It feels like a great relief to write those numbers after the year which has just come to a close. Yet, this morning we all still woke up to a world riddled with an abundance of brokenness and sickness and sorrow. Instead of feeling the hope and exhilaration of the New Year, I woke up to worry yet again. However, this morning I also found myself in Matthew 6 and was brought back to the precious words of Jesus.
“‘Consider 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 one moment to his life span by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Observe 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 Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.’”
It’s easy in trying seasons to feel as if our worry contains more validation than our worship. When circumstances are big and complex, I often find myself making God small and simple. I question how God could possibly meet my worry and grant me His peace and care. Matthew 6, serves as a beautiful reminder of the reality of God’s affectionate nature for what He has made. He feeds them. He adorns them. He holds them together by His grace. Then, He says “‘Won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith?’” Evidently, God is not small and God is not simple. He is in fact big and He attends intimately to the needs of His beloved creation. This passage also reminds us that our very existence deems us worthy of God’s attention. The birds and the flowers “don’t labor or spin thread”, yet they are given perfect care. In the same way, we do not have to earn the affection of our Father; He wants to give us what we need. He wants to give us hope amidst our worry; we need only be still as the grass in the field. This is not to say that our circumstances are not real and not painful. In His humanity, Jesus is well aware of the deep pains and challenges of the world. Here, He is reminding us that worry cannot change our circumstances and will only bring us farther from the full life which He has made possible through His own blood. For, if we trusted fully in God’s good and perfect plans for us, then our present worries could find rest at last.
“‘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.’”
The only condition for this radical removal of worry is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. For it is when we seek Him first that our minds begin to see things from a Heavenly perspective, instead of a worldly perspective. When we look to Him before we look to our worries, we are choosing faith over fear, trusting fully in God’s perfect provision. May we cling tightly to the words of the apostle Paul who reminds us that true peace comes through faithful communion with Christ Jesus.
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding , will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
When I read these words, I can’t help but lament how many times I have failed to go to God first in this past year. When worries arise I want to be the one to get rid of them, usually this takes place in the form of distraction which always fails in the end. Yet, time and time again I choose to seek myself and my righteousness before I seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. In 2021, I pray that I may learn to follow the example which creation has set before us. May we all be reminded by the morning songs of the birds and music of the grasshoppers in the night that all creation is being held by the tender hand of God. May we trust fully in His sustaining nature, with full confidence that God is indeed bigger and more complex than we could ever dare to comprehend. May we, like the birds, learn to lean upon God first in all things and choose to worship instead of worry every morning.