Let Go of Worry
The idea of letting go of worry has been evident to many people who have achieved great heights who also have been worriers. But they taught themselves to rise above their worries. Charles Spurgeon, a celebrated English minister of the last century, was such an example. Before his first sermon he worried for weeks and even prayed that he would break a leg so that he could avoid the assignment. As a result of all his worry, his first few sermons were weak and pointless. Then one day he faced up to his worry; he saw how he was misusing his inner power and how he had magnified a personal problem into a great disaster. He then saw worry in its proper perspective. He redirected his energies and became an outstanding speaker.
The more attention we give something by worrying about it, the more we bring it into our lives. When a person says that he or she is worried sick, this can be literally true, for worry is one of the most destructive emotions to affect the mind and body. Biologically we are not constructed to withstand for long periods of time the mental processes and bodily chemical reactions created by worry. Yet there is a human tendency to actually search for things to worry about.
There is also a hesitancy to give up our worries. A psychiatrist once said that if a place were provided where people could leave their worries, they would slip back under a cover of darkness and reclaim them one by one! We need to change our concept about worry. We need to see worry as a potential source of good and as evidence that we love life and want to make more out of life.
Take No Thought
Even when people reach this conclusion, they have not reached the point where worry becomes impossible. True, if they have faith that they are under the constant care of God, they will not be anxious. Anxiety is, in itself, a desertion of trust in God. If we keep our minds occupied with positive, constructive thoughts, we cannot be afraid.
This is true, but there is something that still more clearly marks the road which leads to successful living without anxiety and strain.
No one needs to tell healthy children to play. They run and scamper; they play make-believe; they enter into and create games. This is their nature and that is all there is to it. Children just naturally cannot refrain from playing. When they do not want to play, the adults around them know that there is something wrong with them.
No one instructs the beaver how to build a dam or the bees how to swarm. A universal law of life directs the organism and indwelling intelligence to do naturally and easily that which is in their nature to do. This natural, orderly, inescapable action occurs without thought! The organism and intelligence just behave in this way. That is all there is to it, and the result is inescapable.
Jesus’ instruction is simple and sound. Actually, you are to “take no thought” (Mt. 6:25 KJV) with reference to work, sustenance, or anything that concerns you. Keep yourself centered in God, and you will naturally thrive without worry.
Seek the Kingdom
Attaining this happy state is made possible when we seek the kingdom of God. This means we are to give our attention to God and to making ourselves the kind of people who naturally, easily, and happily express the goodness of God. The resources of the inner kingdom include love, faith, gratitude, peace, and joy. When we make the search for the kingdom within the one aim of our lives, its attainment should not be difficult.
With this awareness, we can understand the simple, yet direct promise from Jesus: “All these things will be given to you as well” (Mt. 6:33). As we keep our attention on the kingdom within, we will receive the desirable values of life much more readily than if we pursue them directly. In fact, direct pursuit of material things loads the heart with many unnecessary burdens, which may result in our failure to attain our good desires.
People whose inner natures exemplify the character of the kingdom do not need to worry about what they will do. Because they are human, their spiritual qualities are expressed in the elements of human living. As the child plays without giving any thought to a decision to play, so the child of the kingdom lives happily without giving anxious thought to the kingdom way of life.
The Value of Concern
There is of course a difference between worry and concern. It is natural to be concerned about the peace of the world, the economic condition of the country, or the health of a loved one. These concerns are very human and understandable. Even more, the corrective therapy of Spirit begins with the concern of people. God can only do for us that which God can do through us. Thus there must be an awareness of a need—not a sense of lack that implies a belief in limitation—an awareness of a need and the concern for its fulfillment. Jesus was aware of the needs of those around Him and concerned about remedying them.
The concern we may have over someone we love or about conditions in general is a step in the right direction. But we cannot stop with concern alone, or else we settle into the dead-end street of worry and despair. The next logical step is faith in and awareness of the kingdom of God and the principles it holds for us. First comes the concern or the awareness of the need, then the healing of the concern or the awareness of God's all-sufficiency in all things.
We can know, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me” (Ps. 138:8). The solving of a problem, the resolving of a conflict, or the removal of an obstacle is not something we must or can do by ourselves. God within us is doing the work.
Think Positive Thoughts
Sometimes it may appear that there is little you can do to help a friend or loved one. On the other hand, you may see all sorts of material things you could do, and you may wonder what and how much you should do. A child of the kingdom will remember that the most helpful thing to do for others, regardless of the need, is to think positive thoughts. Anything that you may do in an outer way is but the expression of a thought. More important than we realize is the nature of that thought.
