Weeks of increasing stress culminated in Father Ted, a flatmate who insisted on quoting the entire episode, a flounce from the living room (complete with door slamming) and more swearing than Father Jack on a detox. My behaviour may have been over-dramatic, but the spoiling of half an hour’s solace on Craggy Island after a long day was the final straw for the worry that had built up over my last few weeks of my final year at university.
For some reason I’d decided that that spring was the perfect time to become busier than I’d ever been, and commit myself to all sorts of projects on the side from my degree, including playing in a musical, finishing a scuba instructor qualification, and performing in a sold-out show at the city hall. It eventually turned a normally laid-back guy into a gibbering mess, terrified of failure and disappointing the cast members, bank balance and future career that was all apparently hanging on my relative successes.
But in the moments after my stomping out, God spoke. Amid the curses, I happened to pick up my Bible and skim Matthew, and there it was, chapter six verses 25-34, telling me how much bigger life was than the temporary stresses I was dealing with, how stress won’t add a single hour to my life, that God knows, and God cares. Verse 34 commands, simply: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
And that was that. It hit me like someone had literally smacked me round the face with my Bible. Suddenly I gained a fresh perspective on my stresses and petty sulking and I finally relaxed. Believing those words brought on a real physical and emotional change.
I slept better, got on better with my flatmates, and survived those short months. I don’t know how exactly many other commands of Jesus I struggle to enact (clue: lots), but this one hit home, and while my faith has ebbed and flowed a number of times over the last decade, it has been a comfort in times of impossible deadlines, joblessness, churchlessness and repeated struggles with direction ever since.
So let there be hope. In times of worry, we can take a deep breath, have a chat with Jesus, and gain some perspective. While the passage gives no answers about tomorrow, or even tomorrow’s tomorrow, Jesus’s words let us again rest in the knowledge that he actually cares about our lives, and he will be with us as we take on each day and each problem at a time.
And maybe today it is a particularly apt message of hope. For tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and whether you’re single and desperate for a partner, in a stale relationship and wondering just how you’ll get the spark back, or have forgotten it completely and are frantically calling restaurants or dusting off Nigella, it’s a tomorrow ripe for panic, worry and stress. But take a moment to listen to Jesus, let tomorrow deal with its own worries, and allow you and God to get on with winning at life today.
(image via Channel 4 website)