Worry and thanksgiving
Worry is like a rocking chair — it will give you something to do but get you nowhere. Worry is like a disease — it infects everyone, yet no one seeks a cure.
Most people wear their worry like a badge of honor. But surrendering to worry is a sin dangerous enough to ruin our physical and spiritual vitality and drain our lives of hope and joy.
Yet, knowing all that, I still worry, a lot.
Watch, read or listen to the news and it’s hard not to worry. Presidential impeachment, up and down economy, weather related tragedies, opioid epidemic and the immigration crisis dominate the endless cycle of bad news. In addition — I worry about my children and grandchildren. I worry if I’m being a good husband. I worry about my job and my health. I even worry about my faith. Isn’t that silly?
Can we stop worrying? No, but we can learn to replace worry with thanksgiving and trust.
Soon, most of us will gather with family to celebrate Thanksgiving Day where we eat too much, watch a football game or two and hopefully relax and enjoy the day. There is seldom much if any news about Thanksgiving except for a few stories of churches and groups feeding those in need.
There is something special about Thanksgiving. Psalm 100 from Peterson’s The Message can help us understand the importance of giving thanks.
“On your feet now—applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.
Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn’t make him.
We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.
Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.
For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.” Psalm 100.
My favorite line is, “Enter with the password: “Thank you!” It is as if God has established a special website just for you and the only thing needed is the password: “Thank you!”
Even amid difficulties we can give thanks. For your life and the unique way God created you. For family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances. For opportunities past, present and future. For the ability to love and forgive. For God’s amazing love for you.
This Thanksgiving take a few minutes to appreciate the day and give thanks. “For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.”
If worry is poison, thanksgiving is God’s antidote. The more we give thanks, the less we worry. Somehow, in the midst of giving thanks, we stop depending upon ourselves and learn to seek God’s will. We spend more time on our knees in prayer. Replacing worry with thanksgiving enables me to enjoy my children and grandchildren.
Replacing worry with thanksgiving allows me to enjoy and appreciate my wife. Replacing worry with thanksgiving permits me to work hard and leave the results to God. Replacing worry with thanksgiving strengthens my faith in the God who always loves me.
During a routine visit with an elderly member of the church, a minister noticed an empty chair by the bed and asked about it. The old man replied, “I had a difficult time learning to pray. A friend suggested I place an empty chair in front of me and picture Jesus Christ sitting and having a conversation with me like an old and trusted friend. That chair has been with me ever since.”
A few days later, the daughter called to tell the pastor that her father died. “I was only out of the room for a minute. When I returned, he was gone. He looked so peaceful. Then I noticed something odd about his hand. It was resting on the chair — the empty chair.”
It’s been said that ulcers are caused not by what you eat, but by what is eating you. Are you being eaten alive by worries? Maybe you need to replace your rocking chair of human worries with an empty chair of thanksgiving. When is the last time you had a conversation with Jesus? All it takes is a commitment to pray. Let’s face it — a little bit of thanksgiving sure beats a lot of worry.
REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.