Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Consider the pair of contrasts below.
On dealing with trouble:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Jesus, Matthew 6:34, NIV)
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” (SunTzu, The Art of War)
On gathering provisions:
Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. (Exodus 16:21)
The two most powerful warriors are patience and time. (Leo Tolstoy)
What prompts today’s thoughts is the seeming counter-intuitive words of advice from God’s Word about preparing and providing for trouble that both indicate it’s more of a day-by-day approach.
Wordly wisdom regarding strategic planning, however, requires “the long view,” i.e., “an approach to a problem or situation that emphasizes long-range factors” (source).
But God’s Word also, in many places, recounts stories in which long-term planning as well as patience are both advised and required; indeed, patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. The narrative of Nehemiah’s wall-rebuilding project, where the planning stage took twice as long as the actual work* is a good example.
So there is clearly something else to be learned, gleaned, from the “one day” approach.
Here’s my takeaway:
- Sometimes, one day (or hour or minute) is “all ya got” to fight or flee.
- Sometimes, it only takes a day (or hour or minute) to quell the conflict.
- Sometimes you may not have a clue in the world regarding how to respond to those sneaky surprise attacks or sudden, puzzling situations; however, the prompting of the Holy Spirit, whether in a “still, small voice,” or a “sudden thunder” will direct your spiritually prepared, and practiced mind and heart**.
“Prepared and practiced mind and heart?”
Just as in wordly battles where Sun Tzu’s advice to “know your enemy” enables you to discern exactly how to proceed, now, with clarity and speed, it is important to know the ways and whims of your real enemy and his minions, too.
Most importantly, however, it is important to know–and obey–God, the original Commander in Chief.
I am reminded here of a good example of knowledge and obedience.
The story goes that the Navy ship hands were so trained to immmediately obey the voice of the ship’s captain that when a thick, steel cable snapped loose and began to whiplash its way across the surface of the deck and the captain yelled the command to “hit the deck,” many lives were saved.
With the aid of the Holy Spirit within us through salvation and follow-up study and practice, we can also know what to do, immediately (also longer term, whichever the case might be), when something of an evil nature “snaps loose” and heads for us even if we are not yet aware of it.
As to the provision “sufficient for the day,” think not only of the manna in the desert but also, say, the miracle of the loaves and fishes: from a basket of five loaves and two fishes, Jesus fed 5,000. That day.
We can’t always be as prepared as we need to be, but God knows what is required, and neither His supply nor His “means of delivery” are limited.
And here are two more “words of wisdom” from the Word of God on why we can trust our spiritual CIC, whether dealing with short or long-term trouble, whether in need of immediate or extended provisions. They hinge on the gift of salvation and provision through His Son, Jesus Christ, Who is “the way and the truth and the life” and through Whom “all things came into being“:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
In the meantime–and before, during and after–whatever battle or need presents itself, today or any day, be encouraged:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:19)
*From a discussion on this strategy of Nehemiah’s, along with three other strategies: “It has always been of interest to me that Nehemiah took approximately twice as long to plan the project as the actual re-building took to complete…”