The Antidote To Worry
Feb 3, 2016 1069
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32
Almost all our worry is about the invisible tomorrow. Dale Carnegie in his excellent book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living tells how the most famous physician of the last century in the USA, William Osler, had his life changed by reading twenty-one words from Thomas Carlyle. Here are those words:
Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.
That changed Osler’s life. It made him a great physician.
Over two-score years later he addressed the students at Yale University. While crossing the Atlantic, he noticed on the great ocean liner, how the captain standing on the bridge, could press a button and with a clanging of machinery, various parts of the ship were immediately shut off from one another, shut off into water-tight compartments. So this is what Dr Osler said to the Yale students before him:
Each one of you is a much more marvellous organization than the great liner. You are bound on a longer voyage. What I urge is that you so learn to control the machinery as to live with day-tight compartments as the certain way to ensure safety on the voyage. Get on the bridge. See that at least the great bulkheads are in working order. Touch a button and hear at every level of your life the iron doors shutting out the past, the dead yesterdays. Touch another and shut off with a metal curtain the future, the unborn tomorrows. Then you’re safe. Safe for today. Shut off the past. Let the dead past bury its dead. Shut out the yesterdays which have lighted fools the way to dusty death. For the load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today makes the strongest falter. Shut off the future as tightly as the past. The future is today. There is no tomorrow. The day of man’s salvation is now. Waste of energy, mental distress, nervous worries, dog the steps of a man who’s anxious about the future. Shut close then the great fore and aft bulkheads and prepare to cultivate the habit of a life of day- tight compartments (How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, p. 2).
This is wonderful counsel from Dr Osler for all of us.
The grand old hymns of the Christian faith tell us the same story. I have a hymnbook in my hand now, and I’m looking at that hymn by John Henry Newman, “Lead Kindly Light.” Let me remind you of its first verse.
Lead, kindly light / amid the encircling gloom / Lead Thou me on / The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead Thou me on. / Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see / The distant scene; one step’s enough for me.
It should be enough for me too. It should be enough for you.
– Des Ford. Rom 8:27–32 (from “Are You A Worry Wart?”)