His wife’s cancer had come back. They last fought the big ‘C’ 17 years ago. It had gone away. For almost two decades. But it had come back. The prognosis was good. But still? What if? They had three young children. His work entailed a lot of travelling. What if? We chatted over a cup of coffee.
I had been down this road before. One lesson I learnt was that we had to learn afresh to live in the present. He agreed. I told him that today, at that point in time, his wife was alive and fairly well. His kids were great. His work was strategic. And progressing.
Tomorrow? Who knows what may happen tomorrow? The Lord may decide that my friend should go home first. His wife may receive immediate miraculous healing. Or Christ may return. But that was tomorrow. And for most of us that tomorrow is not known to us.
Indeed one can’t live in the future. One can only live in the present. Which is not to say that we shouldn’t plan for eventualities. What we shouldn’t do is allow the possibility of a worst-case scenario sap precious energy from the present. This makes sense but it may be harder than we realize. As Henri Nouwen reminds us:
“The way in which newspapers, radio, and TV communicates their news to us creates an atmosphere of constant emergency. The excited voices of reporters, the predilection for gruesome accidents, cruel crimes, and perverted behaviour, and the hour-to-hour coverage of human misery at home and abroad slowly engulf us with an all-pervasive sense of impending doom.”
It is hard not to be anxious about the future!
What then are we to do? We need to be quiet. We need to be quiet enough to hear Jesus say to us:
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34 (ESV)
Do not be anxious? Are you kidding? Do you know what the future may hold? What right does Jesus have to tell us not to be anxious? Because he knows how much God loves us.
He loves us more than we could ever understand. He is our heavenly Father. He gave us His only beloved Son. He won’t jerk around with our future.
So we leave the future where it belongs. In His hands. And refocus on the present. We learn to savour each moment as it is given to us. Thankful for the gift of life. Seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
We finished our coffee. My friend went home to his family.