I knew a mother one of whose sons was not a Christian man, and not of good habits. She was a devoted true Christian woman, bearing her part in life's service with fine faith and a keen sweet spirit. The children were all Christians but this one, her first-born, the beginning of her strength. The thought of him troubled her much. She prayed fervently, and used her best endeavor, and the years grew on without change. And her face showed the burden upon her fine spirit. We would talk together about her son, and pray together, but her brow remained clouded.
Then I marked a change. The lines of tension in her face relaxed. A new quiet light came into her eye. There seemed a gentle intangible, but very sure, peace breathing about her. And I knew there was no change in him. So one day in conversation I ventured to ask about the change. And I shall always remember the gentle voice and the quiet strength with which she said, |I have given him over to my Father. And I know He will not fail me. I am still praying, of course, as ever, and I am trusting for him.| She had been carrying a load that she should not have been carrying. And now while the mother-heart was still concerned as much as ever, the sense of assured victory brought the change in her spirit.
Sometimes worry is fretting over past mistakes; it is chafing about what we do not understand, or about plans of ours that have failed. A good deal of worry comes from pride and over-sensitiveness. The roots here, it will be noticed, of all alike are down in our own failures, our own selves. And there would be cause for more worry if we had only ourselves. But we have a Father.
A very great deal of worry is wholly due to physical causes. Overworked nerves always see things distorted. Huge phantom shapes loom up before us. Overwork always makes a sensitive spirit worry, and worry usually makes us overwork until we drop from exhaustion. When the cause is here, there are some simple human helps. Some -- a good bit -- of God's fresh air will work wonders. Even good people seem unchangeably opposed to God's air, and insist on breathing old, worn-out, used-up second-hand air. God would be greatly glorified if housekeepers and church sextons were given a practical course in the use of fresh air, God's air. With that should be simple food, and simple dress, and abundant sleep, and simple standards of life.
Worry is utterly useless. It never serves a good purpose. It brings no good results. |Which of you can by being anxious add a single span to the measure of his life?| Jesus asks in that sixth of Matthew. But much more can be said. It brings bad results. The revision brings out the clear, simple meaning of the Thirty-seventh Psalm, eighth verse. The old version seems a bit puzzling, |Fret not thyself in anywise to do evil.| The revision reads, |Fret not thyself, it tendeth only to evil doing.| The results of worrying are always bad. The judgment is impaired. One cannot think so clearly nor see so clearly. The temper is ruffled. The door is quickly opened to worse things.
It is sinful to worry. For the Master repeatedly commands us, |Be not anxious.| It helps to get a habit labeled correctly. Here to tack on |sinful| in block letters, black ink, white paper, so as to get greatest contrast is a decided help. And worrying is a reproach upon Jesus. Let the Gentiles, the outsiders, the people who have not taken Jesus into their lives, let them worry if they will. But we must not. For we have Jesus. Let these who leave Him out grow crow-toes, and deeply-bitten wrinkles, and turkey-foot markings. Without Him how can they help themselves? But we folk who have Jesus should have smoothly rounded faces, the lines all filled up and ironed out. It reproaches Jesus before folks for us to be as they are in this regard.
Out of the midst of a great pressure of work, with a body tired out, Dr. Charles F. Deems, the busy pastor of The Church of The Strangers in New York City, wrote these lines years ago:
|The world is wide,
In time and tide,
And God is quick;
Then do not hurry.
|That man is blest,
Who does his best,
And leaves the rest;
Then do not worry.|
A man should do his best. There should be no shirking. Yet I need hardly say that here, because shirking people, lazy people do not worry. They haven't enough snap about them to worry. But it steadies one to put the thing just as Dr. Deems put it. |Do your best, and, then leave all the rest to God.| And when sleep time comes, sleep.