Across the Pastor’s Desk: What good does worrying do us?

Published 8:00 pm Friday, April 14, 2023

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Loren Olson

How many of us could offer a crash course in worry?

Loren Olson, chaplain at Mayo Clinic Hospice

I think a lot of us are very good at it. We are experienced with worry and the emotion of anxiety that goes with it.

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My master’s thesis in counseling psychology was on how high anxiety shifts our perceptions so we do not see things as clearly as when we are relaxed. I would posit that one of the issues we face as a society is that acts of terrorism, mass shootings and the remnants of the pandemic have us in a general state of worry so we do not see things as clearly as we might.

There are politicians and media outlets adding to our anxiety to gain support, raise funds and ratings. There’s one news channel I call “the sky is falling news” because every time I watch it, they are reporting the issue of the day like it is the end of the world.

There are also worries that arise in our own personal lives. Among our worries we might find fretting about finances, health concerns, children and grandchildren, our homes, our clothes, whether spring has arrived or if the Twins can finally pull a team together that we will enjoy watching. I’m sure you could add other worries. There never seems to be a shortage of worries.

We worry even though Jesus told us not to do it. I worry about that. I do not want to be disobedient to what my Lord taught. Jesus taught that the source of many of our worries is the simple fact that we serve too many masters.

The truth is that we all have many masters in our lives. We like to think that we are masters of our fate and captains of our souls, but then we realize that we have little control over a lot of things that happen around us.

As Jesus walked among us, he saw that we worried too much. There is a certain level of worry that is good because it motivates us to plan and prepare and not go through life flying by the seat of our pants. But Jesus was seeing the kind of worry that sapped people’s joy and robbed us from experiencing the abundant life we were promised. He invited us to trade our worries for the opportunity to serve the kingdom of God.

Spring — and the Easter season in church — is a time for hope. Can we give up our worries? Can we give them over to God and trust that while following Jesus that we will find the place of peace and security?

Worrying about everyday concerns will not make us richer, it will not add a minute to our lives, it might cause us to put too much emphasis on our possessions, and worrying will not make any situation better.

When we are focused on Jesus we can change the world, and when we see that our actions are changing people’s lives and even the world, it is a lot harder to worry about the small things.

Think big this season. Think about God and God’s work in the world. Think about the ways you experience God’s glory. Give up worry and see how joy grows in your hearts.

Loren Olson is chaplain at Mayo Clinic Hospice.