Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tomorrow's Worries

“Don’t worry about tomorrow…tomorrow will worry about itself.”  Jesus, in Matthew 6:34

I’ve often wondered about this verse, and two things, one small and one not, have made me think about it again. The small thing is my son’s specific interest in the reference, and so this is for you, Nathan.

The bigger matter is life—specifically the near-daily onslaught of bad news, global and personal. News from around the world is particularly grim—wars, rumors of wars, atrocities, Christian persecution, racial tensions, and a
general message of helplessness coming from political leaders with serious speeches and no actions. I have a daughter and nephew in the military. I have a son in law who is a police officer. I have friends in many of the affected regions.

Worry creeps into the picture. What kind of world is this? Are children—including mine—going to be safe? Will my friends be harmed? Are Christians going to be silenced? Will our nation become a powerless observer of world evil, will war erupt and envelope much of the world again, or both?

At first blush, this verse sounds almost fatalistic—and these words, spoken outside this context would indeed be fatalistic. But Jesus is not saying that “que sera, sera” should be your thinking. The immediate context of Matthew 6 before this is about God’s amazing  and specific provision and direction of all things for the good of his creation generally and his people particularly. The preceding verse tells us to “seek first” God’s kingdom and righteousness, and what God provide what is needed as you pursue him. This means that the correct response to circumstance is not worrying about what is going on around us or what we need, but trusting in our Father’s understanding and provision. If we are pursuing God, Jesus says, everything else that we need will be taken care of as he sees fit.

Alright, but what about tomorrow’s needs or problems? We may be OK right now, but there are clouds on the horizon. I maybe safe right now, and my needs met, but just for today. Such thinking about what may come tomorrow will rob us of our joy in God’s provision today. So Jesus takes these commonly used words and gives them a better context. “Tomorrow and its needs? That’s tomorrow, not today. God has taken care of you for today. Seek him. And since when you wake up tomorrow it will be “today” you will have what you need then.” As another old saying goes, “tomorrow never comes.”

Tomorrow isn’t your reality—today is. So, don’t be worrying about tomorrow’s needs, tomorrow’s crises, tomorrow’s questions. In most cases, they won’t materialize as you anticipate. In every case, God has said he takes care of you—right now. Tomorrow’s worries? Let “tomorrow” have them, because God is with you today. Pray about future needs, and give those things to the Lord, but worry should be “permanently postponed,” because you are trusting in your God today.