Positive thinking might actually be a synonym for prayer. We may define prayer in many ways, but essentially it is the act of changing our thought from the limited to the limitless. “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Rom. 12:2). This must be the starting point of all prayer.
There is a science of prayer just as there is a science of chemistry and mathematics. You would not pray that chemistry would allow grouping of elements that are chemically incompatible. You would not pray that mathematics would allow the answer to be three when adding two plus two. Prayer is not an effort toward manipulating divine law or changing God's will. True prayer calls forth from within you the sense of God-power. You can turn the full force of this power, like a searchlight, on whatever may concern you. Let your light shine.
You may think that you are praying only when you assume the manner and employ the words generally associated with prayer. But no matter what you call it, your concentrated thought about any subject is a form of prayer. When you think deeply about anything or anyone, even in worry and anxiety, you are focusing your energy on that thing or person. Worrisome thoughts and thoughts of anxious concern add confusion and doubt to any situation. Every day you affect your body, your business, your loved ones, and the world as a whole by the kinds of thoughts you think.
For this reason, when you are concerned about situations that affect others, first heal your own concern. When you want to help someone else, the starting point of that help must be within yourself.
The purpose of prayer is to behold the presence of God in that which concerns you. Know that God is not sick; God is not poor; God cannot be confused or out of place. Your prayer is an activity of your mind, and you must put God first in your thought. “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (In. 7:24). This “right judgment” changes the image you hold in your mind. Much as you want to help someone or something in time of crisis, the first step, and often the only step needed, is to change your thought of concern.
To do this, begin by beholding the Christ—the spiritual self, the very essence of God—in yourself and in the one you pray for. Turn your thoughts away from any negative reaction, and turn to the realization of the presence and power of God.
Jesus asked, “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (Mt. 7:3) No matter what we may be concerned about in the life experience of others, if we really want to help, we need to first remove the “log” from our own eyes by changing our thoughts from fear to faith. We can correct our faulty vision in which we focus our attention on the disturbing appearance and heal our thought of concern.
How long should you continue praying about things that concern you? Just as long as you continue to feel concerned about them. When you feel a release, a sense of freedom from fear and concern, then the work within you is done. At that point, give voice to your awareness of God as healing and harmony and peace. Know that your word:
“Shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”—Isaiah 55: II
Concern for the needs of the world about you is human nature. But resolving concern into a positive declaration of your faith in God is Christlike.
One of the results of unworried, unstrained living is better work. Creative people know that their best ideas are the ones that “pop” into their minds. These ideas come to them while they take a bath, wash dishes, or mow the lawn and as they become more aware of themselves, others, and the world around them.
Sensitivity to both inner and outer conditions enlivens the mind, arouses creativity, and enriches the day's living. Nothing means much or has power except as we feel it. The gathering of the family around the fireplace may be just a part of the day's routine, but one fine evening you pause to reflect on the happiness of the scene. Your heart grows tender, appreciation rises in you, and it means a great deal more to you than when you took it for granted. Jesus’ idea evidently was that we should live “with feeling.” Our motivation should be the happiness, the love, and the trust in our hearts. They provide inspiration. They furnish driving power. Life yields many more rich rewards as we live this way.
This is Jesus' method for achieving both plenty and freedom from worry. He said: “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear … Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt. 6:25, 32-33).
In this light, the meaning of Jesus' teaching is clear: Do not be concerned with what you will do or how you will act, for you will naturally, easily, readily, and with great joy, act rightly and reap abundantly the rewards of the good life when you put God first in everything you do. Take thought only for your own development and for the establishment within yourself of the directing, energizing forces of faith, love, enthusiasm, and all the qualities of the kingdom within you. You will do what you should.
The fact is that individuals who live in this consciousness cannot worry. In the sense that thinking involves uncertainty, indecision, or hesitancy, they take no thought as to what they are to eat or wear or how they are to live. Filled with confidence, peace, gratitude, love, and joy, they go on their way happily whistling down the street or innocently playing like a child.
This is the way such people have to live. They cannot avoid it. The spirit within finds expression as a hummingbird finds the flower. Yes, it is true. If you give primacy to seeking the kingdom—letting all other things take their place as they fall in line—and setting up your inner realm of spiritual qualities, you just cannot worry.
How do we start? One person cannot start for anyone else. But we can start on our own. God deals with individuals as individuals. When Jesus said simply, “Have faith in God,” He meant you, He meant each individual. He put no time limit on it. He meant every moment of every day and night.
Let us trust God continually so that we can devote our thinking power to constructive, helpful plans instead of wasting it by thinking destructive thoughts. Live with confidence and be successful and happy now, ensuring that your future will be successful and happy.