One of my favorite Bible verses is Matthew 6:34, “Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Common English Bible) Those are the words of Jesus himself, words that I have repeated to myself many times through the years. Jesus’ words bring me peace and remind me that he is in control and I can always trust him.
And while I continue to find peace in this verse, and believe that God is in control, I have to wonder how we can possibly not live worry-free at a time like this. Because it is one thing to have faith, and know in our hearts that God will walk with us through all things. But it is another to live this out daily when our reality has become stay-at-home orders, empty grocery store shelves, unemployment, financial worries, and coronavirus numbers that trend upward by the hour. How can we not be worried?
Perhaps the best thing we can do is to understand the difference between being worried and being concerned. Because we should all be deeply concerned right now.
In Matthew 6:19-34, Jesus contrasted heavenly values to earthly values. He explained that our first loyalty should be to the things that do not fade, cannot be stolen or used up, and never wear out. He teaches that if we are too fascinated with our own possessions, our possessions will soon own us. His point is simply that God alone deserves to be our Lord and Master.
So, either we store our treasures with God (6:20-21) and remain focused on him and serve him alone, or we don’t serve him at all. Focusing on God, and placing our trust in him, helps alleviate worry. Focusing on God, helps us instead to have a healthy concern for our situation.
How do we differentiate between worry and concern? Constant worry has many negative effects: damaged health, lower productivity, an inability to interact well with other people, and a reduce ability to trust in God. In short, worry immobilizes us.
Healthy concern, however, especially when we seek God’s wisdom, has positive effects: it moves us to make plans, to take action, and to trust in God’s guidance. Planning is time well-spent and it alleviates worry.
We have two choices right now, it seems: we either trust God, or we don’t. Remember that to “seek the Kingdom of God above all else” (6:33) means to put God first in your life, to fill your hearts with his desires, to take his character for your pattern, and to serve and obey him in everything. Spend time in prayer and Bible reading. Be blessed in knowing him more deeply. And don’t let worries about tomorrow affect your relationship with God today. Prayer: Creator God, life is complicated more than usual right now. Give me understanding and patience with myself and with others. Give me wisdom to make plans for each day that honor you. In Christ’s name. Amen.