v.33-34 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.
Dear friends in Christ, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada, "Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental illness affecting Canadian adults. The 12 month prevalence for any anxiety disorder is over 12% and one in four Canadians will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime." And no wonder. What with financial stresses ever increasing for families as well as retirees, we often may find ourselves wondering how we are going to make it to the end of the month after the money has all run out. And then there's deadly and debilitating diseases that may strike anyone, anytime, anywhere—especially COVID 19 and the social isolation that has come with it; not to mention Christians facing suffering and death for their faith; plus, the everyday worries we have for our children, parents, friends, acquaintances--those who are sick--those who are dying --it's no wonder we are so stressed!
Add to the fact that even here in North America where we have so much material wealth, but bad things--evil--still strikes--and it doesn't discriminate based upon how big your bank account may be--or how good a family life you may have. We don't know what will happen in the future. Cancer strikes. Bullying happens both at school and the workplace. Pressures mount as our relationships between family and friends are strained because we often say and do bad things to each other—or we disagree about politics or religion. Oh sure, we may try to plan--we try to be prepared--but there's no telling when you may walk out your door and get hit by a bus! And so we are scared. We are scared of the unknown. We are frightened that we will suffer and God will not be there for us. The temptation to sin and despair grabs hold of us.
Into this situation speaks our Lord Jesus. During His great Sermon on the Mount He tells the assembled people, "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?..."
Jesus tells us to trust in the Father to mercifully provide for our every need. Unbelievers may run around like chickens with their heads cut off--searching to and fro for every good thing--but the Christian is called to patiently trust in the good promises of the Father to give us all good things. Place your trust in God--seek first His kingdom and righteousness--and all these things will be added on to you--more will be given to what you have already received at His gracious hand.
However, this is easier said than done. For this goes to the heart of the First Commandment--to have no other gods before Him--but to fear, love, and trust in Him above all things—to do otherwise is to sin against God. Those who perfectly fear, love, and trust in God have no worries--no anxiety--no stress--for they immerse themselves completely in the promises of God for them in Christ Jesus. They trust God absolutely to provide for them in every way--even as He already has in Jesus.
But there's the rub, isn't it? We are sinful and frail human beings. We are constantly at war over ourselves--seeking to be our own God--seeking to be in control. We have a very difficult time giving over all things to the Lord because we just can't find it within our sinful hearts to trust Him as we ought. We would much rather trust in mammon--trust in our bank accounts--trust in our friends--trust in modern medicine—even our political leaders!—anything else than God alone.
But Jesus' words to us are not empty and meaningless. He does not speak to us simply to hear the sound of His own voice. He speaks to us, those of little faith, to comfort us with the absolute love of God that has a depth beyond our human understanding. He who so wondrously feeds the tiniest bird of the air--He who so beautifully clothes the grass of the field (which will only wither and die)--He is the same God who made you--formed you in your mother's womb--and has promised to care for you all the days of your life.
There is sufficient evil each day that plagues us without us worrying at it--picking at it--obsessing over it--which leads us to lose sight of the mercies of God given to us Christ Jesus. Which is precisely what the devil wants. He wants us to focus so much on the misfortune that comes into our lives and affects our friends and families--that we lose hope in Christ--fail to trust in His promises given to us in His Word. Satan tempts us to believe that the great evil in the world is proof that God does not love us--has abandoned us--that the misery and stress we feel so deeply is a result of God's punishment and disfavour. "Look around you!" Satan snidely declares. "Fires burning out of control, continuing riots in cities around the world, hurricanes, wind storms, not to mention COVID! You're all doomed because God hates you and has deserted you!"
But Christ tells us this is not the case. The Father loves you. The Father has promised to provide for you in your every need. His love for you is deeper than the deepest ocean--higher than the tallest mountain. If He cares so much about simple birds and grass--how much more does He personally care for you!
For you see the Father did not send His Son into the world to become a bird or a flower--but He came to take on your human flesh--to carry the burden of your sin upon His own flesh and blood shoulders--and to go to the cross and give up His body and life unto death--all for you. The Father has already provided for all of your eternal needs in the person and work of Jesus Christ who alone has trusted completely in the Father and who now credits His perfect life of fear, love, and trust in the Father--to you--by faith in Him.
Christ Jesus comes to you in the midst of your misery and despair--your anxiety and worry (your sin and death)--and He comes to give you His peace and joy which the world cannot know apart from faith in Christ. A peace rooted firmly and solidly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for the salvation of your eternal souls.
Now you and I might find ourselves wrestling with this from time to time--maybe more often than not. We may seek after God in stressful circumstances wondering, "Where are you God? Where are all those promises and reassurances you have given me? Cause right now I'm having a hard time finding them!" In those times you must look to Christ and His cross. There the love and mercy of the Father is--for you. Poured out in the innocent and holy blood of Jesus that has bought you back from sin and death--from your unbelief and doubt and worry--from your focus on mammon.
The Holy Spirit, working through His established means of grace in Word and Sacrament--comes to you to build up your faith. To lead you to trust in Him to care for you in all times and necessities. He reminds you of the way in which He cared for the widow at Zarephath and her family--even as He also provided for Elijah His servant. Her jar of flour did not run out--nor did her jug of oil become dry. Miraculously, the Lord provided for them all--because of His mercy and love.
The same Lord continues to care for you and provide you with all that you need. In Jesus Christ you have received the full forgiveness of all of your sins and the sure and certain promise of everlasting life and salvation. So that now you have been freed from worry and are enabled to do good with your material resources to all those in need, particularly your brothers and sisters in Christ. For Christ Jesus has overcome all evil--all misfortune--by His bloody cross and passion--and gives you salvation and life. Thanks be to God in Christ Jesus. Amen.