Destroying The Worry Tree  

   The vigor and tenacity of life in a tree is determined largely by the soil in which it grows. I lived for many years in a State where the soil is fertile, the ground level, and where beech trees were very numerous. I had occasion to girdle many of them and observed that they were very easily killed. Previously to this time I had lived in another State where the soil is clay and the country very hilly. Here the beech trees were very hard to kill.

  I remember a neighbor's killing a tree that stood by the roadside. He not only girdled it, but the boys climbed the tree and cut off the branches a little distance from the trunk. These were then piled around the tree and burned. I wondered why they were taking such radical steps to kill the tree. The next spring I learned their reason. In spite of all of this treatment the stubs of the branches that had been cut off threw DUt new branches and leafed out. The roots sprouted up and with all their labor they had not accomplished their purpose. The difference was not in the climate; it must have been in the soil.

  We have already pointed out that the "worry tree" grows in the soil of doubt. We can hold an attitude ;hat is favorable to worry, fear, and other things that have unpleasant consequences. On the other hand we can hold an attitude of faith that is altogether unfavorable toward these things. In order to destroy the "worry tree" we should change the soil about its roots. We cannot uproot it and destroy it by an act of our will.. We can take away its favorable oil. We can develop faith. We can believe in God and in ourselves. We can turn our eyes away from our worries and our troubles and look upon God. We can cease to fertilize the "worry tree." We can cease to rob ourselves of our heritage of victory willed to us by our heavenly Father.

  We can have that rest of soul God has promised us. We can find it only in him. But as long as we permit all our time to be occupied with giving attention to our worries we shall have no time to give to the cultivation of those other things that God would freely develop in us that would give us happiness and contentment. We so often cultivate doubts instead of cultivating faith. It is important that we learn how we are doing this, and then adopt a different course. We can all have faith if we will go about it right, and faith is the victory that overcometh all of our troubles.

  One of the best ways to get rid of worries is to ignore the doubts upon which they are founded. Troubles let alone have a way of curing themselves. As long as we fill our brain with worry we increase our trouble. The less we think about our troubles the smaller they become. The more we think about them the more rapidly they grow, and the less capable we are of overcoming them, or meeting them successfully.

  The surest way to get rid of the "worry tree" is to cut it down with the ax of faith. There is no worry or fear in trust. If I repeat this thought over and over, it may sink deep into your heart and mind and that is what you need. When you worry you do not trust. When you trust you do not worry. You cannot do both these at one time.

  Permit me to suggest a way to develop your faith. Take your Bible and some paper. Write out a list of promises, promises that meet your need. Read these promises over every day. Read them until they become real to you. Whenever you catch yourself worrying or fearing, get those promises and read them. Say after you read each one, "This is true, and it means me." Say this over and over until you come to believe it. Perhaps at first your words will mock you. Perhaps the promises will seem to mock you. I have had the experience. I know how it feels. I know too from personal experience that one can keep right at it, reading these promises, asserting that they are true, asserting that they mean us, until in our own consciousness they do come to mean us. They come to soothe and comfort us. They neutralize our fears. Little by little we come to trust in them, and as we trust we cease to worry. Our fears grow less. We come into a restful attitude. There is a sure cure for all of our worries if we take it. That cure is an attitude of simple trust in God and his promises.

  Worry is a mental habit. Children do not worry, or if they do, it is only momentarily. There is a natural flexibility to the human mind that throws off worry, until we rob it of its flexibility by cultivating the habit of worrying. Any habit can be broken, so the worry habit can be broken. If you are troubled with worry, start in to break yourself of it just as you would break yourself of any other improper or hurtful habit. Worrying is an extremely hurtful habit. It is an abnormal mental state possible of correction and we owe it to ourselves to correct it.

