Do Not Be Anxious

During our family discussions this week, Neville asked me what topic I am going to speak on this Sunday. I told him “Do not be anxious”. He smiled in an all knowing manner and patted my back sympathetically and in a condescending manner. Leslie nodded in approval.

I know the reason for their condescending behaviour.

Yes, I worry. Last couple of months have especially been worrisome for me in the office front. Things have not been going well for me in the office. I worry about that. I worry about my PhD a lot. I worry, if and when, I will ever complete it. I worry about Bangalore Bible Fellowship, about it’s future, about the members who left the church, about the members who are not joining us, about the empty chairs. I worry about my other project called Transition Network, where we are fighting against the corruption issues in the Indian Church. I worry about my lack of time to accommodate all into my schedule. I worry that I am not able do enough for God’s kingdom. I worry that I am not able to do enough for the family. I am anxious every time I have to speak at a function, immaterial of how many times I have spoken on that topic earlier. I am anxious every time I have to deliver a sermon. I am particularly anxious today, because I have to deliver a sermon on “Do not be anxious”.

Yes, I worry. May be I should change the topic of my PhD and just choose to get a PhD in worrying. Will be easier I guess, since I practice it so well.

So the Good news is that you are hearing about worry and anxiousness from an expert.

But I am sure all of you sitting here are different from me. I am sure none of you worry at all. Right?

May be not!! I don’t think I’m alone in the battle of worry. We all worry, don’t we?

The ignorant worry because they don’t know enough.

The knowledgeable worry because they know too much.

The rich worry because they are afraid of losing what they have.

The poor worry because they don’t have enough.

The old worry because they are facing death.

The young worry because they are facing life.

Parents worry about the children they have

Childless couples worry about the children they don’t have

Single men and women worry if they will ever get married

Married men and women worry thinking why they ever got married

You see, worry is an integral part of humanity. Ever since Adam and Eve started their worry about being naked, sewed fig leaves to cover their nakedness and hid in the bushes to avoid being questioned or punished by God, it has been an integral part of human nature.

Talking about PhD in worrying, did you know that there are people who have actually researched on this topic and come up with interesting statistics?

40% of what you worry about will never happen

30% of what you worry about or fear are things that happened in the past and can’t be changed

10% of what we worry about are considered by most to be insignificant issues

12% of what we worry about are issues about our health that will not happen

This means that 92% of what we fear or worry about will never take place

It should be meaningful to realize that there are only 8% of anything we worry about that can be considered legitimate concerns. The remaining 8% does not get solved by worrying about it either.

Worry is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere! Nothing ever gets solved by worrying about it. You and I know it, but yet, we worry. Mark Twain said “I am an old man and I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened”

So how about us, as Christians?. What does the bible tell us? Some one has come up with a statistic that there are 365 times God says, fear not, or do not worry, or do not be anxious etc. in the Bible. Is it not comforting to know that there is a fear not, or worry not, for every day of the year?

Are these statistics enough to tell us that we should not worry? Is once day through out the year, enough for God to tell us that we should not worry? Are there not enough reasons for us not to worry?

But of all the many reasons and statistics that remind me why I shouldn’t worry, none of them cut to my heart like the simple fact that I am insulting God every time I worry.

1. When I worry about mistakes of the past, I am proclaiming that I’m not sure if God really forgives.

2. When I worry about the circumstances of the present, I am proclaiming that I’m not sure if God is in control.

3. And when I worry about the needs of the future, I am proclaiming that I’m not sure if God will take care of me.

Jesus says that we have to make a choice regarding anxiety. The choice is between trusting chiefly in what we ourselves can do, and trusting chiefly in what God can do. Jesus says that an anxious Christian is like some one trying to serve two masters. “No one can serve two masters…. therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life (Matt 6: 24, 25)

(The following illustration is adapted from Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan, Zondervan, 2011, pp. 96-97, courtesy Sermon Central Illustrations)

Recently some of our Church members moved house. They know what a traumatic experience it could be. In the early part of our married life, Leslie, Neville and I have moved house many times, more than 10 times. Every move is followed by numerous days of settling down. Every settling down involves pushing the furniture around multiple times. Leslie is not happy with the way the lay out looks, OK let us push the furniture around.

