When I was a young teen, I remember enjoying reading Mad Magazine. The cover picture was often a portrait of the fictitious Alfred E. Neuman. “What, Me Worry” was the motto of that comic satire. It was suggesting we had every reason to be worried and should be worried. When I looked at Wikipedia to see the history of Mad Magazine, I was surprised to learn that Alfred’s likeness appeared “in early twentieth-century advertisements for painless dentistry—the origin of his ‘What, me worry?’ motto.” It was clear that there were things to be worried about and the magazine was full of satire on all aspects of life including popular culture and politics. I suspect Mom tolerated the magazine. She undoubtably found it to be a terrible waste of time. She tolerated it because it was something I would read, and she supported reading.
Mom did not worry, but not in an abstract or satirical way. It was because of things she read in the scriptures, including a well-known passage in Matthew’s Gospel about God’s birds. Jesus used the object lesson of the carefree bird flying in the air. In the air there is little food (unless you count flying insects and smaller flying birds.) Therefore, all birds, from the tiny hummingbird to the great bald eagle, depend on things they did not grow or provide. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” – Matthew 6:25-26 ESV.
John Piper has this to say about this lesson from Jesus: “Since your body and your life are vastly more complex and difficult to provide than food and clothing are, and yet God has, in fact, created and provided you with both, then surely he will be able and willing to provide you with food and clothing. Moreover, no matter what happens, God will raise your body some day and preserve your life for his eternal fellowship.” For this reason, mom could easily say, with confidence, “What, me worry?”