In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today" (Matthew 6:34 NRSV).
If I were in Haiti, I would live the truth of these words. Haitians know enough troubles for today--how to drink, how to eat, how to sleep in a dry place, how to heal from wounds, how to avoid danger, how to protect the children and the elderly, and so on and on. When one is just trying to survive, one 24-hour day is a huge period of time to live through. When you are trying to survive today, you do not have any energy left to even think about tomorrow.
The truth of these words applies not only to situations of daily survival, but also to quite different situations, yet with a twist. When we are not trying to just survive daily, Jesus' words provides a direction for how to live.
How strange these words seem to us in a society which is committed to planning for tomorrow. We are convinced that human reason gives us the capacity to anticipate developments and to calculate the best likely scenarios in the future if we take certain steps now.
Is Jesus objecting to planning and the kind of rational calculation it involves? I do not think so. After all, he praised the rational planning of a builder who wants to construct a tower or a king who intends to go to war (Luke 14:25-33).
Jesus is aiming at a spiritual dimension which is an aspect of the human rational process. Our calculating can be a sign of our anxiety. Our anxiety springs from the sense that we cannot control life although we are trying everything we can to do so. Perhaps without our even realizing it, we have displaced a trust in God with a trust in ourselves. Caught in this syndrome of self-trust, calculation, and anxiety, there is no freedom of the spirit to rejoice and give thanks. To break this pattern, Jesus commands us, "Do not worry about tomorrow."
Jesus lived with a kind of care-free spirit because of his absolute trust in his heavenly Father. He saw how oppressed others felt because of their lack of trust. I think these unforgettable words from the Sermon on the Mount are a cry from the One who is the true human being to the rest of us, as if to say, "You do not have to go through life living as you do, if you will only trust in my Father."
(See what a depth of mystery there is in human existence. Some would have us believe that we are mere animals. Yet the human experience of worry may open up for us a whole realm of spiritual reality. We should not be surprised, for we are created in the image of God, and we live in God's creation of all things visible and invisible.)
We may plan for tomorrow, but we should live for today. Life is a diurnal experience. We awake each day to witness the rising of the sun and a new beginning. The brightness of the noontime says that we have time to do what God gives us to do. The setting of the sun is the signal that we cannot do all things because we are finite creatures, and so we must ready ourselves for the night and rest. In all things, we can give gratitude to God--gratitude for the joy which is there if we look for it, and gratitude for strength to deal with the disappointments, frustrations, and threats that are inevitable in the world.