It would seem that in these words—”Do not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34)—there is an exception to the rule; for is it not most improvident not to think about the future and prepare for it? This principle applied literally would mean the end of provident societies and insurance corporations. Bankers and brokers would go out of business. In this hard and brittle world one must look to the future, for the man who retires without having prepared for it will find that God is on the side of the provident.
We know that our Lord did not ignore the principle of preparing for the future, for His whole ministry was related to it. He urged salvation in the present to determine where we will spend eternity. On the cross He thought of His mother’s future, and committed her to the care of John.
Deep in our Lord’s injunction is advice against undue anxiety and worry. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount was advocating a living trust in the present that would make the future secure.
Worry is imagination run wild! We allow our thoughts to anticipate the worst, to build in our minds fearful images and situations which rarely come to reality. We cross our bridges before we come to them. We must be prepared to accept the worst if it comes, but must calmly devote all the thought and energy possible to improving the worst as it is now. If we reconcile ourselves to the worst we often find the worst never comes. Tomorrow will depend upon what we are today.
Victories can be won or lost in the mind. We rush to the chemist for tranquilizers when all we need is a right mental adjustment to life. Our Lord refused the sponge saturated with an appeaser on that day, showing that He would not die drugged. There is no external answer to the internal state of mind with which we face our troubles and tragedies.
When tire manufacturers found solid tires were cut to pieces by flinty roads, they invented pneumatic tires which absorbed the shocks of the roads. We need to learn that spiritual art which helps us to bend to resistant forces. The prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr is worth saying every day:
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man