a biblical reflection, based on Matthew 6.25-33, for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 26, 2015
“…the birds of the air…neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…. the lilies of the field…neither toil nor spin, yet even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.”
Jesus speaks of carefree birds and contented lilies, neither caring about today nor fearing tomorrow and, though doing no work, enjoying sufficient, even sumptuous provisions.
An ideal vision. And unreal.
I’d love to be carefree, but many concerns occupy me daily. I’d love to be content, arriving self-satisfied at each day’s end, but invariably I’ve left undone something I ought to have done. I’d love not to have to provide for myself, but daily I must do this and that, go here and there; hurriedly, sometimes frantically.
Jesus’ pleasant picture arrests my attention on that hopeful hook in my heart called wishful thinking. Wouldn’t it be grand if life was like this? But it isn’t. Life overflows with countless cares and discontents.
Thanksgiving Day. America’s annual national reminder that daily we are to give thanks for life’s blessings. It’s hard, however, to render thanks when the circumstances of our lives and of the world are chaotic and uncertain, when our minds are restless, our hearts, anxious.
Yet Jesus was nailed to a cross. He knows struggle and strife, his own and, paraphrasing the spiritual, “the troubles we’ve seen.” And he says to us: “Do not worry about your life.”
Why? Because worry leads to idolatry; the worship of fake gods, false saviors. Whenever we worry, the things or persons (or both!) we worry about become our chief concerns, verily, our gods to which we offer the “worship” of our focused interest and energy. Gradually, imperceptibly, we come to believe that we’re on our own and that we are our own (only?) providers. Eventually, we ascend our personal pedestal, becoming our own gods, relying greatly (only?) on our wisdom and will.
Then comes a crisis of loss – job, financial well-being, significant relationship, peace of mind, health – that nothing in our storehouse of wisdom and strength of will can resolve or repair; proving again that we are not god.
Jesus, a divine diagnostician, warning us of worry’s hidden danger, idolatry, then offers this prescription: “Strive first for God’s kingdom and righteousness.” As righteousness is right relationship with God, these two things really are one thing. And that’s the point. A cure for care about many things is to care for one thing.
To ask and answer the question – What’s my “one thing”? or What’s my “god”? – is to rest from worry about many things, even more, to recognize the order and peace of life’s meaning, still more, to realize the reason to give thanks.
My “one thing”, my “god” is God as revealed in Jesus. Thus, no matter the circumstance, come whate’er, I can sing this day and, as long as I have breath, I will sing alway, “praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
 It occurs to me that although I don’t want the stress of life, in a peculiar way, I need it. I believe that we are not human doings, but rather human beings, by virtue of our birth, endowed with inherent worth. Nevertheless, some of my sense of my value is rooted in what I do, and not only for myself, but for others who rely on me. Their well-being depends, in part, on my well-doing. What’s at stake, then, is more than my self-respect, but also the integrity and vitality of my relationships.
 The word “worry” is translated from the Greek, merimna, meaning an agitated, down-in-the-bowels discomfort and discontent, usually about matters of chance and circumstance beyond our control.
 Full confession: I know more than a little bit about this, for I am a characterological worrier.
 Words by Thomas Ken, 1674