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Worried to Death by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr

From, Maids Wives and Bachelors

To say “we are worried to death” is a common expression; but do we really comprehend the terrible truth of the remark? Do we realize that the hounds of care and anxiety and fretful inability may actually tear and torment us into paresis, or paralysis, or dementia, and as virtually worry us to death, as a collie dog worries a sheep, or a cat worries a mouse? And yet, if we are Christian men and women, worrying is just the one thing not needful; for there are more than sixty admonitions in the Bible against it; and the ground is so well covered by them that between the first “Fear not” and the last, every unnecessary anxiety is met, and there is not a legitimate subject for worrying left.

Are we troubled about meat and money matters? We are told to “consider the fowls of the air; they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”

Have we some malignant enemy to fight? Fear not! “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

Are we in sorrow? “I, even I, am He that comforteth you.”

Are we in doubt and perplexity? “I will bring the blind by a way that they know not. I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.”

Do we fear that our work is beyond our strength? “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, He increaseth strength.”

Are we sick? He has promised to make all our bed in our sickness.

Do we fear death? He has assured us that in the valley and shadow of death He will be with us.

Is the worry not for ourselves, but for wife and children that will be left without support and protection? Even this last anxiety is provided for. “Leave thy fatherless children to me, and let thy widows trust in me, and I will preserve them alive.”

Now, if we really believe that God made these promises, how shameful is our distrust! Do we think that God will not keep His word? Do we doubt His good-will toward us? When He says that He will make all things work together for our good, is the Holy One lying to our sorrowful hearts? Thirty years ago I was thrown helpless, penniless, and friendless upon these assurances of God; and in thirty years He has never broken a promise. He is a God that keepeth both mercy and truth. I believe in His goodness. I trust in His care. I would not, by worrying, tell Him to His face that He either has not the power or the good-will to help and comfort me.

Worriers live under a very low sky. They allow nothing for probabilities and “Godsends.” They suffer nothing to go by faith. All times and all places supply them with material. In summer, it is the heat and the dogs and the hydrophobia. In winter, it is the cold, and the price of coal. They take all the light and comfort out of home pleasures; and abroad their complaints are endless. Yet to argue with worriers is of little use; convince them at every point, and the next moment they return to their old aggravating, vaporing credo.

What remains for them then? They must pray to God, and help themselves. Egotism and selfishness are at the bottom of all worrying. If they will just remember that there is no reason why they should be exempted from the common trials of humanity, they may step at once on to higher ground; for even worrying is humanized, when it is no longer purely selfish and personal.

It is usually idle people who worry. Men and women whose every hour is full of earnest business do not try to put two hours' care and thought into one. Even a positive injury or injustice drops easily from an honestly busy man. He has not time to keep a catalogue of his wrongs, and worry about them. He simply casts his care upon Him who has promised to care for him—for his health, and wealth, and happiness, and good name; for all the events of his life, and for all the hopes of his future.

Worriers would not like to see written down all the doubtful things they have said of God, and all the ill-natured things they have said of men; besides, they might consider that they are often righteously worried, and only suffering the due reward of some folly of their own. Would it not be better to ask God to put right what they have put wrong; to lay hold of all that is good in the present; to refuse to look forward to any possible change for the worse? I know a good man who, when he feels inclined to worry over events, takes a piece of paper and writes his fears down, and so faces “the squadron of his doubts,”—finding generally that they vanish as they are mustered.

Come, let us take Cheerfulness as a companion. Let us say farewell to Worrying. Cheerfulness will bid us ignore perplexities and annoyances; and help us to rise above them. God loves a cheerful liver; and when we consider the sin and sorrow, the poverty and ignorance, on every side of us, we may well hold our peace from all words but those of gratitude and thanksgiving. Worrying is self-torment. It is always preparing “for the worst,” and yet never fit to meet it. Cheerfulness is a kind of magnanimity; it listens to no repinings; it outlooks shadows; it turns necessity to glorious gain; and so breathing on every gift of God, Hope's perpetual joy, it enables us, mid pleasant yesterdays, and confident to-morrows,—

  To travel on life's common way,
  In cheerful godliness.


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