Worry, Jesus quite rightly identifies is toxic and ineffective – worrying does not lengthen life, indeed it may actually shorten it, it certainly limits it. But, worry we might say is endemic in contemporary society, it comes under various names like anxiety or stress, but its pervasive atmosphere in one of the wealthiest nations in the world suggests that the accumulation of wealth does not bring an end to worry.
But to tell us not to worry, surely that is the craziest of teachings. Who can live a life without worry? How does Jesus explain such a commandment?
To worry that our basic needs won’t be met, Jesus argues, is to doubt the essential blessedness and goodness of the creation. It’s not that Jesus asks us to live a life of blind faith, but to recognise that God has created a world in which even the lilies of the field are clothed in splendour. In linking his argument about trusting in God to the created world, Jesus is explicitly referring us to the role of God as Creator; as Creator God has created a world that is good (cf. Genesis) and one that is designed to supply the needs of it inhabitants.
The disciples left their livelihoods to follow Jesus and perhaps we can hear their questions in the background that have provoked Jesus’ teaching: What will we eat tomorrow Jesus, what will we drink? Jesus’ answer to them is that their needs are supplied by the Creator God who has ensured that the world is able to provide for them.
If we trust that life is blessed and good it means that we can turn our focus away from our needs towards the
kingdom of God: ‘strive first for the
and his righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well’. It’s
not that we think that God intervenes all over the place for his people, but
that the natural world is sufficient for us (cf. Matthew 5. 45 – he causes the
sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the
unrighteous). kingdom of God
In accepting this understanding of the world – which is of course not generally accepted these days –our experience can be transformed into an experience of life as gift. Life is given to us by a benevolent Creator who wishes us to be happy and blessed. In spite of what we see of the corruption of the world, it is still blessed by God.
Trusting in God is a daily discipline; it’s so easy to fall back into fear and doubt. There are so many examples that we can use to say but life isn’t good, creation isn’t good, look at this, look at this…. But, our essential task as people who believe in a benevolent Creator God is to trust. As St Paul encourages the Romans: ‘Now hope that is seen is not hope’. We trust in a God that we do not see and we hope for a kingdom that is not yet realised and we work not for our own satisfaction but for the greater goal and prize – the kingdom of God: ‘seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given unto you as well’.
In an age that doubts, that questions, that worries and that fears the simple trust of the believer in goodness is a transforming and miraculous trust. It is the common vocation that we share – take trust out into your world and be a beacon of hope in the places that you inhabit.
For as Julian of Norwich saw in a vision and communicated in her writings:
‘All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well’.