Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
As I was praying about what to share with you this morning, the word worry came to mind. Certainly as our governments continue to respond to CV-19, it is easy to see that worry is present. They worry about people not taking this virus seriously enough. They worry about community transmission. They worry about those who are sick and dying. I would imagine they worry about how their handling of this situation will affect their long-term political careers. The funny thing about worry is that it can be contagious, especially in a time like this when we are all facing a common threat. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a little bit of worry and anxiety. Don’t skin me alive, hear me out.
Worry is a defence mechanism that God has given us. Worry keeps us alert to threats. Worry helps us navigate unknown territory. Worry makes us vigilant. Worry protects our children and safeguards our livelihoods. Pushing through worry and anxiety boosts our coping mechanisms and capacity. But all of that is only true when worry is under control; when it exists in healthy doses.
The problems start to happen when worry begins to grow out of proportion, when it begins to take on a life of it’s own. When that happens, worry can cripple us. Worry can leave us huddled in the dark afraid. Fear and worry are pretty comfy bed-fellows. So worry is….well….a worry; if it is in excess.
So how do we keep it in check? Oddly enough, the Bible has some answers to that question. In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus has probably the most helpful teaching on worry that you will ever read in your life. I’m not going to put the whole text here I would encourage you to read it; but I see three things in this text that I would point out to you in dealing with worry.
First, keep a healthy perspective. In verses 26 and 27 Jesus says: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? These are perspective statements:
- i) You are valuable and God knows your needs. Keep that perspective. Any time worry makes you feel cast adrift or isolated or alone, find a bird to look at and remember that God values you.
- ii) practically speaking excessive worry adds nothing to your life. So keep worry in the right place and the right doses. I know I’m simplifying that concept, but really that’s what Jesus is saying. Worry, by and large, is an exercise that adds nothing to your life. Basically Jesus is reminding us here not to feed our worry. It is a beast you can never fill. So starve it instead.
Second you keep a healthy perspective by only worrying about what is in front of you. In verse 34 He says: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Deal with what is right in front of you instead of everything that might ever happen. Deal with the next five minutes. Then the next 5, and so on and so forth. Don’t worry at all about tomorrow. You can do nothing about what tomorrow will bring. If every that lesson had legs it is right here and right now.
Third, deepen your faith. Jesus declares And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? (verses 28-30). The Bible tells us that faith comes from two sources. It is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9) given to the believer. In some sense faith comes from outside of us. However, faith is also something we generate by exercising it. Kind of like a muscle. You build muscle by using muscle. I’ve always found that fascinating. You build muscle by intentionally putting it under strain. That strain, whether it is running, lifting weights or throwing bales, actually damages and hurts the muscle. The body’s response to that damage is to build more muscle so that the damage will be less severe next time. That is exactly how we build faith. We allow it to be put under strain, to be stretched and pulled and even damaged a little. That is why some worry is good for us. It forces us to build our faith. James 1:2-7 and 1 Peter 1:3-8 speak of this
So it futile and, in my opinion unbiblical, for me or anyone else to tell you not to worry. But I would encourage you to keep worry in it’s place!
Here are important updates that we would like to keep you informed of:
1) we are working on creating a series of connections hubs to help keep in contact with everyone. The goal is to have a number of people who are willing to be in regular contact with 5 or so households. This will be a way for us to check in on everyone and also communicate needs that we might be able to help meet. The plan is to have that organized by later this week. If you are interested in being part of that network please let me know!
2) the drywall is all hung upstairs. Thank you so much for the work teams that were here Saturday and yesterday to get that done. The insulators were here today blowing in the attic space. The drywall mudder is here tomorrow and he has requested that no one be around while he is here. He wishes to remain healthy and has a job that allows him to be isolated. So let’s please respect that request
3) with the Ontario government closing down “non-essential businesses”, Joanne and I were talking this morning and have decided that the church office will be closed to foot-traffic. Joanne and/or I will still be here and both have access to email when we aren’t. If you absolutely need something from the church we ask that you call ahead first.
4) finally, as the Deacons and I try to work forward with how to conduct ministry in the coming days and weeks, the main thrust of our conversation was around how we maintain community as well as spiritual health as we are separated. So we’re looking into how to host prayer meetings via video or conference call or how to host small groups to just connect with one another. We are working on those things and will pass plans on to you as we move forward. One thing that is already up and running is a Facebook Group that my lovely wife, Amanda has facilitated. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/232671344583320/. As with all Facebook groups, you can invite anyone to be part of it. This is intended to be a place to connect, share needs and encourage one another.
That’s all for now. May the loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ be evident to you all!
Palmerston EMC is made up of people from various walks of life. A somewhat traditional church, we reflect a small town personality with strong family ties. Agriculture and agricultural related business employ a large portion of our congregation, while some of our people are self-employed or work in industry, service or government. We are a practical, service oriented congregation with a heart to see God’s work in Palmerston move ahead. We have a strong desire to worship and serve God, to reach out to our community, to grow spiritually and to see new people come to faith in Jesus Christ.
You are welcome to join us!