Give. Thanks (Matthew 6:25-34)
Freddy was a perpetual optimist and his parents were worried by it. His brother John was a perpetual pessimist, but that didn’t bother their parents. The parents talked to a child psychologist about Freddy’s optimism, and the psychiatrist agreed that it was probably dangerous to be so optimistic. Since Christmas was coming she suggested they give Freddy a really bad present. On Christmas day John got an i-phone 5 with all the bells and whistles, and he started to whine about how it will probably be defective or get broken or get stolen. Freddy got a sac full of horse manure, and he enthusiastically went racing cheerfully around the house. His parents asked him why he was so happy. Freddy said, “With this much horse manure, there has to be a pony around here somewhere.”
The reading today from Matthew is one of the hardest readings in the Christian scriptures, especially in a culture such as ours which pushes planning, goal-setting, and perpetual evaluations, all of which encourage worrying. When we remember that Jesus had a mission of helping people connect with God in a real and meaningful way, we can understand why Jesus said what he did.
To be connected with God, we need to stop thinking about ourselves. If we are trapped by worry, we can’t stop thinking about ourselves, and then direct our thoughts elsewhere.
The instructor of a winter defensive driving course had this insight to offer the person who interviewed him. His primary goal was getting drivers to look down the highway instead of at what may be in the ditch. If drivers look at something in the ditch, they will be inclined to steer into the ditch.
If we are focused on worrying about not having enough food, shelter, clothing, money or whatever, we will be inclined to making those things happen. Just as a driver is expected to drive down the highway, we are expected to do what we need to do to have enough to eat. We are just not supposed to waste our time and energy worrying about it. A farmer friend of mine described how he planted and looked after his crops, but never prayed for rain or whatever. He only used his energy for doing what was needed, and left the rest up to time to take care of.
One activity that helps reduce worry and anxiety is giving thanks. When we reflect on the good that has happened in our lives, it is easier to quit worrying. I now invite you to share with me in the activity of giving thanks. Come up, offer a word of thanks, knowing that God hears all we say, and light a candle.