A Noxious Tree

   The black walnut tree has a peculiar quality that affects the soil about its roots with a poisonous substance very unfavorable to the growth of many kinds of vegetation. Grass may grow luxuriously under it, but many other things shrivel and die.

  There is a something in many lives that corresponds to the black walnut tree. In its baneful influence many of the good things of life cannot develop.

  This tree is a noxious tree. It grows in the land of unbelief. It is found nowhere else. It is the worry tree. Many lives are cursed with this tree. It is one of their most prominent characteristics. It spreads its shadow over everything. It shuts out the sunlight. It poisons the soil. It draws up into itself the resources of the soul as a natural tree draws water from the soil, leaving spiritual faculties and powers parched and impoverished; it prevents their proper development and fruition.

  Worry is one of the worst things that comes into a life. Perhaps only sin is worse; worry may even become sinful. It is a form of fear. Fear, worry, anxiety, foreboding, are all the same in effect and will all be treated together. The worry tree does not grow in the land of faith. But in the land of unbelief and questioning it spreads its great roots of doubt deeply into the soil.

  The results of worry are too numerous to be recounted in full.

  One result is that wherever worry is given place it stops the song of joy. We cannot be glad when we worry. We cannot be free and happy. The moment we worry over a thing peace, joy, satisfaction, comfort, all vanish. The sun goes behind a cloud. A chill wind blows upon us. There are many people who make themselves utterly wretched through worry. Its effects are not merely spiritual. The whole being is poisoned by it. Perhaps it would be well to consider some of the effects worry produces. If we know those effects it may cause us to avoid that which produces these effects.

  We note first the physical effects. There are certain glands located in various portions of the body that control the bodily functions. Some of these glands are excited to action by fear. They secrete a powerful substance that is poured into the blood-stream and produces immediate effects. It is this that causes one to run away from danger or to be able to expend much greater energy than at any other time. A good purpose is served by these glands, but when they are overstimulated by fear, worry, anxiety, or any other emotion they produce too great an effect upon the nerves. This tends to make one nervous and this in turn reacts to produce fear and worry. This action and reaction continued, repeated over and over, breaks down the nerves. A great many nervous people are what they are simply because they have given way to worry. It upsets the whole course of nature. Many physical disorders are the direct result of worry. A few quotations from medical authorities may help to make this plain.

  Doctor McCoy says, "The mind can have a powerful stimulating effect toward either health or disease. When the mind is properly used and controlled health may be maintained under many adverse conditions, but when the mind is torn by conflicting, destructive emotions it kills the very cells it is supposed to guard over and control." Again he says, "You must realize how important the mind is as a factor in the production of many chronic disorders. Sometimes this process is so insidious as to be unrecognized except by the closest attention of a skilled diagnostician. In my practice I have seen a number of cases of paralysis which were induced by slight injury associated with fear. Altho these patients had been to many different doctors and undergone many different kinds of treatments they were not cured until this fear factor was recognized and then the cure took place almost instantly."

  Doctor Copeland, late health commissioner of New York City, says, "Worry has pronounced effect upon the organisms. If your hair is inclined to be oily you will observe that no matter how frequently you scrub it, it grows oily very quickly if you are worried." Again he says of the effect of worry, "The digestion is upset because the nerves controlling the circulation and muscular structures are 'jumpy'' and disturbed in function. The intestinal action is disturbed. The brain and nervous system are upset. The glands operate irregularly. The whole system is deranged. Good teeth, as indeed good eyes and ears and heart and blood vessels and liver and kidneys, are dependent on lack of worry and plenty oŁ restful sleep. Worry is deadly to vigor and usefulness."

  A whole book of this sort of quotations could easily be selected. Dr. G. H. McIntosh says, "If men could wipe out all fear from their minds, nine tenths of them would be free from sickness." Henry Ward Beecher said, "It is not work that kills men; it is worry. Worry is rust upon the blade."

  The mental effect of worry and fear is equally as great as the physical effect. Through worry people often work themselves up into a sort of mental fever so that their nerves "go to pieces." When we worry the mind cannot think clearly. The judgment is impaired. Things look out of proportion. They do not seem natural, but appear altogether different from what they do when the mind is in a normal condition. Sometimes worry produces great mental distress. Sometimes it partly or entirely unfits one for work. Have you not heard people say, "I am so upset I ;just cannot do anything."

  This mental condition reacts upon the body; the physical effects of worry react upon the mind; and we have a vicious set of actions and reactions set up, destructive alike to mind and body. An agitated state of the mind affects the brain n tissues The poisons created in the body through fear and worry react upon the brain tissues and the mind becomes still more troubled. These things are not imaginary. They are being suffered by thousands of individuals. People get up in the morning tired out. They have no energy. They have to drive themselves. This is one common effect of worry. Another common result of worry is lack of mental control so that the mind cannot be concentrated on anything.

  Worry also has a spiritual effect. It destroys faith. In fact, faith and worry are mutually destructive. Faith will destroy worry and worry will destroy faith. So whichever is given ascendancy will destroy the other. Worry stimulates doubts. The more we worry the more we doubt. We have heard people talk about blind faith. Faith is not nearly so blind as doubt. Doubt cannot see favorable things. It sees everything in an unfavorable light and magnifies it. There may be ever so many favorable elements in a situation but doubt sees none of them. Worry sees none of them. Worry brings gloom and discouragement. It makes one moody, forgetful of God's goodness and mercy and helpfulness. In fact, worry shuts God out of the picture. It causes us to forget him or makes us doubt him, doubt ourselves, and doubt others. Under the influence of worry we can draw the most gloomy mental pictures. We clothe everything in somber tints.

  Worry also leads to self-condemnation. It makes us minimize the good there is in us and the good there is in life. It prevents us from exercising our powers. With worry there is a great troop of evils. They cluster around it and add to its damaging influence. Worry is always evil. It never serves any good purpose. It never aids us in accomplishing anything. It never makes anything easier. It has nothing to recommend it.

  More than that, worry is never necessary. Mark well that statement. It is a positive truth. Worry is never necessary. First, because it never can help us. It can never make things easier or better. It never did any good. It never cured any trouble. Second, we do not have to worry. There is always a better way. We shall attempt to point out that way later.

  Worry is altogether folly. It not merely does no good—it always makes things worse. It weakens every good thing. It strengthens every bad thing. Worry is a noxious tree. It bears poisonous fruits. Reader, have you one of these poisonous worry trees ? You must rid yourself of it before you can sing the glad songs of rejoicing that come from a free soul. One of the secrets of the singing heart is the remedy for worry.

 

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