If you’ve spent any time recently watching the news, reading a newspaper, or perusing your choice of online news or social media, you’re probably aware that there’s a lot going on in the world right now that can cause us to be anxious. The threat of war, rampant injustice, poverty, community decline, economic instability – the list of anxiety-inducing events could go on indefinitely! Even on the more local level, in our own spiritual lives and families, we can face daily difficulties and challenges that could disrupt the peace in our hearts and threaten to take our eyes off of the King of Peace – Jesus Christ. Much like the Apostles in the boat during the storm on the sea of Galilee, we might be tempted to cry aloud to Christ, “Jesus, don’t you care that we are perishing!” (Mark 4:38).
Anxiety can be an oppressive force, it causes us to fret about what’s coming next, about how we will get through tomorrow – it is a leak in time, which robs us of today, and exposes us to the ghosts and specters of what might or might not be. Oddly enough, when the object of our anxiety is finally realized, we are almost always relieved, because what we were worried about most often turns out to be not nearly as bad as the anxiety itself! Anxiety causes us to fret about what we’ll wear, or how others will judge us, all while humorously forgetting that we are already alive, today! Thankfully, Jesus spoke directly to the source of anxiety; in the Gospel of Matthew we hear, “Why are you anxious about clothing? 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 arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you?” (Matthew 6:28-30).
The way Jesus speaks about trust, as a remedy and response to anxiety, seems reckless, almost mad, without foresight, or long-range planning. A time without anxiety, ruled entirely by God, not by human worries, seems almost impossible – it’s why it can be so hard for us to thoughtfully read the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21). If I can’t master the future, how can I possibly live comfortably now? To live in time, whether we like it or not, is to be exposed to the uncertainty of the future – either anxiously, which means that God has no care for us and has no rule, or trustfully, entrusting the future to God’s kingship. What Jesus promises us is not a future without hardship, but rather that he would lift the weight and responsibility of the future from our shoulders. The future, much like the past and the present, is God’s domain. Let the future, and all the anxiety that it holds, come! What God asks of us in the passage from Matthew, which sounds a little crazy, is to let go. Let go of our desire to look for a method to master the future and subdue its uncertainty, but let go and trust God’s rule.
Time belongs to God, who is the Lord and King of the Universe. The right way for us to face the specter of uncertainty is something so simple that we tend to dismiss it – trust God, about tomorrow, about today, from moment to moment, because time is under God’s rule, not ours. We are not our own, but God’s. Where God rules, anxiety cannot. Jesus desires us to give over to him all of those things that threaten his rule in our lives, whether they originate from the evening news or the dinner table. Be freed from uncertainty, and trust in Jesus, who is the one who promised that, “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Time, and time again, Jesus arises among the storms of life and speaks, “peace, be still.” Jesus, the Way and the Truth and the Life, give us a life entrusted entirely to you, today.