(From the Gospel of Matthew 6:24-34)
OK tell the truth, how many of us hear these words and say: Are you kidding Jesus - don’t worry?!
We look up to heaven and ask Jesus:
• Have you read a newspaper lately or watch the evening news?!
• Have you seen my relatives?
• Do you know how hard it is to make a living right now?
• My health issues make not worrying about tomorrow a big challenge.
My guess is we can all come up with our list of the things we’ve worried about within the past few weeks. God knows the world seems a mess right now.
So what is Jesus talking about “don’t worry about tomorrow.”
The truth just might be he is sharing with us a remarkable formula for happiness.
He is saying we have a choice. He says we can’t serve two masters - worry and joy - worry and happiness. You can’t obsess over the future and your material needs, and joyfully and gratefully embrace the gifts God gives us in each moment. You’ve got to choose.
Jesus is telling us in these simple sayings that all our anxiety is about the next day. It’s about what tomorrow will bring. And that won’t make us happy. Jesus is telling us we must get free of the next day, let it look after itself. If you free yourself from worrying about whatever troubles the next day holds and address each day as it comes – calmly - in a spirit of thanksgiving; you will become free of the troubles that belong to the next day.
Jesus in a simple way is saying something really important:
That ... worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow's troubles; it takes away today’s peace.
Jesus is telling us to give ourselves to the task of today, to live in the present moment. He is saying if you live in the moment and find the best you can in it, you’ll be less stressed. You’ll be happier.
To that, we might say well, what about the trials? What do we do when they come?
My wife Linda is one of those rare people who actually lives out this teaching. She doesn’t worry. “God will take care of it” is her favorite saying, or "pray, hope and don’t worry." Another of her favorite sayings gives you insight on this question of what you do when the trails hit. She says: "Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning to dance in the rain."
We have a choice. We can either spend our days worrying, making worry our God. Worrying about the future, worrying about money making that the focus of our life. Or, we can spend our days focused on God’s gift of the present moment, living in a place of thanksgiving and gratitude for the moment at hand. Jesus says to us today live in the moment. Life is a banquet. And the tragedy is that most people are starving to death.
There's a story about some people who were drifting on a raft off the coast of Brazil perishing from thirst. They had no idea that the water they were floating on was fresh water. The river was coming out into the sea with such force that it went out for a couple of miles, so they had fresh water right there where they were. But they had no idea. That is what Jesus is talking about. In the same way, we're surrounded with joy, with happiness, with love. Yet we are so focused on tomorrow most people don’t see it.
When Jesus says to us: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself.” He is calling us to live in the present moment. We seek God’s kingdom by being aware of God’s presence all around us every moment just like that fresh water surrounding the boat, unseeable but there and lifesaving!
Everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to this truth is a measure of our gratefulness, and gratefulness is a measure of our aliveness. Protestant theologian Karl Barth said: “Joy is the simplest form of gratitude,”
The way to let go of worry and be happy, the way to not worry about tomorrow is to be aware of the action of God - the Kingdom of God - each day in our life and live every day in gratitude.
That is the way to be happy. It’s just that simple.