(This is the first chapter in the section “God Speaks: On Money and Possessions”.)
“Fear is nurtured by ignorance” (103). Ignorance of God especially. But the manna story helps inform ignorant people about God. “The manna story provides the basic melody for the Bible’s song about God’s ways with fearful, anxious people” (104). Jesus’ famous words in the Sermon on the Mount build upon this.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And 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 oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
I’ve memorized this passage (though it’s rusty in my mind now). Memorizing it didn’t fix my worrying. Consider Welch’s words on this:
Chronic worriers like myself have probably memorized much of it. Memorizing certainly can be useful, but the purpose of memorizing Scripture is to keep the passage hand so that we can meditate on it even when a Bible is not available (111).
Welch then outlines some other ways to meditate on a passage, especially talking, writing, or praying through it. This whole chapter centers on this passage in these observations:
1. Jesus speaks to you. In a very personal way, Jesus speaks to the worried heart (like mine). He assumes that worry exists in human experience. But he does not leave us there.
2. Jesus speaks persuasively. He argues and tries to convince us not to worry.
*”What is important?” The kingdom overshadows our worries (or it ought to). This is related primarily to material worries. Personally, I tend to worry more (though not exclusively) about more ethereal or relational things. Still, this speaks to my worried heart, because even these are bound to earthly matters. The kingdom should overshadow the priority of the things I worry about.
*”Your Father cares for the needs of the birds.” He is compassionate. He cares about the birds, how much more for his children? Exactly.
*”You are more important than the birds.”
*”He clothes non-human creation in beauty. He will certainly do the same and more for you.” We serve an extravagant King– “This is good news for fearful people” (108). I tend to doubt the extravagance of God. In some ways this stems from my theology in a legitimate way — I know that God does not eliminate difficulty for his children. True. However, God just as much is extravagant with his children.
*”O you of little faith.”
Given such generosity, will we trust him? That’s the obvious question after God reveals himself to fearful people. Whose kingdom are you seeking? Do you trust the King who is also your Father? Dangers abound, and life is comprised of hourly risks, but the real issue behind worry is that of spiritual allegiance (109).
Ok, so here’s where it’s gets me. In fact, you can read all about this whole kind of idea, which I deal talk about here.
*”Seek first his kingdom.” This book is really good. Even as I review this chapter now to write this reflection, it ministers to me. Dr. Welch, if you happen ever to read this, “Thank you.” I am sitting here, writing this, and still my heart is heavy with a nagging sense of worry. It’s specific, but general. Because if it wasn’t whatever it is, it would be something else. And I just read this sentence, which is, almost exactly, what I was thinking: “All that’s left to do is trust God. But that just happens to be the hardest thing for a human being to do” (110). What is the cure?
The cure is not to simply know what the problem is. The cure is to know the One we are called to trust. Keeping looking at the triune God and how he has revealed himself throughout history. Don’t spend time focusing on your wavering allegiances (110).
That quote, right there, says it. Seek the King, and you seek the kingdom. Look at God, and you will trust in him. I have been reading through a book on the atonement, and it has been good for my soul. To look at Jesus’ perfect work. I need that, constantly, but how often I look into myself or even at my wife for comfort.
*”Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow.”