What, Me Worry? - Dealing With Anxiety During Times of Uncertainty
By Richard Allen – July 25, 2022
For those of you who recognize the goofy looking fellow pictured on this blog, you’ll immediately know that: “Yes, I did read Mad Magazine” as a young pre-teen and teen. Alfred E. Newman was an iconic figure for many pre-pubescent boys of my generation, and in a funny way, a bit of our comedic hero! My wife might explain this as part of my boyish charm, or just my lame attempt to be funny. What I do remember most is the phrase “What, Me Worry?” that often accompanied Alfred’s picture on Mad’s magazine cover. For most of us, we assumed that he was “not the sharpest knife in the drawer,” and that his ambivalence toward danger and other situations came from pure stupidity.
Now, 60 years later, as a committed believer in Jesus Christ, scripture admonishes me that worry can be sin – especially if I doubt God’s goodness and daily provision. But in trying times it’s hard not to worry at the disturbing changes happening all around us. God’s word admonishes us to hold on to the confidence and promise that is recorded in Hebrews Chapter 13:
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
To me it’s quite ironic that this verse is in the same book which gives Christians the best picture of What Faith Is, and What Faith Does! That picture comes from Hebrews Chapter 11 and is often called “Faith’s Hall of Fame” because it shows how those whom God loves and uses the most, often endure many trials and hardships during their earthly pilgrimage. It’s clear from these two passages in Hebrews 13 and 11 that whatever comfort God is giving us when saying that “He’ll never leave nor forsake us,” doesn’t automatically mean that we’ll lead lives of ease with blue skies and flower-strewn paths. It’s here that Jesus’ admonition in the Sermon on the Mount once again helps us understand:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:25-33).
This passage goes a long way to help us understand that God wants us to live lives of faithfulness, not turmoil and anxiety. So, let me ask: “Does this verse mean that we just stop being concerned” like Alfred E. Newman, oblivious to the dangers around us? Again, Scripture also admonishes us to plan, prepare, be diligent and work hard preparing for a “rainy day.” We have the story of Pharaoh’s dream of the “seven healthy fat cattle followed by the seven skinny and emaciated cattle” recorded in Genesis 41:25-36, and the wisdom of God that Joseph provided in His interpretation – showing that storing up our bounty during “plentiful years” will provide for the “lean years” to follow.
“Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. . . . . the seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty ears of grain blighted by the east wind are also seven years of famine. It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land, and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of the famine that will follow, for it will be very severe. And the doubling of Pharaoh's dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine” (Genesis 41:25-36).
The book of Proverbs as well, is full of encouragement to be discerning, watchful and making preparations so “tough times don’t catch us unprepared.” So, how in the world do we put all this together? Are we to worry? Or just be concerned enough to prepare? Do we trust God in the face of political turmoil and forced vaccinations? Trust me, there is enough craziness going on around us to make all of us concerned. Many people have lost their jobs, or been forced to take an experimental $20 Trillion Dollar jab that went through none of the rigorous safeguards that previous vaccines had. And the farmers are letting us know now that 18 months of failed policies by the current president and his cabinet will create a serious food shortage near the end of 2022 and going into 2023. https://youtu.be/P2FGMg88YsU.
According to Yahoo Finance, certainly no critical conservative news outlet, the Biden Team’s clueless credentials are:
The middle average years of business experience is zero
62% of the Biden appointees dealing with economic policy, regulation, commerce, energy and finance have no practical experience working in the private sector.
The vast majority of the Biden economic/commerce team consists of professional politicians, lawyers, community organizers, academia, lobbyists and government employees. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/analysis-majority-top-biden-officials-143100317.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall
So, it should be no surprise that they are genuinely “clueless” on economic, energy, supply chain, trade, international and other policies that actually affect working men and women, and especially the poor. They are quite skilled when it comes to “gender equality for all 183 Genders” and the coming “Environmental Holocaust.” How dare the middle-class drive cars and use electricity to power their homes! Sadly, these are only important issues for a very small subset of political activists, who have no real world experience in successfully managing even a small business. I do wonder what their concerns will be when there is no food, electricity for their iPhones or even bottled water – me thinks some might even reconsider their “religious war against fossil fuels.” One of the ways they demonstrate their total lack of understanding of the real world is, they are now confounded by the negative consequences of making economic policy based on their Woke Agenda. They just can’t understand what went wrong.
For those of you who are concerned for the coming food crisis in 2023, I would admonish you that within reason, please prepare for the hard times that are coming. But at the same time, Jesus warns us all to not be anxious, or to allow fear to grip and define us. We are to live lives defined by Faith – not Fear! This is the key to living above the trials and turmoil around us, Faith. James strikes a great balance when talking about human effort, not crushing down our industry to “be fruitful and multiply” – while bringing all of our concerns and focusing them in the hope we have in our Sovereign Heavenly Father:
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’ ” (James 4:13-15).
James goes on to say that such talk about planning is boasting and arrogant – BECAUSE IT LEAVES GOD OUT. He reminds us that our lives are like a mist that appears for a little while – then is gone. James’ whole point is: “If the Lord wills we will do this or that”. . . “ Fallen man always leaves God out of the equation. Imagining that we are in control is an idle boast and is unbelief. God wants His people to learn dependency upon Him. God is never saying: Stay home, don’t go to work, don’t provide for your family with your hard work, planning or sober living. No, but He is constantly reminding us that it’s by His grace and provision that any of us has anything in this life. The prayer that Jesus used to teach us to pray teaches us: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3). It instructs us to recognize the providential hand of God in all things. Our passage from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25-33 ends by telling us:
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:25-33).
A life of Faith – not filled with Fear and Anxiety is lived by acknowledging God’s sovereignty over all – and like Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane – we pray: “Not my will, but Thine be done” (Mark 14:36). When we first seek His kingdom and righteousness in all things, we are submitting our lives to His Kingly Rule and Reign. This is no guarantee that our lives will be a “rose garden,” but this attitude of faith will keep us from anxiety and worry. We can be confident that He knows what we have need of before we even ask (Matthew 6:32). And He longs for us to ask in “childlike dependency” on Him as a merciful and loving Father. Let me close with a poem that my mom shared with me in 1970 before she died:
God hath not promised skies always blue, Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through.
God hath not promised sun without rain, Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God hath promised strength for the day, Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above, Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
– Annie Johnson Flint
Like our Lord Jesus, we learn faithful obedience through the trials and struggles of life (Hebrews 5:8). At that final day when we’re all safely home, we’ll say: “He has done all things well” (Mark 7:37).