One such round, while I was pushing furniture around, Neville, who was small at that time, came and offered his help. So we together pushed, and moved some furniture into it’s place. However, after a couple of times, Neville stood up and told me “Pa, you are in my way, You are slowing me down, Let me do it myself”. Cool, I thought, and let him do it himself. You know the result. Nothing budged, nothing moved. Not even the table fan that Neville tried to lift by himself.

Neville did it because he was small. He was yet to understand the limitations of his capabilities. But how about us grown ups? How often do some of us do that with our Heavenly Father? In the course of trying to move our lives along, we say, “God, you’re in my way,” and think it all depends on us. Then we wonder why we’re so full of anxiety and getting nowhere.

So how exactly can we not worry? Let me share with you the simple technique the Bible says to use to be victorious over worry. It’s simply this: turn your worry into prayer.

Check out Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Many of us do not take our worries to God, because we think it is too small, it is too insignificant for us to bother Him with our issue. After all, He is the Alpha and the Omega, He is the creator of everything. He is the Almighty. Why should we bother him with our small petty issues? We would rather worry about them ourselves.

When Einstein fled Nazi Germany, he came to America and settled down near Princeton University. There he entertained some of the most distinguished people of his day and discussed with them issues as far ranging as physics to human rights.

But Einstein had another frequent visitor. She was not, in the world’s eyes, an important person like his other guests. She was a ten-year-old girl named Emmy. Emmy heard that a very kind man who knew a lot about mathematics had moved into her neighborhood. Since she was having trouble with her fifth- grade arithmetic, she decided to visit the man down the block and see if he would help her with her problems. Einstein was very willing and explained everything to her so that she could understand it. He also told her she was welcome to come anytime she needed help.

A few weeks later, one of the neighbors told Emmy’s mother that Emmy was often seen entering the house of the world- famous physicist. Horrified, she told her daughter that Einstein was a very important man, whose time was very valuable, and he couldn’t be bothered with the problems of a little schoolgirl. And then she rushed over to Einstein’s house, and when Einstein answered the door, she started trying to blurt out an apology for her daughter’s intrusion – for being such a bother. But Einstein cut her off. He said, “She has not been bothering me! When a child finds such joy in learning, then it is my joy to help her learn! Please don’t stop Emmy from coming to me with her school problems. She is welcome in this house anytime.”

(Peter Kennedy, Copyright 2000, Devotional E-Mail, “It Is His Joy” , courtesy Sermon Central Illustrations )

You see our God is waiting for us to take our troubles and worries to Him, so that he can handle them in His own way. Today the world outside is celebrating Friendship day. We sing the song “What a friend we have in Jesus” many times. The words of the song goes, “Oh what needless pain we bear.. all because we do not carry everything to Jesus in Prayer. “

Today, our Sunday School Children are learning the story of Pundita Ramabai, and I will be failing in my duty if I do not link this message to what the children are learning. Born in a Brahmin Family, Pundita Ramabai came to know Jesus, and then devoted her life to uplifting widows and poor women through her Mukti mission. Let me just quote her words themselves to convey her message for us this morning.

“One thing I knew by this time, is that I needed Christ and not merely His religion… I was desperate… What was to be done? My thoughts could not and did not help me. I had at last come to an end of myself, and unconditionally surrendered myself to the Saviour; and asked Him to be merciful to me, and to become my righteousness and redemption, and to take away all my sin….”

“A life committed to Christ has, Nothing to Fear, Nothing to Loose, Nothing to regret”

“People must not only hear about the kingdom of God, but must see it in actual operation, on a small scale perhaps and in imperfect form, but a real demonstration nevertheless.” Shall we, this morning, make a commitment to demonstrate our Christianity by taking all our prayers and worries to Christ in Prayer?

Shall we sing “What a friend we have in Jesus” in closing?

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