Taking Care of Tomorrow

The late Bishop Ernest Fitzgerald used to tell about a man he knew years ago, who lived in one of the isolated corners of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Life was hard, and every day his little hillside farm was at the mercy of drought, wind, or cold. Yet he was about the most serene and deeply contented man Bishop Fitzgerald had ever known. So, he asked the old mountaineer one day if he had ever had any troubles and if he had ever spent sleepless nights. “Sure, I’ve had my troubles,” he said, “but no sleepless nights. When I go to bed I say, ‘Lord, you have to sit up all night anyway. There’s no point in both of us losing sleep. You look after things tonight and when tomorrow comes, I’ll do the best I can to help you.’” (Earnest A. Fitzgerald, Keeping Pace, Inspirations in the Air, p. 18)

It is impossible to live without worries. When we are a child, we worry about getting our fair share, or getting enough attention, or getting caught for something we shouldn’t have done. We get a little older and we begin to worry about what others think about us, or if someone will love us, or if we are good enough to meet our family’s expectations. Over the years of adult life, the worries change, but they are always there: marriage troubles, kid troubles, career troubles, health troubles. We look to the past and worry that something bad will return to haunt us. We look to the future and it is impossible to know, but easy to imagine, a whole army of possible problems and disasters.

Interestingly, according to Jesus, if we belong to the Kingdom of God, the worries of the human condition will not be ours. He directly tells us, “Do not worry about your life.” And he is so serious about this teaching that he gives countless examples from nature to show that God is attentive in his care for the smallest bird, and extravagantly clothing the world with beauty, and he will do even more to care for us.

In our heart we know that this is true. God is a loving Father who blesses us more than we can imagine. And so much that happens day by day is beyond our control. But, of course, that is why we are so worried! So, we have to try to be practical. We know we cannot change a single thing from the past. Regret over missed opportunities and things we wish we had not done is misplaced, because we cannot change any of it. And as we look to the past and remember the things we worried so much about, we come to discover that God has brought us through some really difficult things. And so he will continue to do, for he does not abandon us.

The future is even more worrisome! We already know from experience that all our planning does not guarantee that everything will be exactly as we expected. Accidents happen, people disappoint us, sometimes it rains on our picnic. The Lord is all-powerful, and he is in control of all that will be. But interestingly, in the Bible God is only described as all-powerful ten times, and nine times it is in the Book of Revelation, which describes God’s triumph over all the evil forces arrayed against his people. God promises us blessed happiness with him in heaven, but he does not show us all that is to come before we get there.

And so we are left with the only part of our life firmly in our control – the present. Today is filled with possibilities – we may be invited to patiently bear with disappointment or suffering, and we choose to do so to be more in union with Christ on the Cross. We may be invited to be so grateful for all that God has done for us that we deliberately choose to surprise someone with the gift of our time, or to give away our money to help someone in need. We may be invited to speak a word of encouragement, or to turn aside from anger and choose to forgive. We never know what this day will bring. But, as we admit that we belong to Someone greater, that he is taking care of not only the big things, but even the smallest details, we discover we don’t have to lose sleep over much. After all, someone who loves us completely holds us in his hands and he will take care of tomorrow just as well as he has taken care of today.

–Fr. Stephen W Bierschenk