Anticipation and Reality

It was in a conversation with my boss one afternoon that I aired a measure of uneasiness over a difficult discussion I would be initiating with a colleague within the next few days to come. He listened with patience and then offered the perspective of one not as closely attached to the matter. “The dread of anticipation is worse than the pain of reality,” he quipped. I sat in silence for a moment, a half-grin registering my appreciation of the insight of his adage, its suitability to the situation, and a pithy turn of a phrase.

There are much weightier matters in life than a business meeting, of course, and it is true reality can arrive with a harshness exceeding our expectations. Haven’t we found, though, that tomorrow almost never transpires exactly as we think or fear it may? Then isn’t it also the case we have wasted irretrievable real-time worrying about an imagined tomorrow that never materialized? Can we even begin to assess the amount of empty tonnage we’ve needlessly heaped upon the legitimate burdens of our days? It is a data point I prefer not to know.

When it comes to worrying about tomorrow, Jesus offers this advice in the form of a command: Don’t. “Do not worry about tomorrow,” he said, “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”1 We welcome divine wisdom from Him in whom “all the fulness of Deity lives in bodily form.”2 Still, calendar pages march toward us as they always have, relentless and single-file to a drumbeat of unchanging tempo. Tomorrows become todays, each in its own scheduled time; we cannot hasten them and live them prematurely, nor can we delay them or wish any away. How, then, do we approach tomorrow without adding to the troubles of today?

We can pray, plan and prepare, of course, seeking wisdom from our generous God, for He gladly gives it to those who ask.3 So, too, we let God’s works in the past—whether protecting us against, delivering us from, or sustaining us through the pain of reality—strengthen us for tomorrow; as said the psalmist, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.”4 But I think the most crucial thing for us as we face the future is to trust the character of Him who owns tomorrow and knows it as thoroughly as any day already transpired. We have no need to doubt Him and empower such doubt with worry, for “The Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”5 This is who He is; this is who He always will be. We rest in Him.

Father, in all things you work for the good of those who love you and have been called according to your purpose. This includes all my tomorrows. Thank you. I leave them in your hands. Lead me in peace, joy and purpose today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

1 Matthew 6:34
2 Colossians 2:9
3 James 1:5
4 Psalm 77:11
5 Psalm 100:5

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