What? Me worry?
A strange magazine popular among young people in the early 1960’s emblazoned the picture of a toothless under-achiever named Alfred E. Newman asking this question: “What? Me worry?” While a far cry from any religious overtones, Mad Magazine’s hero’s lead question is one that should cross the mind of all of us who profess the name of Christ. Am I to worry? Am I to be afraid of the unseen future? As Paul was apt to say in Romans, God forbid!
In fact, it was Paul who made it clear to his young friend, Timothy, that God did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind. (II Tim 1:7) If God be with us, of whom, or what, shall we be afraid? And there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of God, which is Christ Jesus, our Lord. (Rom. 8:38 – 39)
So what is it that causes us to fear? Often, it is criticism, what people think of us. Sometimes, it is a crisis. We cherish stability and don’t appreciate change. Problems seem to result when we face the changes life on this earth naturally presents to us. Sometimes, we fear catastrophes; we focus on bad things that might happen to us or to those we love. Yes, it is people, problems and prospects that cause us to fear and worry.
And the effects of fear and worry are dramatic. Fear disrupts our souls; it takes away our ability to be ourselves, serving God. It paralyzes us; God wants us to move forward and grow spiritually, but we are sometimes frozen with fear and worry. Fear really dishonors God himself, because it ignores His sovereignty, control and promises.
So how shall we overcome fear and worry? First of all, remember whose you are. If you are a believer, you are a child of the King, part of a Heavenly family who can call upon the very Creator of this universe! You have a Heavenly Father who loves you, wants the very best for you and can always accomplish what is truly needed in your life. Will our life always be pleasant and our path free of pain and problems? Absolutely not! This is a fallen world, Satan and his evil are all around us; sickness and death will come to us and, even worse, to those we love dearly. But God is in control, and He loves even me!
David is often the best example of a man who lived in this fallen world and experienced the pain it causes through his experiences and failings, and yet he kept his reliance on God and God’s love for him. In Psalm 56:3 – 4, David wrote “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do to me.” Notice he says “What time I fear,” meaning, “When I fear.” In other words, fear will come, even as it did to this giant in the faith. The question David faces when it comes, as we too face when it comes, is whether we will allow it to disrupt us or paralyze us and thus dishonor God.
Absolutely not, says David. Instead, he will praise His word. In other words, David will get into God’s word. He will dust off his copy of the scriptures and praise God through delving deeply into His word. In God he will put his trust, and he will not fear what this world (flesh, in the verse) can do to him. He will not fear the evil of sin; he will not fear the pain of the death of a son; he will not fear social and physical enemies all around him. Like David, in times when fear and worry come, we must put our trust in the God who loves us, the God who promises never to leave us.
Not only should we remember whose we are, when facing fear, but we should remember how we are made. We are made in the likeness of God himself. We have been given authority here on earth. We should remember what we have been given; take the focus off whatever is causing us worry and fear and put our focus on the blessings we have been given by God. The old gospel song “Count Your Blessings” is not just a ditty, it is a spiritual truth. We can avoid worry and fear as we focus on the blessings we have been given, counting them “one by one.”
No, God has not given us a spirit to accept fear and worry, but one of power, love and discipline. The power to act boldly with the authority we are given to approach even the very throne of God himself. If we have the authority to approach the very Creator of the universe, (and we do), what in this world can bother us? We certainly will experience pain, such as the loss of someone we love, but we must not be worry about such prospects in the future.
Love itself casts out fear. If we focus, through love, on others instead of ourselves and the problem causing us worry, the problem will fade as we express love to others through our actions. Is something worrying you? Get up and go help someone less fortunate than you, consider their situation and act to remedy it. Our problems will fade in comparison when we get outside ourselves and serve others.
We have the Spirit to become disciplined in our approach to this fallen world, a sound mind producing sober thoughts, an understanding of God’s will and purpose in this world, all leading to freedom from fear and worry.
So let’s consider the same question posed decades ago by Alfred E. Newman and Mad Magazine: “What? Me worry?” With our loving God’s help, we believers can give a resounding “NO” to that question.