With the fear and uncertainty generated by the current COVID-19 pandemic, we consider this series by John MacArthur to be even more timely now than when it was first run eight years ago. The following blog post was originally published on November 13, 2012. —ed.
One of the most hopeless aspects of unrepentant sinners’ lives is that they have no answer for anxiety. They’re forced to put their hopes in flimsy, fallible plans and institutions. They aren’t able to rest firmly in the unchanging promises of God—they have to ride out every wave of calamity, every unexpected disaster.
Our relationship with the Lord is one of the best guards we have against descending into crippling anxiety. Because of who our heavenly Father is, we don’t need to worry about finances, the basics of life, and what we eat, drink, and wear. Have we forgotten what He’s like?
If your concept of God is right and you see Him as owner, controller, and provider, and beyond that as your loving Father, then you know you have nothing to worry about. Jesus said, “What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11).
Because of God’s sovereign control and His fatherly love, we can rest assured that He will faithfully provide for His children. In Matthew 6, Jesus illustrates God’s care for us with some observations from nature.
God Always Feeds His Creatures
In Matthew 6:26, Jesus says “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
Let’s consider the birds for a moment. They don’t possess self-consciousness or the ability to strategize or reason. In fact, all they have working for them is their God-given instinct to survive. And incredibly, they do! The Lord doesn’t just create life; He also sustains it. Job 38:41 and Psalm 147:9 tell us that baby birds cry out to God for their food. Jesus tells us that even though they don’t sow or reap or stockpile surplus, their heavenly Father hears and provides for them.
Now that isn’t an excuse for idleness. You won’t see birds standing out on limbs with their mouth open to the sky, waiting for it to rain worms. God feeds them through the instinct that tells them where to find worms. He’s instituted a system that involves their working hard for their sustenance. Birds are always busy searching, gobbling up little insects, preparing their nests, caring for their young, teaching them to fly, pushing them out of the nests at the right time, migrating with the seasons, and so on. All that work is to be done if they’re going to eat—that’s how the Lord sovereignly designed them.
And because of that design, birds don’t worry about where they are going to find food. They just go about their business until they find it, and they always do because God is looking out for them. Birds simply have no reason to worry, and if they don’t, what are you worrying for? Jesus put it this way: “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).
Are you not much better than a bird? No bird was ever created in the image of God. No bird was ever designed to be a joint heir with Jesus Christ. And no bird ever had a place prepared for it in heaven. If God faithfully sustains the life of a bird, don’t you think He can and will take care of you? Life is a gift from God. If God gives you the greater gift of life itself, don’t you think He will give you the lesser gifts needed to sustain that life? Of course He will.
Keep in mind, of course, that like the bird, we have to work because God has designed that man should earn his bread by the sweat of his brow (Genesis 3:19). If we don’t work, it is not fitting that we eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Just as God provides for the birds through their instinct, so He provides for man through his effort.
Tomorrow we’ll look at two more biblical examples from nature of God’s fatherly care.