An English writer calls worry the disease of the age. Mark the word disease, which Dr. Saleeby uses to designate worry. It is not a normal, but an unwholesome condition. In a perfectly healthy state one does not worry — but has the simple trust of a little child.
I want to talk to young people on this subject. But do young people ever worry? It would seem that they should not, that youth is free from care and discontent. Youth is the season of inexperience. Every day brings its new and strange things, its questions, its lessons, its mysteries, its disappointments, its fears. I need not go into the reasons for it — but the fact is that young people are quite as apt to worry as older people are. So Dr. Saleeby in his book writes about child worry as well as the worry of old age.
The time to learn any life-lesson is in youth. All habits, good and bad, are formed then. If you are going to pass through life without worry, now is the time to begin. If you let yourself become anxious and restless in the bright early days — you will probably go through life in the same unhappy way.
Have you ever thought of the way worry hurts and spoils a life? We cannot help growing older in years — but there is no reason why we should ever grow old in spirit. Yet worry makes people old in spirit, even in the days of youth when they should be as happy as birds.
Not only does worry make one age — but it takes the brightness out of life — the song, the joy, the enthusiasm. It covers the face with wrinkles. Our moods make our faces! Girls should always remain beautiful — but they cannot if they worry.
You know perfectly well that worry is entirely useless. It never did anybody any good. It does not take away the thing you worry about. Worry about health never made anyone more healthy. Worry about the hardness of one's work never made the work any lighter. "Ah — but you don't know my circumstances," some forlorn young fellow says, "or you wouldn't talk about the uselessness of worry." But, honestly, fellows, did you ever find a particle of help in worrying? Did it ever do you any good? "Be anxious for nothing," is the Bible teaching. The emphasis is on the word "nothing." There is absolutely nothing that we are ever to worry about!
It has been shown many times that a large amount of the worries people have, are about things that never really come to them. "Ills that never happened, have chiefly made men wretched," wrote an old poet.
It is said that a father had gathered his sons about him to hear his dying words. He gave them wise counsels. Last of all he said to them with deepening seriousness, "I have had a great many troubles in my life, a great many troubles, but — most of them never happened." The old man did well to warn his boys against foreboding.
Many dreaded troubles vanish as we move quietly toward them. Stones which we suppose block our course are rolled away as we approach. In any case we hear the Master's word, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own!"
There are hard points in every life that is worth while — but when we come to them through faithfulness and diligence we shall always find a way to meet them victoriously.
I would urge the young people, therefore, to put worry down among the things that are positively not to be admitted into their lives.
Lying is quite a common vice — but no young man would plead that he could not help lying, at least a little, now and then. Lying is to be absolutely avoided by everyone who would live worthily and be a good and noble man.
We ought to deal in the same positive way with worry. Think of it as a vice, a sin, just as profane swearing is. It is not a harmless indulgence, something we cannot help, which we are to admit into our life as an amiable infirmity. It is a sin, and we are never to compromise with sin.
I want to help our young fellows to reach the best manhood — not a soft and mushy manhood — but a manliness that is strong, pure, vigorous, brave, victorious. The young man that worries is weak — he is not master of himself. He lacks faith. He is not sure of himself. He yields to discouragement — another fatal defect in character.
Worry is the mother of a long list of evils. Only think to how many dangers it leads. The man who worries will never reach the finest things in attainment or achievement. Whatever you do — do not worry; put worry down in the list of things that are never to be indulged in, never to be thought of as possible.
Some of you would like to ask me how to learn not to worry. Perhaps you imagine that it takes a great deal of grace to do it. We need grace in everything. Without divine help we never can do anything. But some people expect God to do things for them, which they must do for themselves.
It is told of a great Christian scholar, that he was a very early riser. A young clergyman was talking to the old man about this habit and lamenting that he could not learn to rise early. "Tell me how you do it — I suppose you pray a great deal about it."
"No," said the godly man, "I get up."
Of course, you will pray about this — but the thing for you is — not to pray about it, but — not to worry!