Why Worry?

August 7, 2013

Donna Schaper

"Do not worry." - Luke 12:22

Permit me to give you the practical reasons not to worry.  It doesn't help. It wastes time. It blocks positive energy. It goes quickly to sounding off, which is the opposite of the high art of complaining.  In a complaint, we hope and intend a positive outcome.  In whining and sounding off, we are just hearing ourselves talk.  Worry that leads to complaint can be justified; worry that expresses despair and leads to more despair is impractical.

Permit me to give you all my excuses for worrying.  I can't remember my passwords.  My offspring may have to live through a changed climate, after all that money I spent on braces. My hollyhocks have a disease.  These are perfectly good reasons to worry, and I hope you will join me in legitimating them.

So how dare Jesus tell us not to worry?  We love to waste time and energy and we have good reasons so to do.  Terry Eagleton's great description of the American people can help:  "The good news about the citizens of this kindly, violent, bigoted, generous-spirited nation is that if ever the planet is plunged into nuclear war, they will be the first to crawl over the edge of the crater, dust themselves down, and proceed to build a new world.  The bad news is that they will have started the war."

The American people, of which I am surely one, think of ourselves, individually, as way too important than we really are.  This self-importance is the delusional source of most of our worry.  We can't really see beyond the end of our own nose.   Seriously, climate change worries because of MY kids?  Maybe it is because of the way we came to the continent, alone and shivering.  Maybe it is because we stole so much from the natives upon arrival.  We'll never know what made us us.

What we do know is that worry is impractical and that moving beyond the end of our nose could be liberating.

Prayer

O God, when all we can see is ourselves, move us to a tether and let that tether move us beyond worry.  Amen.

About the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest book is Grace at Table: Small Spiritual Solutions to Large Material Problems.
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