  We cannot help thoughts coming into our minds, but it is within our power to direct our thoughts. We can repress some of our thoughts. We can compel ourselves to quit thinking along some lines. It is usually easier to supplant improper thoughts with other brighter, more cheerful thoughts. From a long experience of suffering, confined to my bed, with nothing to do, being in fact unable to do anything, and having gone to the depths of discouragement, after facing black despair for months I learned the lesson of supplanting these with better thoughts. I found that I must keep my thoughts off myself; so I deliberately turned my thoughts into other channels. Of course the old gloomy thoughts reasserted themselves, but as often as they came back I supplanted them with something else, and finally broke myself completely of the habit of worrying and of thinking depressing thoughts.

  One thing very needful is the will not to worry. The power of suggestion has a profound effect upon us. Our thoughts have this power of suggestion. We can suggest negative things to our mind, or we can suggest positive things. We can suggest discouraging things, or we can suggest encouraging things. We can make our minds run in the channel in which we choose for them to run. Positive suggestion is the basis of a happy and successful life. Make your thoughts help you, rather than hinder you.

  One trouble with many people is that they are always resisting something. They are always on the defensive. This attitude of resistance toward our circumstances nd surroundings places us under a continuous strain. One writer has said, "Most nervous patients are in a constant state of muscular contraction; but a large percentage of the things that harass and vex them, causing them nervous tenseness, would cease to torture them if they would simply stop resisting. It is our perpetual resistance to annoying trifles that gives them power to annoy us."

  I do not advocate surrender to circumstances. What we need is to adjust ourselves to them. This constant revolt against circumstances so common in many people takes the joy out of their lives. It keeps them under a perpetual strain. It uses up their energy to no purpose. Do not use up your energy resisting things. Displace the undesirable thing by something else if that is possible. If not, adjust yourself to it, make the best of it. Let us use in these things as great intelligence as we do in other things. When I am cold I do not resist the cold; I seek warmth. When I am hungry I do not resist hunger; I seek food. When I am weary, I rest. When I am anxious or worried, I turn to faith and trust. The Psalmist said, "What time I am afraid I will trust in thee." He had learned the secret of overcoming trouble.

  The word "worry" is not in the Bible. You may look for it from cover to cover. You will not find it. Since God did not see fit or think it necessary to use the word "worry" in the Bible, or have it used, just so it need not be in the Christian life. To be sure the equivalent is in the Bible. We find fear, trouble, and words of like nature, but we are commanded not to be afraid, not to be troubled.

  Many people are like those of whom the Psalmist speaks. They are "in great fear, where no fear was" (Ps. 63: 5). The margin says, "They feared a fear where no fear was." Most of our troubles are imaginary, or if there is real trouble we add much to it through our imagination and fear. Some people are so afraid of trouble that they are never at rest. They are frightened at nothing; even as it is written, "The sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them" (Lev. 26: 36).

  Listen to this promise: "Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil" (Prov. 1: 33). Here is the promise that God made for us through Abraham, "That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, . . . all the days of our life" (Luke 1: 74-75).

  The experience of the Psalmist may be our experience if we will do as he did: "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears" ( Ps. 34: 4). We shall also do well to hold an attitude like that David held. He said, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Ps. 27:1). The result of holding that attitude is stated in verse three, "Tho an host should encamp against me, I my heart shall not fear: tho war should rise against me, in this will I be confident." Read also Ps. 46: 1-2. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, tho the earth h removed, and tho the mountains be carried into the | midst of the sea." Again, "In God I have put my trust; will not fear what flesh can do unto me" (Ps. 56: 4). The exhortation of Christ is, "Be not anxious" (Matt. 6:25, American Standard Version). Read also verses 81, 84; Luke 12: 25-26.

  Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled" (John 14:1). What reason does he give that we should not be troubled? He continues, "Ye believe in God." To him that was sufficient reason for not worrying. It ought to be sufficient reason to us. In verse 27 he says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you.... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

  Now, for a concluding thought which we shall do well to keep fresh in our minds. When we trust in and obey God, whatever comes to us must come in his will. It must come by his permission. It cannot come without his knowledge. His watchful care is ever over us. He will always keep us no matter how many troubles come. Therefore if we abide in him and his Word abide in us, we shall never have cause to worry. We are safe and secure no matter how threatening future or present troubles may be. So cut down your worry tree with the ax of faith and rest in full assurance of faith in the righteousness and love of God.