"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, O you of little faith!” -Luke 12:27-28
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been anxious about something.
I can still feel the weight of worry from my earliest fears - believing every night I would get sucked down the pipes along with dirty, draining bath water. Afraid that if we stayed too long at church on Sunday, we would be locked inside the building for the rest of the week. After a fire safety course in second grade, I drew an escape plan and then forced my siblings and parents to practice. As Y2K lured around the corner, I became obsessed over the possibility of the world ending. (Thankfully, my parents bought a couple of gallons of distilled water to appease me.)
Although these are hilarious childhood fears, the same sentiments still haunt me today. Unfortunately, they now manifest in more “realistic” anxieties. Instead of bathtub drains and locked church doors, I worry about financial security and that those close to me will suddenly pass away
I can’t count the number of times my parents read me Matthew 6 and Luke 12 growing up. They were highly talented at consoling and loving their prematurely serious daughter, and to this day, the words of those chapters immediately give me a sense of peace. Yet, over the years, I’ve realized that while many times the familiarity of these words and the gentle command not to feel a certain way brought me a temporary comfort, the solace wasn’t permanent. Quickly, anxiety (and the impending guilt from feeling anxious) crept back into my serious little head.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why exactly this happens - why doesn’t the continual reminder that God loves me and cares for me in such a tender and personal way ward off unwanted anxiety? Why does fear continually creep in?
I know I am still a sinner and even when I desire to put my full trust in my Creator, I hold no such capability within myself to do so (nor will I ever). More often than not, when I turn to these words for comfort, I wrongly assume the power of comfort lies within me. It’s here where the broader context of these words is lost.
These passages are not the simple commands of some rabbi or wise teacher instructing us to distinguish ourselves from sparrows and ravens. This is the very Word of God - present since the beginning of time - reminding us that our comfort is to be found in Him - in His actions, His love, and His grace.
The same Jesus who speaks here will in just a short time hang on the cross under the weight of the world’s sin so that we may someday experience true comfort. We look to him, not ourselves, for the fulfillment of these words. God as Creator is comforting in the moment, God as Savior - The Sustainer and Sacrifice - is comforting for eternity.
Through the death and resurrection of His son, God gives us life upon life. This truth reorients the words of Luke 12 and Matthew 6, and reminds us that the true comfort given through the cross doesn’t have to make sense to me in the flesh. It’s already accomplished.
The cross breathes life into every promise of Jesus. Jesus tells us to consider the lilies not only in order for us to remember we are valuable to him as God’s creation, but also in order for us to know we are valuable as God’s redeemed people.
Thank goodness for words likes these that point me to look out and and up - rather than within - at the comfort given freely through the cross of Christ.
Kelsi is a freelance writer and editor of the 1517 Blog. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Reformation Studies from Concordia University Irvine. She lives with her husband, Doug, in Dallas, Texas.