Francis Bourdillon, 1881
"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34
Half our pains and pleasures are drawn from the future. We are pleased with a thing not only when we have it, but while we are looking forward to having it. In the same way, the apprehension of evil, is often more painful than the evil itself. Made as we are with hopes and fears, we cannot but look forward. But in doing so we too often give way to worry.
Our Lord alludes here to this habit of the mind, the habit of anxiously looking forward to the future. "So do not worry about tomorrow," He says. He does not mean that we are to be careless about the future, making no provision for it and exercising no forethought about it. But He means that we are not to worry about it, that we are not to pass our days in a state of continual apprehension as to what is to come.
"Tomorrow" takes in the whole of the future; but the use of this word sets the lesson before us in a striking way. We are not to worry about the future at all; not even about that part of it which is close at hand, the very next day: "Do not worry about tomorrow."
How comforting to be told this by our Lord Himself! Then certainly we need not worry — He Himself forbids it. If we give way to worry — then we are doing what He bids us not do. If we strive against anxious thoughts — then we are following His direction. Thus, what is right and what is happy go together.
"Each day has enough trouble of its own." What does our Lord mean by this? Plainly, that He who provides for today — will provide for tomorrow also. "Your heavenly Father," He says before, "knows that you need all these things." He knows this, not only with regard to today, but with regard to tomorrow too. When tomorrow comes, the eye that is over us now — will be over us still; the same love and care will still be with us.
In ceasing to worry about the morrow — we are not leaving it to chance, but to God. We thus acknowledge Him as the God of tomorrow, as well as of today — and take things in the order which He has marked out. Step by step, day by day — is God's rule for us. We are to live in continual dependence on Him, again and again seeking blessings from His hand, and coming to Him continually as fresh needs arise.
The very title "Father," seems to convey this meaning. The child of an earthly family does not seek to lay up a private store for tomorrow, but is content to trust its parent's care. The father may even be poor and find difficulty in providing daily bread for his children; but the child in general knows little of that, but looks every day for food and all necessary things, not doubting that its parent both can and will supply them.
In the same way would our heavenly Father have us to live day by day in simple trust in Him. There are no difficulties with the Lord of Heaven and earth — His power is as great as His will. If the child of an earthly parent does not worry — then surely the child of God should not worry.
In the very prayer that He gave us, our Lord taught us what to seek and how to feel: "Give us this day our daily bread, give us day by day our daily bread." He bids us ask, not for tomorrow's bread, but for today's. When tomorrow comes — then we may ask afresh. So we should pray, so trust, and so live.
"Each day has enough trouble of its own." Trouble is the cause of worry. Such there is, and such there will be. But it comes day by day, not all at once. Each day's trouble, each day's provision, each day's blessing — by itself. The trouble of each day is enough. We could not bear the troubles of our life, if they all came altogether. Then we would be overwhelmed. But this is not how God sends our troubles.
Let us look back on past troubles; for such we have certainly had, if we have advanced far in life. How did they come? Not all at once, but one by one, with intervals of time and of rest. Coming even so, they tried us greatly — but they would have overwhelmed us, had they come all together. But worry about the future makes them come all together — it heaps tomorrow's troubles upon today's, and thus makes the troubles of today overwhelming. God sends each day such troubles, difficulties, and cares, as He sees fit; and promises withal daily food, daily strength, daily help and comfort. We must not outrun His promises by our worry.
Besides, trouble comes to us for good. Trouble is not really bad, if we receive it aright — and taken as God sends it. For then it is a fatherly chastisement, a loving discipline, part of our Father's wise and gracious training of us for His kingdom. But this benefit is likely to be lost, if we do not take trouble as God sends it, in His order and in His measure. Today's trouble is what is to do us good. If we add tomorrow's to it before tomorrow comes — then the good may be lost; for then we take it in our own measure and order, rather than in God's.
I have spoken of this exhortation as conveying comfort and blessing — and as showing that duty and happiness are linked together. It is indeed a blessing to be told by our Lord Himself not to worry about the future. But in order to take this comfort to ourselves, we must know God as our Father, our reconciled Father in Christ Jesus. Just before the text, our Lord says: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." And a few verses before, "You cannot serve both God and money." We must choose God before all — we must seek first His kingdom and righteousness — we must go to Jesus as our Savior, seek pardon and peace through His precious blood, and become children of God by adoption and grace. Then, and then only — we shall find such words as those of the text to be precious to us.
Yes, precious indeed! For they give us a right to put away worry. "Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." Why should any worry, to whom these words apply? "Your Father knows." Let that be enough for the child of God. What you need today, and what you will need tomorrow — all your needs, for body and for soul — just what is best for you — "your Father knows." And who is your Father? The great God Almighty, the Lord of Heaven and earth. Away with worry then! Away with doubts and fears about tomorrow's troubles, or tomorrow's needs!" Your Father knows." Let that be enough.
But what can they do who know not God as their Father, when anxious thoughts arise? When trouble, loss, want, sorrow, apprehension come — what peace can be theirs? Ah, you have not yet cast the burden of your sins upon your Savior — how can you take to Him any other burden? You have not yet gone to Him for the supply of your greatest need — how then shall you flee to Him for relief when lesser wants press upon you? When will you learn where true safety and happiness are to be found? Not in the vain attempt to serve two masters, not in seeking the world first and God second — but only in the full surrender of your heart to God in Christ. None but the child of God is really happy. None but the child of God is even safe. None but the child of God can truly lay aside worry about the future, and live day by day — trustful, peaceful, and happy.