When You Fear the Future
Dr. Jim Denison
A little girl was attending a wedding for the first time. She whispered to her mother, “Why is the bride dressed in white?” Her mother answered, “Because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life.” The child thought about this for a moment and then said, “So why is the groom wearing black?”
Where is your soul wearing black today? There’s plenty to worry about in the news, with SARS, global terrorism, economic concerns. Nonprofits and churches have been especially affected financially. A recent Christianity Today article documented that private donations to colleges and universities dropped last year for the first time in 15 years; the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has experienced a $20 million giving decline and plans to lay off 20% of its staff; World Vision’s budget fell short by $2 million last year. Our own giving is some 10% under budget, causing us to reduce our ministries significantly.
What most worries you about today? What about tomorrow? It’s been said that “Worry is a stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.”
Thomas Kelly, the monk and author: “Over the margins of life comes a whisper, a faint call, a premonition of richer living which we know we are passing by. Strained by the very mad pace of our daily outer burdens, we are further strained by an inward uneasiness, because we have hints that there is a way of life vastly richer and deeper than all this hurried existence, a life of unhurried serenity and peace and power.”
What about tomorrow most worries you today? How do we find God’s “unhurried serenity and peace and power” in the midst of such fear about the future?
Claim the promises of God
Our text begins, “consider the lilies of the field.” “Consider” means to observe well, to learn thoroughly. The “lilies of the field” were flowers ground around Jesus and his followers on this beautiful hillside near the Sea of Galilee.
Note that “they do not labor or spin.” “Labor” means not work but the weariness which it can produce.
Despite the fact that they don’t worry about the future, “Not even Solomon in all his glory was dressed like one of these.” The scarlet anemone was more beautiful than Solomon’s royal robes; the pure white lilies more brilliant than his white garments. The flowers of the field have a beauty bestowed by God which the richest man in history cannot begin to match.
Even “the grass of the field” is similarly blessed, weeds which were grown to be mowed and used for fuel or to thatch roofs. Such grass had only a few days to live, yet God clothes even this part of his creation with a beauty we cannot reproduce. What he does for flowers and grass, he does for us. So remember his blessing, his grace, the provision of our loving Father.
He provides for everything that worries us about tomorrow: “the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (v. 32). God’s word promises, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Jesus taught us, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8).
So trust the provision of God for tomorrow, today. He’s already there. He will care for you. He provides for all who walk in his purpose: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (v. 33). This command means to make God your king. To become his subject. To yield your plans, dreams, ambitions, future, hopes, life to his will and word. To become fully his.
When you make this unconditional surrender to him, you are in position to receive all that he wants by grace to give. Then you can trust the provision of God for tomorrow, today.
God’s word to Jacob has encouraged my heart this week: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go … I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you” (Genesis 28:15). The Psalmist was assured: “…he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4); “You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great” (Psalm 18:35). The Lord assures his people: “…I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isaiah 46:4).
God provides for tomorrow, whenever we walk in his purpose today. This is his clear and consistent promise. Claim it this morning.
Consider the provision of God
But why should you have such faith? Your fears are real, your worries substantial. Tomorrow is a very real problem. So consider all the ways God has provided for you already.
I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s, A Short History of Nearly Everything. Here he reflects current scientific thought to say, “Consider the fact that for 3.8 billion years, a period of time older than the Earth’s mountains and rivers and oceans, every one of your forebears on both sides has been attractive enough to find a mate, healthy enough to reproduce, and sufficiently blessed by fate and circumstances to live long enough to do so. Not one of your pertinent ancestors was squashed, devoured, drowned, starved, stranded, stuck fast, untimely wounded, or otherwise deflected from its life’s quest of delivering a tiny charge of genetic material to the right partner at the right moment in order to perpetuate the only possible sequence of hereditary combinations that could result—eventually, astoundingly, and all too briefly—in you” (pp. 3-4).
Your Maker has given you a heart which pumps enough blood through your body every 24 hours to fill a railway tanker. Every day it exerts as much effort as it would take to shovel 20 tons of gravel onto a platform as high as your waist.