Despite our attempts to create security for ourselves with savings, insurance, a strong police force, and so on, we cannot eliminate the fears plaguing our society. The potential dangers of terrorism, various diseases, rising crime rates, natural disasters, and so on bombard us daily, making it impossible to escape our culture of anxiety.
Such fear is nothing new; people have always found something to be afraid of. Some have phobias regarding heights, snakes — you name it. Surveys routinely tell us that the number-one fear of most Americans is the fear of having to speak in public.
Whatever the catalyst may be, all of our fears manifest our apprehensions about the future. If we fear heights, we are afraid that we will fall at some future point. Extreme weather frightens us because we know it might cause great destruction or death, moments or years from now. We cannot control or predict what is coming, and that is what terrifies us most of all.
Jesus knows our tendencies toward anxiety, and that is why we find “fear not” coming from His lips on many occasions (for example, Luke 12:32). Yet persistent fear is fundamentally linked to a lack of faith, and so Jesus rebukes us in today’s passage for worrying incessantly about what tomorrow will bring. If God cares for the birds and the flowers, aspects of creation with less worth than humanity, certainly we can trust Him to provide for us in the future (Matt. 6:25–33). We are not to worry about tomorrow, for we can trust our Father to take care of it (v. 34).
Jesus is not telling us that we should not plan for the future, as Scripture commends prudent measures to deal with what may come (Prov. 21:5). The problem comes when we place confidence in our own machinations (Luke 12:13–21). We fear the future because we trust in our own abilities, and then we realize that we have no real power over what lies ahead of us. However, the Lord holds the future in His hand (Prov. 16:1, 9), and we must trust Him for our security. God does not promise us a life free of trouble, but He does pledge to be with us always, and He will not break this promise (Matt. 28:16–20).