Don’t sweat it
Antiperspirant promises for life’s sticky situations
By Scott Harrup
She shut off the vacuum cleaner when she heard the doorbell,
then opened the door to meet her worst fear. Mom was “just popping in” on a day
her apartment could qualify for federal disaster relief. The dirty dishes,
laundry pile, bills on the table and cat litter explosion in the bathroom all
screamed irresponsibility. Forget her two jobs and her graduate studies, she
felt like she’d just arrived at the principal’s office.
He had mowed the yard the other day, but his neighbors’
yards looked like they were clipped five minutes ago. Every lawn on the street
seemed to banish its weeds to his humble paddock. He needed to spray weed
killer, but it was threatening to rain. He wondered if he should spray and hope
for the best, or mow again and stealth-weed some more. Would the neighbors see
him if he pulled the dandelions at 3 a.m.?
If you had a dime for each of your worries …
Besides the big issues of life, a landfill of little stuff
has a way of growing steadily behind the scenes. Each daily headache adds to
your tension and ramps up your worry meter. You would be embarrassed to list
any of your problems individually — they sound so silly. But, taken
together, they’re backing you into a corner.
• You are running late for work and notice the car is on E.
You can risk running out of gas, or stop for gas and make yourself even later.
• You have a tight grocery budget. You either accept the
standard bargains at the one-stop SuperDuperCenter or take the time and effort
to taxi your coupons all over town.
• You squeeze every dime into that appliance purchase, then
the cashier asks if you want to buy the extended warranty in exchange for one
of your children or risk irreparable loss and lifelong regret.
• Your deck is so weathered its splinters have splinters, your
windows and siding have grime buildup from the Clinton administration, the
mystery junk in your garage is making Homeland Security suspicious, you would
have to take out a loan to replace every burned-out lightbulb in the house, the
cracks in your driveway are a risk to small children.
Wise words from a calm Teacher
Jesus lived during tough times. Thanks to the tax-happy
Roman Empire, many people struggled to make ends meet. Courtesy of the
Pharisees, folks were also stuck with local “big government” in the guise of a
legalistic and hypocritical religious system.
Jesus’ parables give glimpses into just how hard life could
be. You could get mugged hiking from Jerusalem to Jericho. You could run up a
debt and be thrown into prison. You might sleep in one room with your entire
family, struggle to grow your food for the year on unproductive soil or find
yourself victimized by a corrupt system of justice.
But as Jesus ministered to people, He had a way of
identifying the big and little issues that complicated their lives and
consistently pointing people toward His Father. Jesus’ audiences represented
families and singles, young and old, the wealthy and the impoverished. He
connected with them all and gave all of them hope.
When you read Matthew 5-7, a section of the Gospel better
known as the Sermon on the Mount, you discover Jesus’ words outline a life that
enjoys God’s blessing in spite of unpleasant circumstances. Jesus’
nuts-and-bolts guidance covers big and little woes, major crises and daily
headaches, issues of immediate concern and subjects of eternal weight.
In the middle of it all is this gem: “Therefore I tell you,
do not worry …” (6:25, NIV). Don’t worry about what? The basic necessities of
life. What you eat or drink or the clothing you wear. The kinds of things that
birds and flowers possess through God’s plan, Jesus explains, you can trust God
to provide for you. So, what happens if you take the plunge and take Jesus at
His Word on the subject of worry?
Building on the little stuff
Weightlifter Shane Hamman has been described as the
strongest man in America, but when he made the switch from powerlifting to
Olympic-style weightlifting, he had to trade his record-breaking feats for
hours of practice with a stick.
“It taught me patience,” Hamman said in a 2004 interview
before that year’s Athens Olympics. “I had to go from squatting over 1,000
pounds and being rated as the strongest powerlifter in the world to lifting a
broomstick. I did nothing but lift a broomstick for a month to study the
technique. It was a really difficult time, but it worked out.”
Jesus invites you to trust God with your most basic needs.
It’s kind of like training your faith muscles by prayerfully lifting a
stick-sized need so that you’re ready for the big lifts required during a
When Christ spoke of well-fed birds and well-clad flowers,
He wanted to remind you of a key truth: The Creator who provides for the
humblest corners of the natural world has a full-scale benefits package
available for His dearly beloved humanity. As you trust God with the little
things, your faith matures and prepares you to tackle life’s big issues.
Personalizing the miraculous
Jesus wanted His listeners to personally connect with God.
That’s why He spoke of God as “your heavenly Father” in this passage.
From cover to cover, the Bible is a record of a loving God
who is intimately involved with every detail of life. When He is understood as
your Heavenly Father, even the “big stuff” He does can be viewed through a very
personal lens. From the creation of the cosmos to the parting of the Red Sea to
walking with the Hebrews in the fiery furnace, God’s actions relate to people
He loves. He wants those stories to encourage you.
As you read about God’s miracles in the Bible do you stop
and think about His love and concern for you personally? Do you realize that
whatever measures God was willing to take to protect and provide for His people
in the Old and New Testaments, He is willing to take for you?
Believe it or not, there really is no disconnect between
some huge act of historic deliverance, like the parting of the Red Sea, and the
way God is willing to respond to your own problems. Face it, if you’re dealing
with auto repairs, office politics, seasonal allergies or sleep apnea, you
don’t need a large body of water to peel back from the shore — but God
promises to provide whatever you do need.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
Jesus asked (6:27). As God, the One possessing perfect knowledge of how you are
made, Jesus knew better than any doctor in history that worry does anything but
add to your life.
University of Southern California psychologist Biing-Jiun
Shen used data from a national aging study to estimate the impact of chronic
worrying on the heart. Shen began tracking 735 confirmed heart-healthy men in
1986. By 2004, there had been 75 heart attacks among the participants. When
Shen identified men who scored in the top 15 percent of anxiety scales he found
they were 30 percent to 40 percent more likely
to have had a heart attack
than their more easygoing counterparts.
The very act of not worrying will contribute to your
improved health and help you optimize your physical response to the demands of
everyday living. But the real key to dealing with those demands is drawing ever
closer to God.
It’s all about relationship
“For the pagans run after all these things, and your
heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his
righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew
When Jesus spoke of “pagans,” His listeners probably
envisioned Gentiles or Romans in general or a hated tax-collector or next-door
Samaritan in particular. But Jesus was really trying to get people to examine
their own hearts and consider this simple distinction: You can remain outside
of a relationship with God and try to handle all of life’s issues on your own.
Or you can come into relationship with Him, recognize Him as your Heavenly
Father, and watch Him move your personal mountains and part whatever Red Sea
stands in your way.
Seeking God’s kingdom first does not demand some kind of
martyr mentality. Seeking God’s kingdom first unleashes His love and resources
in your behalf. Passionately pursuing a deeper relationship with God will move
you along your life journey with purpose and peace.
Don’t sweat it. You can have God in your corner, if you’re
just willing to ask and then respond in faith when He answers.
SCOTT HARRUP is senior associate editor of Today’s
Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (sharrup.agblogger.org).
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.