Read: Matthew 6:25–34
At first, it didn’t seem real. Spring break was still going on, and no school work was in sight. But the reality of it all began to set in when online classes started and the warm weather of South Carolina kept on coming. I would not be going back to the Windy City any time soon.
You know that saying that goes, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone”? That is ringing true for me right now. Now that I have had such a long break from being at school, I’m realizing how little time I have left at college. When we return to college in the fall (Lord willing), I’ll be a senior, and after that . . . who knows. Already I miss the dorms, the community, chapel, my professors, and our school’s weird traditions like breakfast at night and soup day. I miss spending time with my friends the most. Although, I am very thankful for technology that gives us the ability to stay connected, it still hurts to be apart.
Thinking about all of this, I am reminded of Matthew 6:25–34, where Jesus tells His disciples to not be anxious about anything. He closes the end of His teaching with, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (v. 34). I used to gloss over this verse, but right now that strange phrase really strikes true. Don’t get me wrong, if Jesus hadn’t said this we would totally not take tomorrow seriously, because that’s just plain bad advice. Try not worrying about tomorrow during exams, or when you can’t afford rent, or when someone you love is sick. Isn’t it irresponsible not to worry about tomorrow?
Jesus isn’t offering what we’d call practical advice. This isn’t your easy-going Proverbs kind of passage—what Jesus is saying is a hard pill for us to swallow. He’s talking about a completely different way of living, thinking, and acting. Jesus is describing the Kingdom of Heaven (elsewhere Kingdom of God). When you read this phrase in the Bible, Jesus isn’t talking about harps and clouds. He is talking about how we are to live here on earth. Notice that wherever Jesus goes the Kingdom goes also (Matt. 4:17, 10:5–7, 12:28). Wherever He goes, He is healing and correcting the broken world around Him. Jesus invites us to be like Him and to experience the Kingdom of God, now and into eternity. We are to live our lives, relying on God’s goodness and power. When you are living life as a member of God’s Kingdom, you’re not a part of the world anymore, you’re in God’s space. Even while you continue to live physically wherever God has placed you, you are living in the Kingdom as you abide in Jesus. Just like the vine and branches described in John 15, when we abide we don’t have to worry about making fruit for ourselves. Instead, it comes naturally from being connected to God and living out of His power. It’s in this context Jesus says, in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
I know. This may be a hard pill to swallow, especially now, in the midst of this pandemic. But God is not a liar. He is faithful and will fulfill His promises to us who share His purposes (Rom. 8:28). Right now, almost all we are able to do is live for today and have faith. God shows His care for the birds and the flowers, and He says, “How much more will I care for you?” (Matt. 6:26). God is taking care of my needs in ways I wouldn’t have known without this crisis. He is caring for my worries, and my questioning heart. I know that not every time I have a problem it will get solved or go away. Things may not get any easier, but I know that God is constant through it all, and I can rest in that truth.
Take a moment to reflect on this idea of the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew. There are times (like this!) when our own little kingdoms are flipped upside-down. But this is the perfect opportunity for God to make us aware of His life-giving, eternal Kingdom. Think of practical ways you can obey Christ during this time. Maybe read Matthew 5–7 and listen to the Lord’s commandments. This might be a wake up call for us all to passionately seek first His Kingdom and to find greater joy and life there than anywhere else our plans might have taken us.
Author’s Note on Photograph: I was thinking about the passage in Matthew where Jesus teaches on worry and the Kingdom of God, and how God takes care of the flowers. He creates them, makes them grow, and provides for them like a loving gardener. If He cares for them this much, then how much more will He care for me? These flowers are across the street from my mom’s house in South Carolina where I am staying, and they are a constant reminder of God’s goodness to me.