A little past the midpoint of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25-34 to be exact), Jesus tells His audience,
“Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith? Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Almost all of us read those words and take comfort from them, believing that God will provide whatever we need…, on an intellectual level. I say “on an intellectual level” because, while we believe it with our head, we don’t feel it in our heart. Instead, most days we operate on a level exemplified by this quote from Anne LaMotte:
“Jealousy always has been my cross, the weakness and woundedness in me that has most often caused me to feel ugly and unlovable, like the Bad Seed. I’ve had many years of recovery and therapy, years filled with intimate and devoted friendships, yet I still struggle. I know that when someone gets a big slice of pie, it doesn’t mean there’s less for me. In fact, I know that there isn’t even a pie, that there’s plenty to go around, enough food and love and air.
But I don’t believe it for a second.I secretly believe there’s a pie.
I will go to my grave brandishing my fork.”
While we claim to be comforted by the words in the Sermon on the Mount, we don’t live like it. Instead, we spend our time jealously protecting our stuff and worrying about having “enough” (which is really a code word for all the stuff we want). Meanwhile, in our own cities and towns, our brothers and sisters are hungry, homeless and broke, families in some parts of the world survive on less than a dollar a day and people walk miles for drinking water so foul we wouldn’t use it in our toilets and children as young as 10 years old are forced to serve as soldiers. That we do this is disheartening, to say the least; heart-breaking is probably a more accurate word. It’s heart-breaking because it shows what we really think of God; that instead of infinitely powerful, generous and all-encompassing, He’s small, limited and weak. As the French philosopher Voltaire said, “If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor.” Who would want to follow a God like that?