The late comedian George Burns who remained active up until the very end of his life at age 100 often boasted jokingly about his daily consumption of a good cigar and a martini. Wouldn’t we all love to shatter the longevity odds as he did and still indulge in our favorite unhealthy habit on a daily basis – whether it be ice cream, Snicker bars, chips, sodas, or even martinis and cigars? Few of us can count on such luck I’m afraid. The best we can hope for is that occasional moderate imbibing might result in minimal harm. During a rare serious moment in his autobiography even George Burns admitted that there were probably other factors that attributed to his longevity besides his daily dose of martinis and cigars. One of those had to do with his response to worry. An example he shared occurred during a time in his late eighties when he was facing open-heart bypass surgery. When asked if he was worried about the surgery he responded “no”, that was the doctor’s problem not his.
I grew up in a farming community and let me assure you that farmers have a lot to worry about. They work long, hard, tedious hours improving their property, maintaining machinery, learning new methods, preparing and planting their fields, then nurturing their crops to ensure they are not overtaken by weeds or eaten by insects. The remainder of the process, though, depends on the forces of nature over which they have no control, leaving plenty of opportunity for worry. Yet many of the seasoned farmers I knew learned to handle it the same way as George Burns. Once they had done all they could do it became the problem of the One who controls nature not theirs. Thus most of them managed to live long fulfilling lives in spite of the uncertainties of their profession.
No one’s life is exempt from problems and concerns. Yet if we allow ourselves to be overcome by worry it can immobilize us; it can damage our health, consume our thoughts, disrupt our productivity, negatively impact the way we treat others, and reduce our ability to trust in God and in others. Or we can work hard and do all we can then let the rest of it become the doctor’s problem, or nature’s problem – or better yet, the problem of the One who controls all things. When we do we still may not live as long as George Burns, but there’s a good chance we will live as well as he did.