Why Worry?

On February 3, 2019, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Why Worry? Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Let us dwell together in peace; and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. I was raised by gold medal worriers. Our family motto was “Why do something when you can […]

Why Worry?
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Let us dwell together in peace; and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

I was raised by gold medal worriers. Our family motto was “Why do something when you can you worry?”

We weren’t full on pessimists, those who are able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory,
but we were suspicious. We did feel that potential danger lurked around every corner and we were very good at imagining what could go wrong and how bad it could get.

Jesus’ message today seems directed at the chronic worriers of the world. But it seems uncharitable to tell people who are worried about making ends meet to just not give it another thought. Not only does that seem unkind, it is also not what Jesus is saying.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus says(Matt 6.29ff):
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…But store up heavenly treasures…For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be. [What we value most is what has our heart]…
“No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and mammon [money].
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or…what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow nor reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet God feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”

Jesus isn’t saying that you should never worry. He is saying that most of us worry too much about money.

We over spend, or become overly materialistic. We fight over inheritance and we sometimes cheat to get ahead or hoard rather than share, or work ourselves to the point of exhaustion.
We are so afraid that there isn’t enough that we develop a scarcity mentality…but a scarcity mentality isn’t one that sees life as full of possibilities.
A scarcity mentality keeps us scared and prevents us from being as generous as we could be.

Jesus knows some people don’t have shoes, or don’t have proper clothes for job interviews, or don’t receive adequate nutrition. And he wants us to help those people, but we can’t if we have a scarcity mentality. So, he challenges us to seek spiritual treasure more than just money and things. If we care about God’s earth and God’s people, then we won’t be just concerned with our own success, privilege and comfort.

I’m glad Candice Payne didn’t have a scarcity mentality. She embraced heavenly treasure by sharing human generosity last week when she used her own credit card to provide hotel rooms for homeless people during record low temperatures in Chicago. She didn’t worry that she couldn’t; she just did what she could. I think that’s what Jesus is talking about.

While Jesus seems to be challenging us to develop attitudes of abundance and cultures of generosity, his point about habitual worry does apply to other areas of our lives.

Jesus isn’t saying its wrong to ever be scared.Jesus himself had a moment of near panic on the night of his arrest. Matthew’s gospel tells us, “Jesus fell face down and prayed, ‘If it is possible, let this cup pass from me.’” That sounds like someone who was worried. And fair enough! Authorities were coming for him and he was facing capital punishment.

BUT…if he had spent days worrying about all the ways he could get in trouble, he might not have done the things he did. We might not even know his story.

When the guys with spears are on the way, he gets a little anxious – an appropriate response in the moment. But he didn’t develop a habit of worrying constantly or prematurely. The habit of worry would have robbed him of his power.

In Matthew 14, the apostles are in a boat in a storm and Jesus comes walking toward them on top of the water. This is not a story I take literally, but it does offer a point that I take to heart.

The apostles see Jesus on the water and think he’s a ghost.
Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid. It’s just me.”
Peter responds, “If its you, tell me to come to you.”
And Jesus answers, “Come!”
And Peter jumps out of the boat and starts walking on the water toward Jesus. But then, he notices the winds, and the waves, and he thinks, “Adam’s figleaf I’m walking on water!” And that moment, he begins to sink.

When Peter scared himself, he went down.
Isn’t that the point?

Isn’t that what Jesus is telling us in the sermon on the mount?
He’s saying, “Don’t scare yourself.”

At times you will be scared, but don’t let it be because you scared yourself.

The truth is, most of what terrifies us has already happened, hasn’t happened yet, or may never happen at all. The things that really are fear worthy, when we face them we usually prove equal to the challenge. So far, every single one of us has survived every hardship and heartache life has thrown at us. So, summon hope when you can, and at very least, don’t scare yourself.

Let me say this one thing about hope…Sometimes, our hopes are met or even exceeded. Other times, our hopes to do not lead to the miracle we wanted. But hope is never wasted. Hope feels better than despair, and yes, we will lose some of our battles, but we can’t even fight them without hope.

The Apostle Paul said, “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit, which has been given to us.” Hope is the gift. It is its own reward. It often leads to other rewards, but even when it doesn’t, thank God we at least had hope.

Don’t beat yourself if you can’t summon hope, but never feel bad because you had hope. Sometimes people will say when things are painful, “I feel foolish for having hoped.” Don’t regret the gift of hope.

That hope may have spared you untold pain. It may have taken you farther than you yet realize. At very least, it offered you moments of relief. Never regret hope. We dont’ always get to choose our feelings, but if you can choose between hope and fear, choose hope.

I don’t want to overestimate my skills, but if I could remove one worry from your mind forever, it would be any worry that God would ever or could ever reject you for any reason. My trust is in the everlasting goodness of omnipresent Love, a power that is for us, and that will never let us go. I hope you get your promotion, I hope your medical treatments are successful, I hope your 401k doubles in value, i hope your team wins the “supper bowl”…but I trust that God is life, love, power, and presence, and that our good God will hold you tenderly throughout this life and forever after. Let us never worry about that. And this is the good news. Amen.

God heal my fears.
Constantly renew my hope.
Help me to trust in your unfailing goodness.
Amen.

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