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
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
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
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
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