Sleepless Nights?!

Said the robin to the sparrow: “I would really like to know why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so much.” Said the sparrow to the robin: “Friend, I think that it must be that they have no Heavenly Father as we have, One who cares for you and for me.” This quip from Elizabeth Cheney says it all. There is no point in worrying. “Every evening I turn my worries over to God”, wrote wittily Mary Crowley in her book ‘Be somebody’. “He’s going to be up all night anyway!!”

You see, God is a good Father and so He is a help in trouble. In our worries, on the other hand, we are alone. We have been inwardly fashioned for faith and not for fear. “Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath-these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely-these are my native air.”

When he speaks about his ‘do not be anxious’ principle, Jesus invited his listeners to look at the birds, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Perhaps this is what gave the cue to the United States Public Health Service, who in a statement presenting statistics on nervous diseases and showing the tendency of the worry habit to shorten life, wrote: “So far as it is known, no bird ever tried to build more nests than its neighbor; no fox ever fretted because he had only one hole in which to hide; no squirrel ever died of anxiety lest he should not lay by enough nuts for two winters instead of one, and no dog ever lost any sleep over the fact that he did not have enough bones laid aside for his declining years.”

Worry is indeed fear’s reckless spending. “It extracts interest on trouble before it comes due. It constantly drains the energy God gives us to face daily problems and to fulfill our many responsibilities. It is therefore a sinful waste.”

As Robert J. Burdette says, “There are two days in the week about which and upon which I never worry… yesterday and tomorrow.” This is why this humorous story makes sense.

During a war in ancient Greece, a soldier was caught and sentenced to death. He insisted on seeing the king and when he was granted the interview, he came out with an outlandish proposition. “O great king,” he said, “if you do not execute me, but instead allow me to live five years more, I will teach your favorite horse to sing.”

The king agreed and the captured soldier was led away. In prison, his companions queried what the meaning of his proposal was. “You are crazy!” they told him. “You’ll never manage to make a horse sing, and in the end the king will kill you!” To which our protagonist replied, “In five years, anything can happen. The king may die, I may die, or, who knows?!, a horse may learn to sing.”

Perhaps the only times we should start worrying, says this humorous caption entitled ‘How you can tell when it’s going to be a rotten day’ is when you wake up face down on the pavement, or when you call suicide prevention and they put you on hold for an hour, or when your birthday cake collapses under the weight of the candles, or when your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a group of Hell’s Angels on the freeway, or when your income tax check bounces…

Yes, we are absurd in our worries. An old woman was going on foot to the nearby market to sell some oranges that she placed in a basket and put on her head. A guy passed up with his pickup and offered a lift to the old lady. She accepted the offer gladly.

After some time, the young man looked back to see if the lady was enjoying the ride. Imagine his surprise when he saw the old woman sitting on his open back of the truck with the basket still on her head. “Mum, what are you doing?! Why don’t you put down your basket down on the truck?!” “Oh,” she answered, “I did not want to take advantage of your kindness! You already have enough weight carrying me… why should you carry my load of oranges too?!”

Moral of the story? Simple. He, who is carrying us throughout life, can carry also our loads. Cast all your burdens on Him!

Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere. Exchange worry with trust. Or as the saying goes, keep to the three Fs…Fret not – He loves you (John 13:1). Faint not – He holds you (Psalm 139:10). Fear not – He keeps you (Psalm 121:5).


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.