James Williams

A psychiatrist analyzed many cases that he had treated, and worry was the dominant theme. 

Fifty-two percent of his patients worried and complained about things that could never happen. Forty percent worried about things they had no control over. Only 8 percent of what his patients worried about were things that had a connection to a real problem. So, about 92 percent of what these people worried about was irrational. 

In all honesty, I made these statistics up to make a point. Worry is one of the biggest problems people come to see me about. My response is to read the Sermon on Mount where Jesus invites us to only worry about the needs of the day, and the rest will be taken care of (Chapters 5-7 in the Gospel of Matthew). The Sermon on the Mount also contains both the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) and the Our Father (Matthew 6:9-13).

A sure and certain way to avoid needless worry is to give thanks for his blessings of each day. Each year we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Although it’s a few months away, it’s the weekend where we as a nation give thanks for all that is good in our lives and the way God takes care of us. When hearts are lifted up in thanks, all worries seem to melt away. By capturing that attitude of thanks each day and not just once a year, we might come close to being worry free.

Human nature has a natural inclination to think we will find serenity through physical needs. Jesus challenges this notion and asks us to give divine providence a try. Freedom actually comes when we rely on our Heavenly Father as our soul provider. Realizing that all that is good comes from our God quickly dispels our anxieties.

We live in an era where great human ingenuity makes it difficult to connect our blessings to God. Daily, we find ourselves dealing with others who seem to drain all charity from our hearts. Sometimes the stress of our lives makes us feel as if God is far away. 

A trick I learned as a young adult on a retreat is called the “ABCs of gratitude.” One of my retreat leaders told us that when we have a hard time sleeping at night to go through the ABCs and with each letter think about something you’re grateful for. I have to admit I have never made it to the letter Z without falling asleep. 

Just recently I was given this prayer to say before bed: 

Lord,

Thank you for helping me sleep through the night

and waking me up to a beautiful morning.

Lord, I pray you to teach me to love my life with each passing day.

Fill my heart with joy and gladness and remind me of

all the things in my life to be thankful for.

When thoughts of negativity begin to fill my mind,

please remind me that you love me.

When I begin to feel helpless and hopeless, please

remind me that you’ve got me.

When I feel like my life is overwhelming, please remind me

that you created me for a purpose.

Mold and guide me to your purpose for me, because

I trust that your plans for me are better than

Anything I could ever ask for.

I offer this prayer through Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Quite often gratitude is simply an attitude that we choose. God has blessed this land of ours with great abundance, so how can we not be thankful? Worrying about anything is only a waste of time when we know who is in control.

The Rev. James Williams is pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Salida.

 

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