Once upon a time, there was an itinerary prophet who daily walked and chimed his holy bell at dawn around his community in a fervent call-to-worship. In his preaching and praying odysseys, the peripatetic prophet knocked on the gate of the house of a rich businessman whose wife was expecting their first child after many years of marriage. Each time the prophet came knocking at the gate requesting access to the rich man, the overzealous gateman always rebuffed him. In spite of the harsh words from the gateman, the prophet did not give up. He continued in his persistent demand to ask to pray for the man of the house and deliver the message God had given him to the household.
One beautiful morning the prophet showed up as usual at the gate, but the rebuffing gateman was not on duty. It was the driver who responded to the rattling knocks on the gate.
“How can I help you, sir?” the driver asked.
The prophet went on prophesying.
“I always want to speak to Oga, but the gateman will not let me. But tell Oga that a baby will soon be born in this house. Tell him that the baby will live only four days, his mother will die in six days, and his father will die in 90 days. Tell Oga to pray to God very well may be God will have mercy”.
The driver asked the prophet to wait as he quickly went into the house to get his boss to hear the message directly from the man of God. By the time the boss stepped outside, the prophet was gone. The driver told his boss what the prophet had said. Three months later, the baby was born. And four days after the birth, the boy died as prophesied by the Man of God. Six days later, the mother died. The rich man boss went berserk and bananas. He knew that the next person to die would be him. He began to panic.
Anxiety is a psychological disorder characterised by tension, the expectation of an impending disaster, and continuous vigilance for disaster. It is an overactivity of the autonomic nervous system. This I learned in psychology class decades ago. Anxiety grabbed this rich man by the jugular. One by one, he began to auction his belongings. He sold everything and spent the whole money gulping on Gulder and Hennessy. After all, God was going to kill him in a few months, he thought to himself. He was losing weight. He was looking pale. He was emaciating fast. He was worried.
My friends, worry is a killer that follows everybody who welcomes it. It is an annoyance that follows even anointed pastors who want a big church, big membership, followed by big money and a private jet. Worry follows a senator and governor who have taken out high-interest loans from the bank because they want to win this election and the next one after that. It follows a vice president who is unsure who is a friend or a foe in his orbit. It follows the president in his presidential villa. He is unsure if the nation’s economy will collapse or stay alive under his watch. Worry is a pest that follows many Christian believers to church and Muslims to the mosque. Worry torments the wife at home and tortures the husband at work. When you worry, you are silently declaring that you, not your Creator, are in charge of your life. Worry worries only the worry-wart. Oga, what are you worried about?
Many times, we worry about what we have no business worrying about. That was the story of my friend in Bloomington who developed serious chronic headaches, earaches, joint pains, chest pain, dizziness, palpitations, and all different kinds of pain. He has had a CT scan done on his head, MRI on his joints and muscles, cystoscopy for his bladder, colonoscopy for his colons, EKG for chest troubles, HIV test for AIDS, PT, PTT, and a series of blood work to determine what ailed him. My friend was a frequent visitor to the Emergency Room in the small American town he lived. He had once decided to run away to some lonely desert in Africa so he could get his happy-go-lucky sanity back. After many probing and prodding, doctors did not find any disease.
What are people worried about? People worry about things that will never happen. They worry about past things that cannot be changed. They worry about criticism of them by others. Many people worry about their health, which gets worse by worrying. Reputable Mayo Clinic in the US once had this report about its patients that 70% of all medical patients who come to their facility could cure themselves if they did not worry. Worry is tied to heart trouble, blood pressure problems, ulcers, thyroid malfunction, and migraine headaches…120 million Americans have high blood pressure due to worry. One million more develop high blood pressure each year. Eight million have stomach ulcers. Every week, 112 million people take medication for worry-related symptoms. Oga, why are you so worried?
Your refusal to worry does not mean that everything is perfect. It means that you have decided to look beyond the imperfections and put your hope in the perfect God. Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey. For every minute you are worried, you lose 60 seconds of happiness. Worrying about things you can’t change doesn’t help you. It will only endanger your health and enslave your being. Instead of worrying, create your own inner well-being and find your own place of happiness. Think about happy things for a good mood begets good health. Do happy things daily and have fun doing them. By doing these, then you will pass your time happily every day. In good spirits, sickness will cure. In a happy spirit, sickness will cure faster. In high and happy spirits, sickness will never come.