“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.
Today’s trouble is enough for today.” —Jesus
There’s something to be said for getting ready, planning ahead, and preparing for the future. Many I know are currently engaged in scenario planning, playing out how reopening their enterprise might look, given various possible outcomes in the coronavirus pandemic. For our congregation, we’re keeping up with state and local mandates, improving our on-site internet connectivity for live-streaming, and reading widely about best practices in the “new normal.”
That said, what I’d like to reflect on here is wisdom that runs in the other direction. This begins with the idea that when you’re in the toughest of times, it can be wise to focus on what is right in front of you.
There’s a saying from marathoning that is apt here: Run the mile you’re in. A marathon is 26.2 miles, which is almost exactly the distance from our church building to the Ventura County Government building, where many of us have done Jury Duty service. An average marathoner will take between 4.5 and 5 hours to complete these miles, which can be an awfully long time to think. “I feel like this and it’s only mile 8?” “How big can a blister get?” “What kind of fool would do this more than once?”
Running the mile you’re in helps keep you focused on what’s right in front of you: The 8-year-old girl holding a sign who reminds you of your daughter. The family handing out orange slices from their front yard. The guy in front of you with the shirt that reads, “Over fifty. Overweight. Ahead of you.” The group of running Elvises that just cruised by. The tribute band that’s playing your favorite U2 song. The guy at mile 25 dressed up as Jesus with a placard declaring “The End is Near.”
Sometimes, it’s neither possible nor advisable to try to contemplate the future all at once. Particularly in difficult times, it will feel overwhelming to imagine more-of-the-same for a month or a year or more. Best to run the mile you’re in. To take the next step. To see the good that’s right in front of you. Jesus said, “Today’s trouble is enough for today.” There’s some wisdom for all of us.