“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”—Matthew 6:34
These are the words of Jesus, the Son of God. Apart from the obvious emphasis on the phrases “do not worry about tomorrow”, consider the implications of the phrase, “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The word rendered “trouble” in the original language means “evil, trouble, labor, misfortune.” It is a broad word. Essentially, it refers to the underlying principle of evil inherent in this world. Jesus here acknowledges the fact that we live in a world marked by trouble… inherent evil, manifest about us everyday. Interestingly enough. in His high priestly prayer, found in John 17, He does not pray that his followers be removed from this world or that they would be immune from such inherent evil. In fact, Jesus told his followers that they would suffer greatly as a result of following Him, even unto death. Trouble, is in fact, a part of this worldly experience. It is the norm, not an aberration. It is to be expected. We here in the West, Europe and North America, are remarkably spoiled to the point where we expect normal to be a day without trouble. So when trouble comes to us we are perhaps more vulnerable to disappointment, discouragement, even depression.
Now in my eighth decade I am wearied by these days of trouble. I’m pretty sure I am not alone. I no longer watch or listen to the news. Too troubling. Who doesn’t know someone with cancer? What of the homeless problem that seemingly has no solution, in part because the homeless are not really the homeless, they are people. And while they may share the condition of being without a home, in the usual sense of the word, each person has their own unique story. There is no single factor that has led them to their low estate. Neither is there a one-size-fits-all remedy. Throwing money at it or them will not make it go away. The war across the pond drags on taking with it the lives and livelihood of millions who had no say, no choice regarding the war and its likely effect. The U.S. economy is on the brink. One report, over a month ago, stated that there were 146 regional banks on the brink of collapse across the country. Yet the Fed chairman repeatedly states that our financial system is sound and there is no reason for concern. Pardon me while I gag. Does anybody believe anything the government says these days? Sorry, but lie to me once shame on you, lie to me as a practice and I still believe you, shame on me. In truth, what we considered normal prior to the pandemic is not likely to return.
There are days, even something more like periods or phases, when I am simply overwhelmed by the evil of our day. It feels like we are losing not only the battle, the struggle of the day, but the war. Some days the cumulative effect just catches up with me and all it takes is evil in seemingly small portion to undo me. Right now I am in such a season.
This week I was privileged to go on a fishing trip with two close friends I have known since high school. While walking along the shoreline of Lake Shasta I spied a killdeer. A beautiful bird very common where I grew up. Their nests are really no nests at all, simply a depression in the soil. The mama Killdeer relies on a hyper sense of alertness and a broken wing act to lure danger away from her precious eggs. Immediately upon spying me she went into her act. I didn’t want to disturb her so I just walked on. Later, I came back saw the nest and two speckled eggs. Killdeer chicks are like baby quail. They are born running. Little fuzz balls whose legs move so fast they are but a blur. I was hoping I might get to see them during the week of our stay. But, it was not to happen. I came back the next day and the Killdeer mama was nowhere to be found, neither were the eggs. There were no shell fragments, evidence of a hatch. The eggs were just gone. Likely some animal had found the nest and did not fall for the Killdeer’s broken wing act. Whatever it was, in a moment, that animal took what mama Killdeer had birthed, protected, sat on for days while she helplessly stood by. I wondered what she was thinking as the life of her prospective brood was stolen from her and all her hard work was brought to naught. It’s just a bird and the food chain lives on, but I found it sad all the same. I felt bad for mama Killdeer.
Just as I returned to our little town I received a text from my wife advising me that a bear had just broken into our chicken run and killed three of our four chickens, in broad daylight. They were just chickens, but they were our chickens. They had names. They had unique personalities. Now in a moment they were ripped apart and left dead by a bear, a yearling bear which was probably recently cut loose by mama bear and he was starving. He had to be desperate to enter our backyard and break into the chicken run in broad daylight. When interrupted he readily fled, but not before visiting trouble upon our birds and our family. It was not the bear’s fault. It was not the chicken’s fault. It was not our fault. We only let the chickens out in that part of the run during the day and we have not seen a bear on our property in the 26 years we have lived here. All of that to say that we were shocked. It is the way of the world. Animals kill and eat other animals. Yet, is it not sad?
So now what? What did Jesus say to do in response to the inherent evil of our day? Note, He did not say deny, disregard, and/or pretend that there is no evil. He didn’t say don’t grieve. He didn’t say put on a happy face. It is unfortunate that some religious types tend to simply quote a verse or two at such times. Verses like, “Give thanks in everything.” Or, “This is a day the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Fair enough, but if one of our children dies in a car accident are we really expected to give thanks? Go ahead, I’m not. And, yes, today I live and move and have my being in Him and I am thankful of the opportunity to live one more day. But, if you live in the Ukraine and are being slammed by guided missiles are you really expected to rejoice? Worse, if those same folk get news that their teenage son was killed on the front lines are they really expected to give thanks and/or rejoice? Please. Jesus did not say to rejoice in the evil inherent in the day. Jesus didn’t say give thanks for the evil inherent in our world. So much for “in everything give thanks”. So what then?
One of the attributes of God I find most endearing is His propensity to speak through anything. The Psalmist says He can make the rocks sing. Case in point, I have been reading a book on golf. I doubt God thinks golf is a particularly spiritual enterprise, yet we who are spiritual make every exercise spiritual. According to the author, the very first principle of playing golf better is to stay in the present. One cannot be thinking about the last duffed shot or even the birdie on the last hole. One cannot allow oneself to think of what the score will likely be at the end of 18 holes, whether good or bad. One must stay in the moment and not worry about the next hole or even the next shot. Isn’t that what Jesus said? He taught His followers to stay in the present… today. Jesus taught, in what is known as the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day… .” The children of Israel had to go gather manna everyday, except for the sabbath, and were not allowed to gather more than the family could eat in a single day, except for the day before the sabbath. They were not allowed to insure against tomorrow’s hunger. Why? They were being trained to lean on the Lord everyday and in every way. Where they were going they would need to do so in order to survive and thrive.
So, I am reminded yet again… one day at a time. One minute at a time. One moment at a time. One more step in my journey. I can do that. You can do that. Just breathe. The sun will come up tomorrow, but maybe not for me so I need to live for today. Love for today. Live to love. Today does have enough trouble of its own, but it also presents opportunities of its own. Go do something for someone… I shall.