People are worried. Numerous polls have been released in recent months demonstrating that Americans are growing more panicky over the future. As proof, consider the following excerpt from a May 2020 study conducted by the American Psychiatric Association:
For the second year in a row, about two in three Americans say they are extremely or somewhat anxious about keeping themselves and their family safe, paying bills and their health, according to a new national poll released here today by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) (www.psychiatry.org).
While pandemics, racial tension, and economic problems have fed the current mood, anxiety is nothing new. People have long worried over the future and have allowed these fears to drive them in the wrong direction mentally. How, then, can I keep from falling prey to worry and anxiety when things look so glum? The Lord has the answer.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke of the dangers of worry, telling His followers not to give in to such ideas. He summed up the reason such mental activity is fruitless by stating, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). This is godly wisdom for every age, including ours!
Though often wrongly attributed to baseball’s Yogi Berra, there is an old tongue-in-cheek proverb that says, “It is hard to make predictions, especially about the future.” This witticism reflects the Lord’s words. Worry is characterized by expending mental power over something which I have no control. Will I contract COVID-19? Will racial tensions erupt? Will I lose my job? These are all valid questions; however, worry will produce neither answer nor solution. What, then, should I do?
There is one day that I am promised; it is the one I am currently living. Planning for the future is fine; washing hands and wearing a mask are prudent; tucking money away in case of unemployment is expedient. However, if I waste this day in worry, I am not only one day closer to the grave, but also a poor recipient of the gift God has given. Therefore, the solution to worry is to take care of the day at hand and leave the future to God.
Several years ago, Bobby McFerrin climbed the pop charts crooning the lyrics, “Don’t worry; be happy.” While the sentiment is good, a slight alteration might be appropriate for the people of God: “Don’t worry; be joyful.” Bad times will come, but through God’s help we can handle them one day at a time.