Was there anything to laugh about in 2001? Sure was! Let me tell you about Miss Alice.
Just three weeks after 9-11 there was a second scare that gripped the nation. A demented person had mailed envelopes with anthrax spores to several politicians and media types.
It was about that time that I visited my sweet elderly friend Alice. When I arrived, I found her nervously pacing in front of her home while holding her hands in the air.
I asked, “What’s wrong, Miss Alice?” She ignored my question and asked me to turn on the garden hose so she could rinse her hands.
I offered to open her home so she could wash with soap, but she gave me a terse, “No.”
Evidently, she had a small exercise ball in her mini-van which she had used over the past five years to help her arthritic fingers. But on that day, the seam broke and the filling got all over her hands
Unfortunately, the filling was a white powdery substance. Well Miss Alice just knew that some diabolical terrorist had sneaked into her mini-van and filled her little exercise ball with anthrax in order to kill her.
So, I explained that it would take a brilliant terrorist to be able to hide the anthrax in that ball, so that five years later it would break open at the exact time that the other attacks were happening. No response.
I tactfully tried to help her see that elderly ladies were not a high priority on the terrorist hit list. She didn’t believe me. Her fears were blocking her ears.
That week, she called numerous state and federal agencies and eventually wore down a bureaucrat in Austin who agreed to test her exercise ball for anthrax. I wish I could have listened in on that conversation!
Once again, our nation is gripped with national anxieties. Some of it is appropriate. We should be concerned about viral social interactions and about the financial chaos.
But our responses are sometimes silly.
An Irish man recently had a painful accident. His wife vainly scoured the town looking for pain meds. She stood in a line at one pharmacy and saw that the woman in front of her had the last 5 boxes of what she sought. She asked if she might have some for her distressed husband. The woman obliged, “and admitted she didn’t actually need the medicine, but they were the only ones left in the store so she thought she should buy them all in case she couldn’t get them again.”
Jesus’ sensible words help in times like these. He told us in Matthew 6:34, “So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.” NET Bible®
He prioritized concern for us. He told us not to worry about what might happen tomorrow – with the stock market, or your job, or how you are going to cope with your bored-to-tears kids.
Jesus wants us to plan for tomorrow (Luke 14:28-33) but He does not want us to worry about it.
Then He gives us two reasons why. First: “for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
We know from our own experience that most of our tomorrow worries never materialize. Issues tend to be resolved before tomorrow comes because we have a God who lovingly and sovereignly works things out for us. Besides, we have no control over tomorrow no matter how carefully we plan.
His second reason to forgo worry: “Today has enough trouble of its own.” Sounds to me like Jesus was speaking from experience. It is true, we need to spend our energies on managing the challenges that come to us each day. We can control our response to these.
But even with our daily concerns we can go overboard. Which is why He also said “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…” He spoke of the Father’s excellent care for the flowers of the field and the birds of the air and then asked. “Aren’t you more valuable (to Him) than they are?” (Matthew 6:25-26) Of course we are!
So how do we manage the anxieties of today? The prophet Isaiah suggested, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” – Isaiah 26:3 – KJV
That’s the Lord’s counsel on this matter. Don’t let your fears were block your ears.
I asked my wife to proofread this piece for me. She was prompted to ask, “Do you actually think of these verses at a time like this?” Hmm! I had to mull that question overnight.
In the morning I said, “No I do not think of these specific verses, mostly because I have assimilated their truth over the years – but yes, these are the specific kinds of thoughts that filter through my mind. If this were not the case, I would find myself depressed if not despairing.
I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit to being anxious these days. But when those toxic thoughts come, I try to redirect my mind to Him. I count the ways He has loved me and mine in the past and trust Him to do so in the present. It helps!
So, these are my thoughts for this week. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to run over to Miss Alice’ house to see if I can borrow a roll of toilet paper.