Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Prior to March of this year I’d have read this passage in a different light. Since COVID19 it feels like we’ve had to do a lot more planning. Planning for how we go about worship and ministry at a distance, using technology, while we aren’t meeting in person. Planning for how we can begin to meet in person, at first in small groups, in such a way that allows for the safety of all in our congregation and community. This planning, which is happening throughout our society, puts a lot of focus on the future, a future which is hard to predict. All this planning can also add a lot of stress and anxiety on those tasked with making and carrying out the plan. Yet in Matthew’s Gospel Jesus says not to worry about tomorrow, not to worry about the future.
This passage (Matt. 6:25-34 in total) sits within the Sermon on the Mount. The location of this passage in Jesus’ sermon gives us some clue as to how we might interpret it and learn from it during our current situation. Jesus tells those listening not to store up earthly treasures that can be eaten by moth and rust, but instead to build up treasure in heaven. He says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (verse 21) He also teaches that one cannot serve two masters, that one cannot love both God and wealth. These teachings along with the passage on worry all point us to where our proper focus and alignment should be, God.
By keeping God as our primary focal point we are trusting the providence of God; the very same God who brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, the very same God who accompanied them in exile to Babylon, and the very same God who raised Jesus from the dead. All the time, but especially during an ever changing pandemic, there is a lot that we can worry about, a lot that we need to plan for. It is one thing to prepare ourselves as best we can for what may come, but it is another thing to let that preparation consume us and become worry. If we let this happen then we become lost in the multitude of possible futures, instead of remaining here, today, with God who will see us through.
“Today’s trouble is enough for today.” In the midst of this pandemic we have a lot to be aware of on a day today basis; do we have a mask and are we wearing it, are we washing our hands and staying physically distanced? All of these practices are meant to keep us and others safe, but they aren’t yet habits for us, so they require extra attention to make sure we are doing our best for the health of everyone today.
So as we continue living through the pandemic, let us keep Jesus’s teachings close to heart. While some planning is needed for the safety and ministry of our congregation, it does not serve any of us well, and indeed distracts us from God’s provision and care when we let our preparation turn to worry.