Have you ever seen in action the dynamic described in the Gospel? Recently I witnessed it in play in the Dade City Dollar Tree. A 4-year was touching every bag of candy that was within his reach from his seat in the grocery cart. His mom retraced her steps a couple of times trying to decide what the kids might accept for supper. The child’s voice was a continuous undertone of hinting. “Oh, Mom, this looks so good! Mom, this is a good one, too. Mom, the other kids would really like this kind.” Mom repeated her mantra: “But we are not here for candy. We are not getting candy today.” As they were coming to the end of the aisle, her automatic reply changed: “Oh, just stop and put it in the basket.” Can’t you hear that child silently cheering? “Yea, it worked again.”
Remember, in Jesus’ time a widow not only had the hurdle of being a woman, but she also faced a terrible judge who had no fear of God. The widow in our story today didn’t sit at home wringing her hands about her problem. She got up and she took action! She figured: “God helps those who help themselves.” So, she approached the only person that could help her. She didn’t let worry fill her mind with bad thoughts of the worst that could happen. She is an example of one who sees the glass, not half empty, but half full. She didn’t let worrisome thoughts stew until her worry became like water spilling over rocks. First a mere trickle of doubt creeps into your mind. If it isn’t stopped, it soon becomes a stream of fear which creates a pond of paranoia which overflows into a river of distress which develops into a raging torrent of tension. And before you know it, the flood of worry has carved a Grand Canyon of anxiety in your mind! Attention to detail is one thing but worry, one writer says is “faith in the negative”. “Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.” (Author unknown) Charles Schulz of “Peanuts” fame, once said: “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”
The Apostle Paul is a typical example of someone who could set worry aside as he attacked his problems. Stuck in a Roman dungeon facing the possibility of being beheaded, he did not worry about dying. He prayed. And in addition to praying, he wrote letters to encourage Christians to pray instead of worry. For instance, he wrote to the Philippians from his damp, dark, depressing dungeon: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worry into prayers. Before you know it, you’ll feel a sense of God’s wholeness. Everything will come together for good and settle you down.”
When we face a challenging circumstance, we have two choices. We can lose heart and let worrisome thoughts control our minds; or we can pray the sentiment in the prayer commonly referred to as the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
The child at the Dollar Tree and the widow in the Gospel both seem to innately know an acronym that was new to me: “P.U.S.H.” Pray Until Something Happens! Every time you come to a door that says PUSH – let God remind you: “Pray Until Something Happens!”
~by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB