January 29, 2019 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza
This week, two friends continue their conversation over a cup of mocha java. Both of them were just ordinary young women thinking about the future. The question on the table was this: "How will we make ends meet?" The names have been changed. It went somewhere something like this:
ALICIA: Even if Rick and I can stay together, will we be able to make ends meet?
BRITTANY: What's your concern?
ALICIA: The economy. Jobs are tough to find and easy to lose.
BRITTANY: Yeah, and prices ...
ALICIA: I just paid $3.90 per gallon for heating oil! Food prices are up, everything is up ... everything except your paycheck that is.
BRITTANY: There's not a lot of work out there. Things go in cycles and we are certainly in a downward one.
ALICIA: I read the other day that people are healthier because they are going out to eat less often. The reason they are going out to eat less often is they can't afford to do it as much!
BRITTANY: Have you been able to save any money?
ALICIA: Save any money? Impossible! I'm banking on hitting the lottery, or winning big on a scratch ticket!
BRITTANY: I was in line at the convenience store the other day, just trying to buy a gallon of milk. The convenience store is not that convenient anymore. Everybody in front of me was buying lottery tickets and scratch tickets.
ALICIA: Hey, I'm playing too.
BRITTANY: The odds are so slim it's just a waste of money, Alicia. The lottery is a cruel tax on the poor. Instead of playing you should be praying!
ALICIA: Like those guys on TV tell you? Some guy said that if I send him some money, God will bless me ten times as much. Is this what you mean?
BRITTANY: No, not at all. What I am saying is that God will take care of you. He will meet your needs. You need to ask Him, and trust Him to do so. Things may be difficult, and you will have to work hard and be wise. But, at the end of the day, God will take care of you.
ALICIA: Why are things so hard, then. Why is life so painful?
BRITTANY: Christian writer C.S. Lewis put it this way, “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” If life were nothing but pleasure, people would think that they could live without God. God is concerned with your eternal good, and the temporary pains of this life are designed to get your attention. Tragically, many people blame God for their own faults and take the credit for His blessings.
ALICIA: Yeah, I know people like that. They have their own selfish expectations. When things don't turn out the way they want, they blame God for it. Seems childish to me, like a little kid who insists on playing with fire. Thinks his parents are wrong even though they are keeping him from getting burned!
BRITTANY: Our hearts beat over 70,000 times a day. If you miss just one beat, it may be a game changer. There are a thousand unknowns. There are a thousand things beyond our control. Only a fool would think that they can live without God!
ALICIA: I think you are right but I feel less secure than when I started talking with you. I'm getting really worried ...
BRITTANY: Alicia, listen. Jesus said this, "do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." That is in the Bible in Matthew 6:25-33.
ALICIA: Jesus is talking about food and clothing ...
BRITTANY: If the birds, who don't plan ahead, have no reason to worry, then certainly God's people, who can plan ahead, should not worry either. Birds do not "sow or reap or store away in
barns, and yet our heavenly Father feeds them." If God provides even for these little creatures, how much more will he care for you? You were created in His very image!
ALICIA: What about the lilies and Solomon?
BRITTANY: Solomon was rich. He asked God for wisdom and God blessed him with wisdom and wealth. Jesus compares Solomon in all his grandeur with lilies growing in a field. Jesus says, "See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"
ALICIA: I get it. If God beautifully clothes that which is temporary, how much more will clothe us who live forever. What was the last part you read?
BRITTANY: "For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." It is a matter of priorities. Put God first, He will take care of the rest. Seek to do His will and put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, first and foremost. God takes care of His people!
ALICIA: This is like what that pastor who writes in The Gardner News has been saying.
BRITTANY: Now the lights are coming on. If God has solved your biggest problem by rescuing you from the fires of hell by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, do you think He can help you pay your oil bill?
ALICIA: When you put it that way, it puts things in a different perspective.
BRITTANY: A proper perspective. Life is not a perpetual picnic but it should not be a perpetual panic either.
ALICIA: There is hope! There is help!
BRITTANY: We must live in the present, not in the future or in the past. Author George Macdonald put it this way: “No man ever sank under the burden of the day. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today, that the weight is more than a man can bear."
ALICIA: It's like the old saying, "Life's a cinch by the inch, but life's hard by the yard."
BRITTANY: It stands written in 1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you." The psalmist wrote in Psalm 46:1-3, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help
in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."
ALICIA: This is the first time I have ever heard this stuff. Why didn't I see that in the Bible before?
BRITTANY: You don't read the Bible, remember?
ALICIA: Oh, yeah. Sorry about that.