Courage Through Prayer, Part I
We have come to a unique and unprecedented moment in our history. The situation we face is something most people have not experienced or even imagined. It’s tempting to allow ourselves to feel despair as anxiety levels elevate. We are worried about ourselves and people we love.
But what if this is the Church’s moment to shine? What if we’ve been preparing for this all our lives? What if what feels like a disaster is actually an amazing opportunity?
Today’s devotional is from the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is speaking a word of encouragement to people who were worried.
Scripture: Matthew 6:25-34
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
We usually think of avoiding worry as falling under the category of “easier said than done.” But maybe it’s actually the opposite. Worry is one of the things that we try to talk ourselves out of without much success, but that when we practice healthy habits, we can in fact overcome it with God’s help. Notice what Jesus teaches here about how to overcome worry:
First …“Look at the birds of the air” (v. 26). Notice the birds! They don’t work for food. They don’t plant gardens or raise livestock or store supplies in barns. And yet the Heavenly Father feeds them. We have a hard time accepting this teaching, because we understand it takes hard work to earn a living.
And yet the point is that God provides. Sometimes God provides a paycheck. Sometimes God provides a gift from a neighbor. Either way we are fed. And we can count on God, because as much as God loves the birds of the air, humans are even more valuable.
Second …”Don’t say, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” (v. 31). We are so tempted to despair in difficult situations. As we shared in the sermon two Sundays ago, we are capable of creating endless lists of ‘What If’s’ … What if I lose my job? What if someone I love gets sick? What if life never returns to normal?
But Jesus’ message is clearly, “cut it out!” Don’t say those things and feed the fear. Don’t dwell on the negative possibilities. “The pagans run after these things.” These are the concerns of people without faith, assuming this will make them happy. But God knows what we need.
Third …”Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (v. 33). The first priority of our hearts and minds should be God’s kingdom, and his righteousness. Pursue the things of God first. Rather than worrying about having what you need, instead desire God first, and everything else will fall into place. All these things – food, clothing, even life itself! – will be given to you as well. God always provides for his children.
Heavenly Father, you have dressed the flowers of the field and the birds of the air in all their splendor. You made each one, love each one, and call each one by name. So we can only imagine how much more you love us, the children who bear your image. Therefore, give us the courage to trust you, knowing that are always at work for our good. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.