In Anxious Times…

Remember the birds and the lilies.

Helmut ThielickeDr. Helmut Thielicke preached a course of sermons on the Sermon on the Mount in St Mark’s Church, Stuttgart, during the terrible years (1946–1948) which immediately followed World War II. He often alluded to the scream of the air-raid sirens, alerting people to yet more devastation and death from allied bombs. What could freedom from anxiety mean in such circumstances?

‘We know the sight and the sound of homes collapsing in flames… Our own eyes have seen the red blaze and our own ears have heard the sound of crashing, falling, and shrieking.’ Against that background, the command to look at the birds and the lilies might well have sounded hollow. ‘Nevertheless,’ Dr. Thielicke went on, ‘I think we must stop and listen when this man, whose life on earth was anything but birdlike and lilylike, points us to the carefreeness of the birds and lilies. Were not the somber shadows of the Cross already looming over this hour of the Sermon on the Mount?’

In other words, it is reasonable to trust in our heavenly Father’s love, even in times of grievous trouble, because we have been privileged to see it revealed in Christ and his cross.

So then God’s children are promised freedom neither from work, nor from responsibility, nor from trouble, but only from worry. Worry is forbidden to us: it is incompatible with the Christian faith.

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