That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
What is the opposite of faith? It’s doubt, right? Wrong. The opposite of faith is worry, a preoccupation with future events that may or may not occur. Worry is something we make up in our head in response to an imagined threat.
Mark Twain summed it up perfectly, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
And let’s be honest, all of us struggle with worry on some level. As a culture, we’re plagued with it.
The signs are everywhere: us vs them thinking, the need for certainty and security, cynicism, an increased focus on “getting mine,” insecurity and shame.
And here’s the thing with worry. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. What originates in your mind becomes reality in time. When you hyper-focus on negative outcomes, you often become blind to anything that doesn’t confirm your bias.
Do you see why this is the antithesis of faith?
Faith doesn’t dismiss evils and threats. Faith, in fact, is fully aware of the danger and fragility of this life but chooses to give the “what ifs” to God and rest in what is. Faith doesn’t seek control over tomorrow but rests in the sufficiency of God’s goodness and grace today.
At the intersection of faith and worry is the question, “Can God be trusted?” If I rest in today, will God be enough tomorrow?
In Exodus 16, the Israelites were faced with this question? After hearing their complaints about food, God agreed to give them quail every evening and manna every morning. But there was a catch. Each family could only take what they needed. And they couldn’t store any of it for the next day.
They had to trust God, in other words. They stood at the intersection of faith and worry with the question “Can God be trusted?” Do I grab enough manna for today or do I grab some extra in case God doesn’t show tomorrow?
Exodus 16:21 explains what happens next.
“But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them. Moses was very angry with them.”
I won’t lie. I probably would have grabbed extra. I mean, just yesterday, I was starving. And today, an abundance of quail and manna? Yeah, I’m takin’ for tomorrow too, or at least until God proves he can be trusted.
The dilemma for the Israelites is our dilemma today: will we grab enough manna for today?
Will we place tomorrow completely, wholeheartedly, in God’s hands?
Like manna, grace can’t be stored up for tomorrow. Tomorrow’s “what ifs” are maggots.
Advent invites us to a life beyond worry. It calls us to look at the manger and place our full trust in a God who He embodies truth.
If God is with us, why would he not provide for us?
So, today, every day, we have a choice. Maggots or manna? Worry or faith? Scarcity or contentment? Tomorrow’s “what ifs” or today’s realities? God will provide or I must provide? Manna sits in front of us, how much will we take today?
Make a list of tomorrow’s worries and today’s concerns. When you’re finished, pray for God to give you strength to leave tomorrow’s worries behind and only embrace today’s concerns.
Father, your grace is sufficient for today. This is your promise. Allow your truth to overcome any temptation to focus on tomorrow’s “what ifs.” Thank you for your presence. You will never leave me or forsake me. “God with us” is proof you always provide. I love you. Amen.
Frank is lead writer and editor for the blog at Bayside church. He is also a husband, father and Jesus-follower. Occasionally he plays golf. Often he drinks coffee.