It is Thursday in Week One of COVID-19 reaction and response and I find myself drawn to one passage in Scripture above all others, the section in the Sermon on the Mount that is found in Matthew 6:25-34. It begins, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body as to what you will put on.” It ends, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
These words of Jesus have always seemed a bit overstated to me; or at the very least good words that are impractical, if not impossible, to live by. We have to make plans. We have to be ready for the future.
Yet Jesus tells us not to worry about those things. Planning is not eliminated, but planning out of fear is. Looking ahead to tomorrow is not forbidden, but letting anxiety over tomorrow ruin today is. To those who spend time and energy worrying anxiously Jesus says, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Concern for health and taking wise precautions is not condemned, but panic and fear will not add anything to the quantity of life and will surely detract from its quality. Jesus describes us, “You of little faith.”
If I had one of those Biblical names that expressed my character well this week I would need to be called “O Me of Little Faith”. In these days like none other days that we have lived I have worried about the future – about health, about death, about economic loss, about missed opportunities, about cherished rituals and routines, about the direst predictions of disruption that cause worry over whether everyone will get enough to eat.
What these few days have taught me is the deep wisdom of Jesus. Each day so far, I have had plenty to eat and drink. I have gone to work and had opportunity to do at least something that is useful and productive and hopefully helpful to someone. I have my usual love and support from those who care about me. Each day has been a good one, except for the time spent worrying about the possibilities that lie ahead and dreading the worst case scenarios.
The good news is that in the Bible people with descriptive names often had their names changed for the better. Perhaps my name can change. Maybe “O Me of Little Faith” can become “Daily Faith.” I do not aspire to become “O Me of Great Faith.” I know myself too well. But, I am learning from Jesus to live life one day at a time. God’s grace and blessing is actually far more sufficient for today than I need. It is worrying about the tomorrows that makes me feel small, overwhelmed, and out of touch with God’s presence and goodness.
Thinking about our hiatus from normal life and about the current and potential suffering from COVID-19, I am overwhelmed when I think about things going on for weeks or even months. But, all of my worry and anxiety makes nothing better for me or anyone else. But, when I receive today as the day the Lord has made, when I take inventory of all of God’s blessings to me today, then I am so much more at peace. I am of so much more value to others. Living by the day I can even find my way to rejoice and be glad.
Why is Jesus always right?!