Daily Trouble

Anxiety is a pervasive problem according to the testimony of Scripture. In Matthew 6 Jesus probes the issue. Birds, grass, and flowers are utilized as illustrations to demonstrate the uselessness of anxiety. Anxiety yields nothing and yet costs so much. Jesus tells us that anxiety is so worthless because it adds hypothetical trouble to the real trouble of today. Look at this text, which serves as a summary to this entire unit of teaching. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt 6:34).

Tomorrow does not merit our anxiety today. The troubles of tomorrow need to be experienced tomorrow. This is not easy, hence the need for instructions and imperatives. The text is quite clear on what today holds. Trouble is to be expected, it is practically guaranteed. The wisdom in this passage is two-fold. First, it equips us with biblical realism. Along with our daily bread we expect our daily trouble. This trouble points us to our need for daily grace and mercy (a theme to be covered on the next post). Second, it advises us of the folly of bringing tomorrow’s trouble into today. The wise path is to engage today and leave tomorrow to itself. The problems we face today are “sufficient” for us. We need no trouble beyond our daily trouble.

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7 comments

  1. The most meaningful statement in this to me is the ‘hypothetical trouble’ of tomorrow. We are so good at imagining all the bad things that MIGHT happen. In fact, they almost always DON’T happen, yet we suffer the anxiety anyway.

    One of my favorite quotes about this topic is from D. James Kennedy, who said: Worry is the interest we pay on a debt we will likely never owe. In other words, we needlessly pay. If you thought your car was going to break down, would you go down to the bank – before it did – and pay them interest on a multi-thousand dollar loan you think you may need in the future? Of course not. But we’ll worry. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t change my oil, or get that bald tire replaced. That’s routine maintenance, not worry.

    Along these same lines are the worries material possessions bring. The more we own, and the nicer things that we own, the more our anxiety will naturally rise. There are more things to maintain, be concerned about, to repair, to pay for, and to protect. When I’m driving our old car, I almost hope for an accident to total the thing. In a new car, I’m yelling at the kids for spilling something, or scratching something, or parking next to someone. There are many more things that CAN go wrong with the newer vehicle as well. Options that the old one just doesn’t have.

    Troubles will come, and we will deal with them. One way or another. Preferably, with a view towards mature perseverance. But worry is not about real trouble, it’s about imagined trouble.

    1. Rob thanks for the helpful thoughts once again. I really agree that we make life much more difficult for ourselves by anxiety. I like your illustration about routine maintenance, helpful. As always, easier to write about this than live it, at least for me.

      1. Yeah, I think it’s the very moments when the rubber meets the road, when you’ve got the choice to walk your talk, that transformation occurs. We should hold these moments in very high regard. They are difficult moments, yet also necessary. The very moment we are tempted to fold, or give up, or be faithless, or say that wrong thing, or react negatively – the moment of our crisis – is also the very moment, I believe, that if handled properly, will begin or further the process of God shaping us into the mature Christians He desires us to be.

      2. I agree and would add that our failures in these times are used for the same purpose. Both victories and failures have the potential of pushing us toward transformation.

  2. Can you elaborate on how God can use our failures to transform us? I like the idea, but I have this sense of when I don’t make progress or succeed in a test or trial, that I’m doomed to repeat it until I get it right.

    1. Failure has a way of eroding pride and attacking our self-sufficiency. It has the potential of driving us outside of ourselves and toward the gospel. Of course, it can push us further inward as well. I read your post on sanctification the other day and I think this dialogue ties into that conversation. One important facet of that conversation is the kingdom nature of sanctification. The kingdom is filled with paradoxes: the first will be last, the greatest are slaves, humility is glory. Sanctification is a kingdom concept. Sometimes up is down. Sometimes progress appears backwards. I just think that growth is far from clean and neat. I tend to think it happens in the places where we are sure we have failed miserably.

      1. Good points. I agree that we tend to measure ‘success’ by outward identifiers, when true success is probably more of an inward growth that may not be associated with the appearance of success, and may even be associated with the appearance of failure.

        It’s comforting to know that God can even use our failures. And if our failures move us in the right direction, then there was something redemptive in them.

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