Thursday, October 08, 2009

Giving Thanks, No Worries -- A Column

From the hand of Matthew the Gospel writer come these words of challenge and encouragement:
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things (Matthew 6:31-32)

Is Jesus kidding? Don't worry? Just trust that what you need will show up? That can't be right! That just isn't realistic.

Well, no, from a strictly practical point of view it isn't realistic. Food and drink and clothing and shelter and heat don't just fall from the sky when we need them. But then again there is a great deal of wisdom in Jesus' words.

In the end what does worry accomplish? Other than making us uneasy and anxious that is. A couple sentences earlier Jesus asked “Can any of you by worrying add a single day to the span of your life?”. Does worrying bring us food? Does worry pay the rent? All worry does is cause us discomfort and make us feel bad.

Well that isn't quite true. Worrying can do one more thing. It can change how we see life. When we are worrying about things we start to see the world through eyes of scarcity, we start to believe that what we need for life is scarce. And then we worry more. And, more importantly, we start to believe that if things are scarce then we need to hold tightly to what we have.

But there is an alternative. Even in the face of conditions that lead us to worry we can choose to follow the advice Bing Crosby gave Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas:
When I'm worried and I can't sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep...I fall asleep, counting my blessings.
In the face of worry and anxiety we can count our blessings. And then a funny then might happen.

If worrying leads us to see the scarcity in the world, what does counting our blessings lead to? Why it leads us to see the abundance in the world! And when we see the world as a place of abundance we often become happier, more at ease. And then we start to feel like we have enough to share with others.

This Thanksgiving season we have a choice. We can fret and worry about the economy and the job market and the future. Or we can set those things aside for the moment and focus on why we are blessed. Counting our blessings won't add a single dollar to our bank account or a single crumb of food to our table. But it can change our outlook on life. And besides, if we really miss the worry and anxiety we can always go back to them!

What choice will you make?

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