For two of the last three Sundays, I have spent time on the subjects of worry and faith--once in the lectionary readings for chapel services and once by request to our youth Sunday School class. The text from the lectionary is Jesus' very familiar teaching from St. Matthew:
“No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
-- Matthew 6.24-34, HCSB
Oh that we could take Jesus' words to heart and recognize how unnecessary and useless worry is.
It is unnecessary, Jesus teaches, because God graciously takes care of even the some of the smallest and (supposedly) insignificant parts of nature--birds and grass. Have you ever noticed the multitudes of birds that sometimes flock on power lines at the end of each day? There are countless numbers of them just in one small spot. We cannot fathom their total numbers! Think back on a field of wildflowers--bluebonnets here in Texas, of course--and how there is no way to begin to count them. And again, this is just in one small patch of earth. Both of these things are innumerable to our minds and seemingly unimportant, yet not a single one of them is beyond the care of God.
Why do you worry...aren't you worth more than they?
Not only is worry unnecessary, it is useless. It might be one thing to worry if it actually changed anything for the better, but it doesn't. Not a single one. Who has ever made themselves a fraction of an inch taller or made their lives even a few minutes longer by worrying? No one. In fact, worry quite often has negative physical affects! The stress it creates tends to cut lives short instead of lengthening them.
So don't worry [about fleeting physical needs]...your heavenly Father knows you need them.
Surely won't God, who gave us life and salvation--what greater gifts could there be--watch over us and give us the little things we need, hour by hour? Of course he will.
O Father, this day may bring some hard task to our life, or some hard trial to our love. We may grow weary or sad or hopeless in our lot. But, Father, our whole life until now has been one great proof of Thy care. Bread has come for our body, thoughts to our mind, love to our heart, and all from Thee. So help us, we implore Thee, while we stand still on this side of all that the day may bring, to resolve that we will trust Thee this day to shine into any gloom of the mind, to stand by us in any trial of our love, and to give us rest in Thy good time as we need. May this day be full of a power that shall bring us near to Thee and make us more like Thee. Amen.
-- Robert Collyer