Have you noticed that during these days of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the birds continue to sweetly sing their praises to the King of kings? The spring flowers burst into bloom displaying their grandeur. The flock of 5 geese continue to navigate their way over the roof of my home in perfect formation toward their destination. And, scampering up the tall pine tree, the squirrel is still being harrassed by the cat in a seemingly playful game of chase. Life goes on as normal and yet our lives have drastically taken a turn in a direction that we would have never gone on our own!
Do you have feelings of anxiousness as you see people are donned in a new apparel of mask and gloves? The stock market teeters like a see-saw. The grocery stores are still running bare. When you HAVE to get out, you suit up like a surgeon going into surgery, and pray that as you dodge people in the aisles, that you stay safe. It's a new scary time for us. My family chuckled when we realized that we are all out of work except my niece and her new husband (the youngest couple in our family) and teased them about all of us having to be cared for by them! Actually, it was a startling realization and not funny at all, that there are no certainties that any of us would have jobs when we get back to normal...if that would ever happen. I'm sure that many of you reading this can relate to the feelings of an anxious heart.
Today, our friend Margaret Kemp shares a personal story and provides some encouragement for us and how to deal with our nervous energy and anxiety.
Please welcome Margaret as we "look at the birds of the air!"
Praying for all of our readers,
26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they?
27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Matthew 6:26-28 (ESV)
I felt my heart rate accelerate. My jaw clenched. My muscles tightened. My body and mind were suddenly on alert: Stressful situation approaching!
My husband and I were discussing our finances in view of the sudden upheaval in the world’s economy. I’d tried to ignore graphs of the stock market jumping up and down like a kid on a trampoline. But as my husband and I talked, my heart rate was bouncing up, too.
The world is in a crisis unlike any I’d experienced in my lifetime. We don’t know what the future holds. What if we make the wrong decision?
If I let my imagination run wild, I could envision us in a Depression Era scene, empty bowls in hand, shuffling in line to get our daily ration at a soup kitchen.
Then I had to take a deep breath and remember where our hope is anchored. It’s not in our bank accounts, our jobs, or the economy. Our hope is in God…the very same God who’s provided for us all along, through past upheavals, recessions, and natural disasters.
In Matthew Chapter 6, we read Jesus’s wonderful illustration of how God cares for the lilies and the birds. It’s important to note this comes right after Jesus says not to lay up treasures on earth, and that we can’t serve both God and money. Jesus tells us to focus on the important things; God will provide for our needs.
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying,
‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be added to you.
After those lovely, reassuring words about taking care of the lilies and the birds, Jesus says this:
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Matthew 6:34 (ESV)
“Each day has enough trouble of its own.” That’s a discouraging statement. I looked it up in the Greek, and it sounded even worse. Trouble is “kakia,” which is also translated “evil,” “malice,” or “wickedness.” So much for my vision of lilies blooming and birds singing.
But then, life isn’t always birds and flowers, is it? Many people are now in the middle of painful, desperate situations. But we don’t need to compound our difficulties by worrying about tomorrow.
The Living Bible paraphrases the words of Jesus this way:
“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow.
God will take care of your tomorrow too.
Live one day at a time."
Matthew 6:34 (TLB)
God will give believers the strength to endure whatever comes our way today. Live one day at a time.
One of my heroes of faith is Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian whose family hid Jews in their home during WWII. She and her family were eventually arrested, and Corrie and her sister were sent to a concentration camp. Corrie survived and wrote of her experience in a book called The Hiding Place. In the book, she recounts an incident from her childhood when she was afraid that her father would die.
“Father sat down on the edge of the narrow bed.
"Corrie," he began gently, "when you and I go to Amsterdam-when do I give you your ticket?" I sniffed a few times, considering this. "Why, just before we get on the train." "Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need-just in time.” ~Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place
It's been years since I read the book, but I’ve never forgotten that story. When tomorrow comes, God will give us grace for tomorrow’s trials, but not before.
In the meantime, we make the best decisions with the information we have today, but we don’t fret. We can take our nervous energy and redirect it into positive things, like seeking God and doing our part to advance His kingdom.
Write that letter. Make that phone call. Say those encouraging words. Help where we can. Be faithful to fulfill the responsibilities we have today.
Remember God’s tender care for us in the past---then tell others what he’s done.
He’s been faithful in the past. He’ll provide for us in the future.
I just finished reading A Journey of Faith and Collection of Treasured Memories, written by Cathi Popp Smith, a member of our own church body. The book reminded me that God is actively involved in the lives of individuals today.
What about you? Instead of worrying about tomorrow, what can you do today to draw closer to God?
Look at your sphere of influence. What can you do today to make a difference?
I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I know God’s in control.
And I know I have today.
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