Jun 23, 2020 664 Ellen Hogarty,

The 11th Commandment

Did you know that worrying works? 90% of the things you worry about never happen!

Before You Choke

The last time I saw my father alive, we were talking in his hospital room. He had been fighting cancer for many months and was nearing the end of the battle. Having led many Bible studies and given many talks in his life, he told me, “If God gives me one more opportunity to teach about His Word, I’m going to talk about what I call the 11th Commandment—’Thou Shalt not Worry.’” This was a favorite theme of Dad’s. He was a man of great faith and trust in the Lord, who loved to teach people about how to gain victory over worrying by trusting in God’s providence.

Well, the Lord called Dad home six weeks later, so he never gave that final talk, but I would like to share the gist of it here.

In the short passage from Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us three times, “Do not worry.” He tells us not to worry about our life, nor about what we will eat or drink, nor about our body, what we will wear. “Indeed, your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things,” Jesus assures us.

Worry shows a lack of trust in God. However, worry is so much a part of our culture and society that we look on it as normal.

We think a woman is just being a good mother when she worries about her children. Or a person is a good business owner when he or she worries about their company or work. We do not see worry as disobedience. But it is.

The word “worry” comes from an old English term “wyrgan” which means to “choke” or “strangle.” That is what worry does to our faith. It chokes or strangles it. We begin by praying for someone—a child, a sick relative, a troubled marriage—and before we know it, we are distracted with worries, then fear grips us and our faith gets choked.

It is hard to pray or even think clearly when we are worried. If you have ever seen a garden overgrown with weeds, you’ve seen how those weeds strangle any flowers or vegetables that are trying to grow alongside them.

Stop Worrying

So how do we stop our tendency to worry? There are two good places to start attacking the bad habit of worrying.

First, plant the Word of God in your heart. Learn God’s promises and write them down. Read them again and again until the Word of God takes deep root in your soul. Philippians 4:6-7 is a good place to start: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Second, go before the Blessed Sacrament. Bring your troubles before the Lord and lay them at His feet. Admit your inability to fix things and ask Jesus to take over. A wise and holy man once told me, “People’s troubles often melt away when they are in Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. They don’t know how or why, but their troubles start getting taken care of when they Adore the Lord in the Eucharist.”

It’s All Going to Be Fine

A few months after Dad died, something occurred that made a deep impression on me and reminded me of his teaching about worry.

He had been a loyal Boston Red Sox fan for many years. During the 2003 baseball playoffs – the last ones he watched – the Red Sox lost to their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees, despite seeming to have a good chance of making it to the World Series. It was a bitter defeat for all Red Sox fans, including my dad.

A few months later, right before Dad died, my younger sister, also a huge Red Sox fan, told him, “Dad, when you get to Heaven, make sure the Red Sox will beat the Yankees this year!” He smiled.

After he died in 2004, we watched the Yankees and the Red Sox face each other again in the playoffs. I am not a sports fan, but I was following this season of baseball in memory of Dad. With great confidence, I told my friends who were loyal Red Sox fans, “The Red Sox are going to win this year.”

Then they proceeded to lose the first 3 games in a row! Things did not look good.

After that third loss, I was walking on the ranch where I live,; feeling sad, missing my dad and disappointed that his team was losing. One of my friends was upset at me for falsely getting his hopes up. As I was reflecting on all of this, I suddenly had a mental picture of my dad smiling widely and reassuringly, as he declared, “Ell, why are you worried? It’s all going to be fine.” I had heard Dad say words to that effect to Mom hundreds, if not thousands, of times, growing up. She was the worrier, but no matter how bleak things looked, my dad would counsel her not to worry, that God was going to work everything out. And time and time again, God came through in surprising ways.

Shockingly, the Red Sox went on to win the next four playoff games in a row—something that had never happened before in baseball history. Not only did they beat the Yankees, but they went on to win the World Series in a four-game sweep, ending the 86-year-drought since their last World Series win in 1918.

Through this relatively unimportant sports victory, I knew Dad was focusing me on something much bigger. He was reminding me of his favorite theme: Do not worry! Trust in God. Things are going to work out…even when it seems impossible.

Life brings problems — big and small. But no matter what problems you are facing right now— financial difficulties, health issues, stressful relationships—remember that your Heavenly Father knows what you need and delights in taking care of you. Leave the worrying aside and give Him room to work. “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).


Ellen Hogarty

©Ellen Hogarty is a spiritual director, writer and full-time missionary with the Lord’s Ranch Community in New Mexico. She blogs at cacklescorner.com.

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