We are living in stressful and uncertain times. With airwaves and newsfeeds caught in a cycle of bad news and hysteria, it’s easy to let anxiety get the best of us. Every trip to the grocery store and gas pump stirs up waves of angst that crash through the heart and mind. Pandemics, supply chain issues, and war continue to pummel us with worry, divisiveness, confusion, and fear. We wonder where God is in all of this. Will we be safe? Will we make it?
Jesus, don’t you care?
I find it difficult to just let go of my anxieties. When I am in the midst of worrisome and stressful circumstances, it can be hard to trust that God is in control — to believe that He not only sees my circumstances, but He cares, and He is going to help me. Like the disciples caught in a storm at sea, panicked and fearing their boat would sink and they would drown, I cry out,
“Jesus, don’t you care?”
In the case of the disciples and their storm-tossed boat, Jesus answered with a demonstration of His power and authority over all of creation, calming the wind and the waves, then asking this question,
“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40 ESV).
My personal paraphrase of Jesus’ words is, “I’m in complete control. When I am with you, there’s no need to fear.”
When I struggle to find peace and hope in the storms of life, there’s a scripture that has spoken to my heart since childhood, Matthew 6:25-34. This passage encourages us to think carefully about how God takes care of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. It is a glimpse into God’s heart for even the tiniest and most obscure elements of His creation.
Scientists have classified around two million different species of plants, but that is only one-quarter of the species presumed to exist. God created millions of plants, each unique and beautiful, and each having an important role in the finely-tuned ecosystems of the planet. It didn’t matter whether they would be obscure or familiar, seen or unseen, He poured his artistry and creative genius into every single one.
If God cares and provides for the plant life He created, most of which will never be seen or known, will he not care much more for his children — seen or unseen, famous or unknown?
Consider the Lilies
We are surrounded by the descendants of the plants God spoke into existence on the third day of creation. They have managed to thrive and survive despite floods, droughts, diseases, fluctuating climate, harsh environments, and other natural stressors. God has designed plants to survive in deserts, arctic climates, rainforests, in water, and every ecosystem on earth, no matter how inhospitable. Though arguably among the most vulnerable of all living things, they are also the most powerful and essential — holding in the tiny cells of their leaves the ability to capture and transform the life-enabling and sustaining energy of the sun.
With the onset of spring, we’ll soon be treated to the magnificence of flowers emerging from their wintry rest. With such awesome beauty bursting forth from the dull gray hues of winter, spring is the most inspiring season of all. How do those flowers survive a long winter of freezing temperatures? How do they know when it’s time to emerge? The answers reveal to us that not only did God make these plants unparalleled in beauty, but they are also perfectly engineered to survive.
During the winter, God protects them from freezing. The surrounding soil acts as an insulating blanket, and the sugary food inside acts as an anti-freeze. God has also created an internal clock that requires the bulbs to endure an extended period of freezing temperatures to prepare for emergence. As the sun warms the soil, the bulbs awaken, allowing the juvenile plants to utilize stored nutrients and begin to grow. After using those nutrients, the young plants are designed to quickly and efficiently transform sunlight into new food stores for the next
generation. God has not only made them exquisitely beautiful, but He has engineered them to survive through the harshest winters and ensure the survival of subsequent generations.
So, when I ask Jesus, “Do you care?” he responds, “Consider the lilies…”
Growing in Faith
When I contemplate how God has designed, equipped, and cared for the beautiful lily, I find hope and renewed faith. I stand in awe of the complexity and beauty of His creation, and I remind myself that if God takes care of the flowers, and if He sees when even a tiny sparrow falls, He will not turn away from me in my time of need. I don’t need to be anxious — how much more does He care for me?
As believers, the seed of faith has already been planted in our hearts, but we must care for it.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, ESV). To grow that faith, we must take time to absorb the living water found in God’s word. When the bad news and stress of the day closes in, we need to press into our Savior and trust Him for help and comfort. I pray that amidst the troubles of life the seeds of faith in your heart will blossom into blessings of joy and peace in Christ Jesus.
What burdens are you carrying? What anxieties are stealing your joy and peace?
How are you tending to the seed of faith God has planted in your heart?