Waste of Worry

Posted: September 6, 2011 by clairer in Uncategorized

As a perfectionist, I spend a considerable amount of time worrying about achieving certain set standards for myself. This is seen most clearly in my school work. There’s an essay due next week…will I get it done in time? There’s a test tomorrow…am I prepared adequately? I haven’t finished all of my reading assignment…will I look uninformed when my professor calls on me in class? There are endless worries and concerns, and once one assignment is finished, another worry is there to take its place.

I was particularly struck by this endless cycle of worry when I was reading through some of my old diary entries. Again and again, I read about my worries about biology tests, literature papers, and geometry problems. I worried about getting my work done and about getting good grades. Something that stood out to me as I read these entries, though, was how small and insignificant these assignments and grades now seem in hindsight and how much time I spent worrying about something that was here and gone.

Thinking back to just my second semester of my freshman year, I wrote eight essays (and six journalism articles), took twelve tests, and wrote 137 pages and 35,371 words for assignments. I spent an accumulation of hours worrying over each assignment. But now it’s all over. The grades are in, the due dates passed, and the transcript updated. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you at this point (just a few months later), what I got on most of my tests and papers. Those assignments and grades all blur together — they are all just drops in the bucket. I spent an awful lot of time worrying about something that was here and gone.

I think this is something that we all fall into too often. We spend time and energy — we preoccupy our minds — worrying about the inconsequential things in life. Jesus tells us to “not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy.” I think this applies to more than just investing in material objects. I think Jesus is also telling us not to invest in anything that is solely worldly.

Let’s look at it this way: just as passing time will destroy our material possessions (so it would be a waste to treasure and invest in those things), passing time also causes our trials and concerns to fade. Spending time worrying about those trials is essentially “treasuring” and investing time and energy in something that is temporal. What a waste of such precious and God-given resources!

Not only am I investing in something that will fade away, but also I’m not doing anything of value in even human and worldly terms! I can’t even make anything better from my investment in worrying. Essentially, worrying does absolutely nothing productive. As Jesus said, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” So I am not only spending extra time and energy on something that will quickly come and go, but I am pouring this energy into a useless pursuit. It is as if I am trying to collect something as useless as sand in a bucket with a hole. I not only waste my time shoveling sand…I end up with an empty bucket.

But how would our lives be different if we stopped worrying? What would happen if we invested our time and energy in something that was actually effective and productive?

God has given us a set amount of time and energy in each of our lives. We choose how to invest that time and energy. We could spend these resources on worry and end up with an empty bucket and a few remaining grains of sand or we can spend that time studying Scripture, investing in people (who have eternal souls), or pursuing vocations for the glory of God. It’s impossible to do both – to worry and to lead fruitful lives for the kingdom.  Maybe that’s why Jesus told his disciples not to worry, fret, or fear so often in the gospels.  The answer is simple, and it’s always the same: trust in the God who is all-powerful, all-wise, and all-good.

  1. tonyrossell says:

    Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom here. Looking back at past events, you can recall the uselessness of worry. But how do you apply those lessons to the challenges that you see on the horizon? Perhaps another post on that would be helpful.

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