Essential Needs

By Melanie Francis

Do Not Worry

25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?[f] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

Matthew 6:25-34

A puff of smoke escapes my lips in the pre-dawn hours of my suburban northern California town. A large crowd gathers to wait, many for over an hour. A clerk counts patrons, allowing twenty-five to enter every ten minutes. We are all doing the same thing- hunting toilet paper. It amazes me how quickly my perception of “essential need” changes. Two weeks ago I was perfectly content with the package of toilet paper sitting in my cabinet. I had no way of knowing that I would have to wake before dawn every morning because I was so desperate for something so basic.

Jesus knew that this desperation was a part of the human response to a crisis. God is not surprised by the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, in fact, Jesus said, “do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or (vs. 31)”. . .  ‘What shall we use for toilet paper? Okay, I added that part, but you get the point. Jesus is still aware of my essential needs and it is best to choose not to be anxious but to rely on him to supply those needs because “your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (vs 32). Does that mean that I don’t get up at 5 am to hunt toilet paper? Probably not, but it does mean that I can walk in trust rather than worry. It also means that I should keep my essential needs in perspective.

It is in times of difficulty that individuals and communities refocus. Jesus’ central thought in his discussion about worry is found in verse 33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”. I am reminded of my need for toilet paper multiple times a day, but do I remember that a more essential need is “seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness” during this time? What does that look like for me as my family and I are under a “shelter in place” order? Am I seeking what God identifies as my essential needs as actively as I am seeking toilet paper each day? What does that even look like in this season of gathering limits and social distancing? Am I willing to find creative alternatives, like buying Kleenex, to meet those essential spiritual needs?

Our current situation presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to explore alternative ways of being the church of Jesus Christ in the world when the church buildings cannot be accessed. What are you doing to seek the kingdom of God right now? How are you and your church creatively meeting essential needs? How are you seeking and displaying the righteousness of God? How are you meeting essential needs in the community right now? I invite you to join the discussion. Let’s talk.

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