"Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof " (Matthew vi. verse 34)
This teaching concerning the Divine Providence of the Lord comes to mankind in its fever and anxiety, to soothe and to encourage. Here is an assurance from a source of supreme authority. Man stands ever between two testimonies, the testimony of appearance and the testimony of truth. The testimony of appearance is that which the life of the world provides. Experience suggests certain laws by which human life is governed. The more the natural universe is examined, the more perfectly does it appear to be controlled by definite laws. No sphere of enquiry is entered upon by man, but what exemplifies this presence of ordered principle. Man comes to know how and why things happen. So long as he submits to certain conditions, he can provide for his needs. The right season chosen, the seed sown, the soil fertilised, and behold his harvest ripens and his children are fed. A calculation, based on ascertained facts, and he foretells to within a second of time the obscuring of the sun's face by the interposition of the moon. In the spheres, too, of economic and political life, he observes facts, formulates principles, calculates ahead, and the prizes of the world are his.
All this is well, if the other testimony, the higher testimony, is given its due place. There is the testimony of truth, the revelation of that which lies behind appearances, the guidance and counsel and assurance of the Lord Jesus Christ. To give heed to this higher testimony is to safeguard oneself against the errors of appearances. With this higher testimony ignored, the exact and definable character of the world suggests to man his complete control over the circumstances of his life. Whatever he may desire will be forthcoming if he schemes in the right way. The fact that the world is governed by law suggests that man can dispense with all else but the knowledge of that law. It suggests, as do all the appearances of the world, man's self-sufficiency. And hence it is that when his endeavours fail, when unforeseen circumstances intrude and defeat his purposes, he is left utterly without support and comfort. Anxiety arises, feverish exertion invades where weakness is incapable of controlling affairs. Whenever man is led to deny any power beyond his own, the cares of the world absorb his whole thought; and his failures to cope with circumstances bring him, for want of some higher testimony, to despair. Few men attain to so implicit a faith in the Lord's Divine Providence, that cares for the future and anxieties about life do not invade. And yet, when the laws of Divine Providence are studied in the light of heavenly truth, the futility of anxious cares is. made clear. In all that we strive for, in all that we pray for, and long for, that which is of the Lord, that which is truly worthy and of abiding value, will be, must be provided, if we look to the Lord in faith and courage and quiet confidence.
The love of the Lord has brought us into being. That love is deathless and unchanging. The testimony of truth is that the Lord's love, unsleeping, watches eternally over that which, in us,is its peculiar object of desire, and enfolds all that is worthy of protection with power Divine. The testimony of appearance is inadequate and misleading. It focuses our cares and attention upon the temporal and illusory. The testimony of truth summons us to concerns of abiding value. The Lord is mindful of His own, of that which is His and thus eternal. " Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow will take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof ".
The renunciation of anxious care for the morrow is not a call to fanatical heedlessness. There is nothing contrary to the Lord's Providence and Will in providing for the future, but this provision is not to be made man's primary regard. He is not to provide in the spirit of self-sufficiency, disregarding the thought that all provision for the truly needful is the Lord's provision through him, and not his own. " Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof ". Even literally considered, the day itself has its own cares, its own anxieties, its own requirements. Anxious cares about the future are useless, for even if the future promises disaster, there is no need to duplicate the sorrow and disaster. There is the present, with its burdens and trials, immediately before us; there, at least, is our first concern. " The morrow shall take thought for the things of itself ". But the real force of the Lord's words requires, of course, a knowledge of their spirit, and from this higher knowledge our duty in the world itself, as taught in the literal sense, is made more plain. Man does not stand still spiritually.
He is ever moving through different states of life. Each state has its specific function to perform in the upbuilding of character. Each state makes different claims on our powers; brings different faculties into operation; nourishes distinctive qualities of life, and strengthens or weakens our spiritual fibre. In each such state, new temptations arise, for it is by the conquest of evil through temptation conflicts that heavenly qualities are born and perfected. Life's journey is a succession : these states, with their several struggles, their varied experiences, their peculiar opportunities and their safeguarding provisions of the Lord.
The "morrow ", considered spiritually, is each succeeding state. However well one state may terminate, whatever it may have meant for us in the building up of angelic character, the new state brings further temptations; situations requiring new powers, new effort, new suffering, possibly new despair.
The Writings of the New Church teach this remarkable doctrine: "The life of every man is foreseen by the Lord, as to how long he will live, and in what manner. From earliest infancy therefore he is directed with regard to a life to eternity. Thus the providence of the Lord commences from earliest infancy". From the golden mists of infancy and childhood to the quickening evening hours of man's decline, he passes through many spiritual " days ". Each new day or state confronts him with a challenge, a duty, and a promised joy. Through each such day the Lord is with him, not primarily to bring material welfare or to remove trial, but to safeguard and nourish and bring to fruition some element of angelhood that may eternally abide. That is why new spiritual days dawn for us, it is why new experiences come, it is why we can never with impunity linger in the lotus fields of spiritual indolence and neglect. The regenerating man comes at length to learn the power and stability and certainty of the Divine Providence. Our past years re-echo with following feet, each of their many days is lit up with some testimony of the Divine Presence. Each darkest hour was never without its Divine provision, its agony was but a birth throe of some new unparalleled joy. In the face of trial, when the path is dark before us, we may pray that the cup may pass from us. But purification and strength and victory come only as we yield to the Will of the Lord. He sees beyond the gloom. He is labouring in His workshop; forging and fashioning the tissues of our angelhood. By trust and confidence in Him, the needs of the hour are supplied, and the comfort and calm of the Divine Presence are felt. Ways, hitherto unseen, open out before the mind's eye. Man comes to realise how little he knows of the laws" of life which he fondly imagined he could master for the purpose of gaining a self-sufficiency. Each new spiritual morrow, with its especial trials faced and suffered and overcome, brings with it its unguessed, undreamt of revelation of Divine Law which lay utterly beyond the rower of our feeble calculation and anticipation. The new need brings its new provision, the fear and despondency of the natural man prove vain and futile, strength sufficient unto the day's own evils has been vouchsafed.
Our service to the Lord is the duty of the present moment. For the trials that lie ahead, there will be sufficient strength given when those trials swing into our ken. We can best prepare for them by present service, by resisting the evil that is here and now, and learning by patience and self-renunciation the nearness and sufficiency of the Lord. Our only concern, in the true sense, is the temptation of the moment and the truth as at present seen. Here is the way to strength and quiet confidence. The Lord has created and He has redeemed. Our path through life therefore is under His all-seeing care. Beyond the morrows of our life, He sees what He would have us be; and for that end He labours with us through all our trials and mistakes, through all our changing circumstances and varying needs. In His Will alone is our eternal peace. Complying with that Will, and joyfully rejecting all that is opposed to it, we move most freely in the current of His Providence, and beckon more assuredly the beatitudes He holds in store.