James 1:2-3: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”

Trouble and worry go together like peanut butter and jelly! Quoting from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, a former tax collector by the name of Matthew wrote in his gospel (Matthew 6:34):

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Matthew didn’t grow up dreaming of a career in tax collecting. This profession came his way probably because it was offered to him by the Romans who occupied Israel at the time Matthew was alive. Maybe he was an educated man or had other qualities that made him stand out. He got the job because he was qualified and because he needed it. His own finances may have left him no choice – who knows? What we do know about Matthew is his instant attraction to Jesus when He came along. And Jesus, who knows human hearts, read him like a book.

Inspired by Matthew’s heart, Jesus told a story about a tax collector. In His story a Pharisee, obsessed by his own virtue, is contrasted with a tax collector who humbly asks God for mercy. Here was Matthew, who had never met Jesus before, and the first thing he hears from Him is a story of a tax collector; he couldn’t believe his own ears when it dawned on him that the tax collector actually was the hero of the story! Wow, someone like him – a hero?

Trouble had come Matthew’s way in the form of public rejection. People just hated his guts because he was viewed as a collaborator. Matthew knew he could get killed any day by a fellow citizen if he was not careful. He grew tough so the hateful comments of the people around him wouldn’t offend him any longer. But Jesus’s story cut him to the core. This was a no-brainer for him. He got up and left his tax collector’s booth right then and there. He wanted to be near this man Jesus for the rest of his life. And he trusted Him enough to throw all his worries overboard. Following Jesus, he began to live just one day at a time.

Trouble is a standard byproduct of living in this world. There is no such thing as an untroubled life for anybody around here! What Jesus is suggesting is that our Creator can give us solid peace of mind if we let Him take care of us. Living like the birds in the air or the flowers in the field – that is living one day at a time without worrying about the future. God won’t take away our troubles, but He is well able to take away our worries.

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