I do not think there can be any denying the truth that our modern life is an anxious life. The prescription of anxiety medication is at an all time high. There are anti-anxiety drugs focused specifically for children, and even for your pets. I am not saying these prescriptions are wrong or unfaithful, but it underscores just how anxious life has become. There seems to be something usure and unstable about the world. I am not sure exactly what it is, but it certainly has to do in part with the massive influx of information mixed with entertainment which comes streaming into our lives at every given point of the day, the powerfully divided political climate, a struggling economy, and a mixture of all these and more. One of the words in the Greek we regularly translate as the English word “worry” means to be suspended in the air, detached from the ground, even tossed about like a buoy in the ocean. That could be a great description of life these days, uncertain and drifting.
Personally, my anxiety often comes from the realization I am not where I want to be, not doing what I want to do, unable to accomplish the things I want to accomplish, or even unsure of what it is I really want to do. Do you know what I mean? It is the uncertainty about the direction and impact of our lifetime. So, we worry about our lives. We worry about the time that is slipping away. We worry about our missed opportunities our unfulfilled dreams and desires. We have regrets we cannot undo. But just maybe, tomorrow will provide the opportunity we long for. Tomorrow, that is what we need. Tomorrow is the hope. All the great poets have held forth the promise of tomorrow. You cannot change yesterday, you may not be able to drastically impact today, but tomorrow holds every possibility. However, the reality is, for many of us, tomorrow is more like an enemy. It brings awareness of our failures, despair of our hopes and dreams. That is why we worry about it. Yet, it all just rolls on, endless, frustrating, and full of anxiety.
Now, the Words of our Lord in the midst of this may strike us as a bit simplistic. We are consumed by frustrations, anxiety, and worry and Jesus starts talking about birds and flowers. “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” Or “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you.” His point is quite simple. The truth He wants you to know is that you are of more value to God than the birds and the flowers. If He cares for them, He will care for you. He will provide for you. He will take care of you, not only today, but tomorrow as well. So, Jesus asks you, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” The thing is, we know this. We know worry does not make life better. We know being anxious is not good for our physical, mental, or spiritual well-being. But simply saying, “Don’t do it!” does not seem to stop us.
The issue, or at least part of it, is rooted in what Jesus calls “little faith.” “O you of little faith!” He says, “Do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows you need them.” Now, this little faith is still faith, but it is faith which is missing something crucial. It is missing the resurrection of our Lord. The disciples have not gone through Good Friday and have not celebrated Easter morning. They are filled with anxious hearts and worry about tomorrow for it is the unknown and uncertain.
But the empty tomb changes all of this. The resurrection of our Lord changes everything, especially everything about tomorrow. You see, the grave was certain. The grave was a given. The grave is the fuel for the fear of tomorrow. Did we do enough today? Did we make the impact while we could? Did we use our time well? But now the bonds of the grave are broken. Now death turns backwards in the great working of God. Through the empty tomb the promise of your resurrection sounds forth. As your Lord lives, so you too will live. Your life is not limited to this age, to the strife and struggle of the days lived under the sun. No, this is but a moment in the great stretch of eternity. An anxious life, a life consumed by worry is a life being lived as if the resurrection did not happen. It is to move through your days as if the promises of the empty tomb do not apply to you. It is to focus everything on the temporal, the momentary, the passing things of this age.
What our Lord calls for is a radical change in our living, a disruption of our normal habits which produce anxiety and worry. He reminds us saying, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” It is the pleasure of God to give you His Kingdom, to give you His gifts, to give you eternal blessings in paradise itself. This is what He wants to do. And He then calls for a letting-go of earthly wealth, of temporary treasures that mire us in worry, and instead focuses us on a heavenly treasure, a treasure which will not grow old, a treasure that will not be worn out or quickly consumed. We are not to remain as those of little faith. But in the full realization of the resurrection of Jesus, in the promise of an empty tomb we are called to a bold life built on a lasting treasure.
Yet, we know this is easier said than done. It is not so simple to change the way one lives their life. It is not so easy to overcome our worry and anxiety. But our Lord is not just speaking about possibility or dreams of a better way of living. No, He offers practical advice here. He reminds you of your value. He reminds you of the Father’s pleasure to give you all things. Then He tells you precisely what you need to do in order to live in the confidence of an eternal treasure. What does Jesus say? He says, “Seek His Kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” Seek the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom He longs to give to you and all these things, all the issues about what you wear or what you will eat or what you will do will be added to you.
So, you seek it out. You go after the Kingdom, for there is the promise of eternal life. There is the hope of the resurrection. But where do you find it? Where do you find the Kingdom? You find it in His Word, in His proclamation to you. You find the Kingdom of God in the forgiveness of sins. You find it in the washing of holy baptism as you are declared to be an heir of all the gifts of God. You find it in the body and blood of our crucified and risen Savior, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of all of your sins. You find the Kingdom of God in the comforting words and welcome of your brothers and sisters in Christ. You find the Kingdom of God in a word of encouragement, in a shoulder to cry on, in an embrace when you feel alone and cut off. To seek the Kingdom of God is to find yourself in the fellowship of His people. Which means it is in this fellowship where your needs can be met and where worry and anxiety are replaced with care and compassion.
This is the radical change our Lord calls for. Gathering with the people of God is the byproduct of seeking His Kingdom. It is together that we find a way through the worry of our temporal age. It is together that we are found ready and eager for the return of our Lord. This fellowship, made up of imperfect sinners, redeemed and sanctified in the blood of the Lamb is the way to a lasting treasure. And as we live and walk together, as we seek the Kingdom and hear His Word of forgiveness, hope, and life, we just might be able to smile and find comfort in the simple joys of the birds of the air and the beauty of the flowers in the field.