I woke up at 4am Saturday after a few hours of off-and-on sleep. My bed is a chair that pulls out into a cot just several feet behind my son’s hospital bed. As I laid there, my thoughts raced. Here is my son, unconscious and unable to respond to us, receiving treatment for fungal meningitis. Is he going to beat this infection? If he does, will he ever be the same? Will his brain function return to normal after these seizures and strokes? Will he be able to walk again? How long with this last?
As these questions assaulted my mind, anxiousness crept in. A deep sadness lurked. Despair was knocking at the door and my hand was on the knob.
As these thoughts threatened to win the hour, Jesus’ words from Matthew 6:34 rushed in as a gift from the Holy Spirit, reminding me, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” As I imprisoned every perilous thought that threatened to capsize my heart (2 Corinthians 10:5), the truth of Jesus’ words dropped like an anchor into my soul, stopping me from traveling further into an ocean of despair.
I have pondered this the last several days. Consider a few reflections – for your own adoption and application – from this experience.
God’s Word is daily manna for the believer
We should believe all Scripture, all the time. However, we often believe truths of the Bible without experiential knowledge of those truths. We know Jesus exhorts us not to be anxious, but do we know how to act on it? This is why the Hebrews writer declares Scripture to be “living and active, sharper than any two edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). It is alive. It is working on, and in, us.
Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 6:34 in the first century. He was on a hill between Capernaum and Gennesaret, overlooking the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee (see picture above). Yet, on Saturday, October 28th, 2017, Jesus spoke those words to me. It was as real and true on the 5th floor of the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital as it was on a Galilean hillside. Jesus said to me, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Sufficient for today is its own troubles. Take it a day at a time. Lean on my all-sufficient grace today.” It calmed my soul.
Scripture works like this. Like the manna from Heaven the Lord daily provided His people in the wilderness, He is still providing daily bread to help His people – through the Scriptures. This is why David stored God’s word in his heart (Psalm 119:11). We must read, learn, and keep Scripture. It will give life to you when death and despair are circling you.
Enduring this Earth demands we be New Jerusalem oriented
Kaleb has many health issues. He received a kidney transplant at two years old. He struggles with lung problems. He has chronic anemia. He easily catches viruses and other illnesses because of his immune-suppresent medications. He has endured a lot in thirteen years. Now we face new challenges and uncertainty about what tomorrow holds.
We cannot blindly hope “everything will be okay.” Sometimes it isn’t. It is right and good to desire health and blessing for ourselves and others. It is natural to cling to loved ones, holding on to them as long as we can. But as Christians, we do not cling to this life as if it were all we had. We enjoy and appreciate life as a gift from God, but we long for something more. Trials and pain will always exist due to the Fall. But praise be to God! A future free from sin, sickness, and death awaits us! Jesus Christ has purchased us an inheritance in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-27).
What awaits us is truly better. This is why Paul declares “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Modern Christianity does not emphasize this enough. We cling to Earth and its comforts. We should long for the Earth to come. Having a son with so many medical problems helps me and my wife long for it. Pain has an incredible way of sending your eyes to the City of God. We cannot wait to dwell there with him forever, with no more concerns about health, and with our Savior before our eyes, sing “Worthy is the Lamb!” to the King who purchased and redeemed all of it for us at the cost of his own life.
Trusting God’s sovereignty uproots anxiousness
Matthew 6:34 is the final verse in a section of teaching (Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus tells us not to be anxious. This is not a command given without a how-to. Jesus anchors it in trusting God’s sovereignty. God cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, and He knows every hair on our heads.
How does trusting God’s sovereignty practically play out in our lives? I have never written a movie script, nor directed a movie, yet I am capable of imagining fantastical stories and letting bleak movies of my future play out in my mind. This is how anxiousness is birthed. This is what happened at 4am on Saturday morning when I woke up? I imagined a future – totally fictional – that produced anxiousness and despair. This is why every thought must be taken captive. We are all Oscar-worthy writers and directors of imaginary futures, but the only compensation we receive is worry.
Jesus, in his infinite mercy, interrupts the movie we often play and reminds us that He holds the future. The One who holds tomorrow tells us to trust Him for today. So we cast ourselves upon His mercies for today’s problems. We take today’s manna, set our eyes on things above (Colossians 3:1), and trust our Sovereign Christ.
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