Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? A reflection from John W Martens of the University of St Thomas.
- By John W Martens, America magazine.
When Jesus instructs us, 'Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear,' it is something that I struggle to hear.
And when Jesus tells us to 'consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these,' I worry about how I am supposed to put these spiritual insights into action.
Is it really better to live a hand-to-mouth, day-to-day existence than store away money in a 401(k) retirement plan? Exactly and in what sense do wild birds and lilies show us how to live?
Obviously, birds and lilies do not teach us literally how to live human lives.
The birds and flowers are not models to imitate, but they are an example to us. If God pours care on wild birds and flowers, how much more does God care for us!
If God cares so much for birds and flowers, how much more does God care for you, a human being, created in the image of God?
It is this faith in God's care that allows us to live free, or at least struggle to live free of anxiety.
Isaiah speaks of God as a mother who cannot 'forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb' (49:15). Maternal love is often the most powerful love—unconditional, lavish and limitless—that one has ever experienced.
But, the prophet says, even if you can imagine mothers forgetting their children, God says, 'yet I will not forget you.'
God is presented here as the mother who always and without fail cares for our welfare.
Because of this love, we are encouraged to cut our entanglements with and dependence upon material possessions, for reliance on material goods leads us to seek security in them and not in God. Possessions can be lost, destroyed and stolen. They do not last forever.
As Jesus says, 'You cannot serve God and wealth.' We need to decide who or what is our master.
That does not mean, however, that we should not act prudently and not plan for the future. Jesus' teachings are not about being indifferent to the practicalities of life, but about trusting God above all things.
For those of us who struggle most with anxiety, We can start trusting in God today and dealing with each problem one day at a time.
Read full reflection: My Anxious Heart (America)