Here on the high plains, we live with drought: the threat of drought, the aftermath of drought, the reality of drought.
A few years ago, as we were heading into fall after a summer with no more than a spit’s worth of rain, I found myself standing in the church before worship with a rancher.
“Well,” he said, “it’s gotta rain eventually.”
Several more women and men nearby echoed the same statement in variously hushed tones. “It’s gotta, it’s gotta… gotta.. rain…rain… eventually… rain eventually.”
If anyone has reason to worry, it has got to be those families whose livelihoods depend absolutely on factors that are completely out of their control.
Worry is a funny thing. Did you know that it comes from the Old English word wyrgan which means to strangle? Have you ever been there, so choked with some fear that it felt as though I couldn’t breathe?
I have. Remember Chandler’s girlfriend Janice on Friends? Remember her voice? I can’t forget it because it’s exactly like the voice inside my head when I worry: high, screeching, and non-ignorable.
A couple of Tuesdays ago, I woke up with Janice screeching in my ear. My daughter’s getting ready to head to college, and I’m struggling to get my head around the price of tuition. “You can’t afford it,” Janice cried, “She won’t get the financial aid. Her dreams will be ruined. You’ve failed as parents…” You get the idea. Her voice cried on, as my heart raced and my throat constricted.
Jesus’ teaching on worry can be summed up in just three words: Don’t do it.
He teaches, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:31-34)
It’s definitely easier said than done, but it’s do-able with God’s help. Like anything, it takes practice. When worry begins, when the strangling feeling starts, when Janice’s voice rings loudly, we pause. We choose to think instead on God, God’s promises, and all the ways in which God has provided in the past and will provide again in the future.
This afternoon, even as I write, I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Church members, family, friends, students, or all of the above–I could disappoint them all. Or I can trust that there’s always enough time to do what needs to get done as long as I’m not worrying about not having enough time. And God will provide, and all will be well.
After all, it has to rain eventually. And my daughter will go to college. And all will be well. It really will.