As one who loves all things mathematical, I am always fascinated by facts and statistics as they have never failed to give me a pause for thought. Only recently I read the following set of statistics which I would like to share with you this morning. A Navy chaplain drew up a worry table based on the problems brought to him by the men and women he served. He found that their worries fit into five categories: 40% expressed worries about things that never happened, 30% had entertained worries about decisions already made and not changeable, 12% had at some stage worried about sickness that never came, 10% had worried about family members and friends, forgetting that they were well able to help themselves, and 8% carried worries about real problems. His conclusion was that 92% of our worries are needless.
It is of course true that each of us finds ourselves tormented by worries of one kind or another. Many of these worries, as the navy chaplain discovered, are simply misdirected and consequently must be removed from our lives. If we in any way understand our human nature, then we will quickly realise that we are too weak to bear worries and anxieties single-handedly, still less are we able to resolve them alone. If we try to take a solo flight, then more and more do we come to resemble the worries that are festering within … something Helen Steiner Rice put into verse when she said, “Worry? Why worry? What can worry do? It never keeps a trouble from overtaking you. It gives you indigestion and sleepless hours at night, and fills with gloom the passing days, however fair and bright. It puts a frown upon your face and a sharpness in your tone. You’re unfit to live with others and unfit to live alone.” This little verse reminds us, as Jesus does, that worry and anxiety are toxic to humans … it finds its way into your conversations, your smiles, your gestures, your plans … it eats away at your own personality and, if left unchecked, it becomes a weapon against others.
So, what is one to do? What is the antidote to the worry and anxiety we may encounter? That is exactly the question that Jesus addresses in this morning’s Gospel. Not only does he tell us that we can’t be servants of both God and money, He is revealing to us today that we can’t be servants of both joy and sorrow nor can we simultaneously act as servants of hope and anxiety. As Christians, we are called, through the mystery of our Baptism, to be servants of joy and hope, of justice and peace and those qualities must radiate from our very core as light to the world. We must endeavor to fight the good fight and be victorious over all those things in our lives weigh us down, things which Jesus tells us are thieves “which comes to steal and kill and destroy” the good things in life. God never intended for any of us to live in fear or to live with worry and anxiety and so He sent His son Jesus to us with the antidote of joy and peace so that we may have life, and have it to the full.
Having that full life that God desires for you takes real effort. It takes planning and strategy. Above all else it takes prayer … real prayer … daily prayer where you cast your burdens onto Him as He has invited you to do, trusting that He will care for you and that in return, He will give you a new light, a new wisdom and a new strength to cope with the difficulties of the day. In your prayer, let the day’s burden pass from your hands to the Lords. Don’t go adding the burdens of tomorrow nor the day after to the current load for a child who tries to carry too much out of a naive sense of independence will soon tire. If we, however accept the fact that we are children of God and totally dependent on Him, He will gladly carry our burdens and even lift us up into His arms.
The Lord won’t force you to give him your burden of cares, but He will constantly be at your side, waiting patiently and discreetly for you to turn to Him. We need struggle on no longer … we only need to turn and ask God’s help. Give Him not only your worries and anxieties but give Him your hands and your heart as well so that He may make use of them. If you want to be free, young in spirit, joyous, peaceful, strong, secure and successful, then each day, each minute … PRAY … seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness in the sure and certain hope that all other good things will be given to us ! Let me again use the words of Helen Steiner Rice to conclude:
“Pray? Why pray? What can praying do? Praying really changes things, arranges life anew. It’s good for your digestion, gives peaceful sleep at night. It fills the grayest, gloomiest day–with rays of glowing light. It puts a smile upon your face, the love note in your tone. Makes you fit to live with others, and fit to live alone. Pray? Why pray? What can praying do? It brings God down from heaven, to live and work with you.”