An exasperated husband asked his wife, “Why are you worrying all the time when you know it doesn’t do any good?” She quickly retorted, “Oh yes it does! Ninety percent of the things I worry about never happen.”
St. Paul tells us in the reading from Philippians that “there is no need to worry.” If it’s not a necessity, then worry is a luxury! If there is “anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving.” Worry turns us in on ourselves and weakens our trust in the Lord. So, worry is the enemy of prayer and of thanksgiving.
More worryingly (!), is that worry stops us from dwelling on what’s positive and from being thankful to God for it. Jesus once urged us to believe that we have already received what we ask of God, and it will be ours. In other words, we can even give thanks to God for taking care of the thing that worries us, because in faith and trust we have surrendered it to him.
Worry is also the enemy of peace. St. Paul says that we will be given the peace of God which surpasses our understanding if, instead of worrying, we pray and give thanks to God. And he advises us to fill our minds not with fretting about the 90% of things that will never happen, but with everything true, noble, good, pure, loveable, honourable, virtuous and praiseworthy that is happening and has happened.
Not to worry about problems doesn’t mean we don’t try to solve them using the wit and intelligence God gave us. It would be wrong to lie back and do nothing and expect God to handle it all. But it’s equally wrong to invest our time and energies fretting that the milk has been spilt instead of cleaning up the mess and going to buy another bottle.
If the woman in the joke had not wasted her energies worrying about the 90% of things that did not happen, she might have been able to prevent the 10% of things that did. Let’s give ourselves a break from useless worry and find peace in the useful application of our time and energies to working at problems as best we can, and leaving the rest to God in prayer.