Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
Have you ever noticed how sleep has a way of unwrapping things you are concerned about but are able to ignore during the day, and then present them to you in the middle of the night in high definition and living color?
You will note I said “concerns,” because it is almost universal that people of faith do not worry, or at least, do not like to admit to it.
In the King James Version of the Bible, the word “worry” is never translated — not once. In fairness, there are some words like “fret not” and “take no thought,” which in other translations may be rendered as worry.
I thought about that the other morning while I was mulling over some concerns, and a partial verse popped into my head: “You will not fear the terror of night.”
I do not have any clinical support for the idea, but there seems to be something about the middle of the night that feels like it magnifies problems. I tracked the verse down to find out the context. It is in verse five of the ninety first Psalm.
You may not be surprised to know that the verse doesn’t have anything to do with worry induced insomnia; it is related to the shelter and of those who “rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” It is directly related to protection from an enemy attack during the day or the night. If you are not familiar with the Psalm, I would recommend it to you. It is only 16 verses long and very encouraging.
Since I have already allowed the word “worry” into the conversation, it is only reasonable to spend some more time with the subject from a faith perspective. I have indicated the lack of translation of the word in the King James Version, but in the New International Version, worry is rendered 13 times.
Specifically, it is seen once in the Old Testament when the prophet Samuel told Saul, who would become the first king of Israel, not to worry about some lost donkeys. The other 12 are in Matthew, Mark and Luke, and all are direct quotes from Jesus, who said “do not worry.”
He gives specific things not to worry about, too, like what to eat or what to wear. Matthew records him saying, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matt 6:34 NIV.
I don’t think I can improve on that, but I have heard people say about worry, “It is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t take you anywhere.” Another wise person said to “Give your problems to God; He is going to be up all night anyway.”
I don’t want to minimize the potential, debilitating effects of chronic worry, but there are more assurances in the Bible than the space of this article will allow. Yet, I leave at least one to consider: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 NIV.
If you could figure it out, or fix the problem, it wouldn’t be a worry, so stop trying and give it to the only One who can.
Bill Upton is chaplain of the Tooele City Police Department.