Grace to you!
A jobless person went to a spiritual director and complained: “Life is hopeless. I can’t find a job and being alive has no value to me anymore. I am bored staying at home.”
The spiritual director asked him to volunteer at the homeless center in his neighborhood.
A month later, the excited jobless man came back to the spiritual director. A newfound joy was written all over his countenance. He told the spiritual director volunteering at the homeless center gave him a fresh perspective about life. Though those at the center were evidently poor, they seemed to have hope and to hang in there.
Often, we want to carry the worries of the world and they weigh us down. Like the mythic Sisyphus, we think we can solve all problems, but realize they are enormous and too heavy for our shoulders.
There is a biblical answer to anxiety regarding what we can’t control. It’s found in Jesus’ great lesson, the classical New Testament text on Divine Providence recorded in Matthew 6:24-34. It’s part of the entire teaching called the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus says: “Seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness and all things will be added to you” (Mt 6:33).
Why did Jesus propose to the listeners a “Kingdom-based” solution to the anxieties of life? Some who are not “God’s Kingdom-oriented” would argue it’s begging the question. They would rather want to see a more social activism towards food for the poor and housing for the homeless than simply intangible trust. Those are good. Charity to the poor is priceless. However, in this word of God lies the wisdom from above.
Try as we may, there are certain things in life we can’t control. No security is such we can say we are absolutely sure we are set for life. One turn of event—it may be a changing health situation, broken relationships, sudden death or change in government policy—could turn the world upside down on us.
Hence, in life, self-sufficiency isn’t realistic. We are basically in need of one thing or another. It could be food, clothing, housing, insurance, retirement packages, job, promotion, even love and friendship. These we can’t always control. And our minds could wonder from one need to another, from one want to another. Insatiability is a common human reality and with it, comes some measure of worry—mild or severe, such as anxiety.
If the source of our joy is only these things, we could be anxious, and many times unnecessarily anxious. God our Father doesn’t want us to be anxious about tomorrow. He visits us with His Word, the word of providence.
If creation is by God’s hands, then the sustenance of creatures is a necessary follow-up to creation. This is divine providence. Providence then is seen as “the dispositions by which God guides his creation toward this perfection.” (CCC 302).
God has provided and continues to provide the necessary graces—whether in forms of sanctifying grace, actual grace or special graces, and other favors through people and events to reassure us of His love and provision.
In the case of the returnees from Babylonian captivity, God made a promise of restoration for Zion (Isaiah 49:14-15). That promise was about the time then, and about the ultimate redemption of God’s children in Christ now. To be in Christ is truly the Kingdom, which God asks us to seek first. Christ-centered security is the ultimate. Unshakable. Answer to anxieties of life.
God knows each person, cares for all and sees that we aren’t abandoned. Consider those moments you thought there was no more hope for you, then out of the blue you witness the encouragement, which is indescribable.
Reflect on your past, about those moments you thought your hope was gone and there was no future anymore. In retrospect, you realize you were wrong. Don’t you look back to those times and laugh at your little faith?
It may seem bad, or really bad now. However, your Provident God isn’t abandoning you. Like a mom who can’t abandon her precious baby; and even if she does, God promises: “I will not forget you” (Is 49:15). Trust in God’s providence and worry less about what you can’t control.
Hear these encouraging words from the Lord: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” (Mtt. 6:34).
I pray for you and your loved ones using St. Paul’s words (Phil 4:19): “May the Lord supply all that you need according to His richness in glory in Christ. “Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.