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Sunday, August 21, 2011

When to Reasonably Worry?

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” ~Matthew 6:34 (NRSV).

There is a common cost to love. For our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, and our endeared friends there is a burden; a reasonable worry. It is a fallacy, and a biblical false teaching, to reject this form of worry. A cost of love is the cost of life.

We must believe that to be appropriately concerned for our loved ones is God’s will.

Occasionally, this will mean our thinking will be preoccupied, our feelings estranged to sense, and our actions invoking courage and grappling with, and resisting, fear.

Reasonable Worry Clarified

The sort of worry that Jesus referred to when preaching the Sermon on the Mount—that quoted above—is perhaps a more general portion of worry related to our health, what we’ll eat, how long we’ll live, and what we’ll wear. There are many things we are tempted to worry about that have little bearing on life or love.

Reasonable worry ought to be confined to life and love.

To worry about those things that are within our control, instead of just doing them, seems to be a waste of emotional energy.

Interestingly, those things that are out of our control—things that are usually related to either life or love—are actually valid things to be concerned about. But we convert these worries into prayers. We convert our concern into faith, which is always expressed in action.

Being ‘Comfortably’ Worried

We can expect that a level of actionable worry—the concern of familial advocacy—is pleasing to God. We have the capacity for it. We can deal with a certain amount of stress.

The Lord has given us charge over these matters. To be ambivalent about familial issues, pretending to or refusing to be concerned sufficiently enough, would be an abomination. Perhaps there are too many parents, adult children, or close friends that brush off concern because it’s not ‘cool’, or they fear their concerns might be ridiculed. But a genuine concern about loved ones is just an honest expression of love.

We can feel vindicated, so far as our obedience to God’s will is concerned, when we do something about our concerns or otherwise leave them alone if we can’t.

‘Concern’ Explored

Concern is like monitoring a car’s fuel or temperature gauge. Monitoring, of itself, needn’t necessitate worry; we are just keeping an eye on things. When indications cause an elevated level of concern, then we act if we can. There is always something we can do, even if it’s just to express our concern in love.

Reasonable worry is an actionable level of concern; the motivation of love, inspired by the courage to act. Worry beyond the ability to act is pointless and failing to be concerned enough when it matters is negligence. Reasonable worry is the middle ground concern of wisdom.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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