We hear it a lot: “One day at a time.” It may sound trite, but it can also be one of the most helpful things for those who struggle to live in today, like me. I am torn up with guilt for the past and suspended in anxiety for the future, and I suspect this is territory in which many of us with scrupulosity find ourselves.
Jesus doesn’t teach us to pray like this: “Give us this day all the bread we’ll need for the rest of our lives.” That would be convenient! Then I wouldn’t have to keep worrying, living in this uncertainty, or putting up with the anxiety in my life. Instead, I could bank my hopes on this security, this storehouse of food, so I could carefully calculate what I’ll need and plan accordingly.
Instead, Jesus says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s a way of acknowledging that we must “take one day at a time” because we cannot do otherwise. This reflects not only the wisest path forward with scrupulosity, but also the entire life of a Christian. Sure, we can look ahead and make plans, but at the end of the day, we need to daily depend on the Lord.
Manna in the Wilderness
Apparently the Israelites didn’t like this idea either. Along with his bountiful provision of daily food from heaven, God had one stipulation: do not take more than what you need for that day. But the Israelites didn’t listen. They gathered more than enough and tried to save some for the next day. Why? Because they doubted God’s kindness and provision. They took their care into their own hands because they didn’t believe anybody outside themselves would provide, so they gathered more than enough manna in their distrust of God. Just in case he was going to go back on his word, they had to be prepared.
I’m the same way. I know I need a daily dependence on and turning to God like manna, yet I want a storehouse of provision so I can take care of myself from now on. I want certainty, I want to know, I don’t just want to “have faith.” Practically speaking, in my struggle for assurance, I tell God I’d be able to trust him more if he just gave me assurance of salvation, like I’ve been asking for years. But really, I want long-lasting certainty so I don’t have to live day by day.
I doubt the Lord’s promise to take care of me. I doubt his willingness and eagerness to do so. I use what I know about my circumstances to determine how the Lord views me, concluding that my lack of assurance and the presence of scrupulosity must mean he is unkind or has finally given up on me. Ultimately I doubt what he says about himself, that he is gracious and merciful; I assume he’s stingy and demanding toward me.
In the end, we can’t bank our hopes on the provisions, but must put all of our hope in our Provider.
New Every Morning
The Israelites ate manna for 40 years! They gathered it “morning by morning” (Exodus 16:21) for four long decades. In the same way, the Lord doesn’t give a lifetime supply of mercy, but his mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). The Lord calls me to walk day by day, because I am safe in the Shepherd’s hands. He doesn’t leave me on my own to fend for myself, but he promises to provide in all things, not with a lifetime supply but with daily sustenance. And this reveals who he is: gracious and merciful, not stingy and demanding. True, he doesn’t promise certainty, but he does promise something better—himself.
Honestly, if I had assurance of salvation, I’m not sure I would be going to the Lord quite so much as I am. It’s hard to see my actions day by day as faith, when it feels more like struggling through the dark. And yet, if I sat in complete light and confidence, I don’t know if I personally would care to seek the Lord out. It’s in the midst of feeling so insecure in my situation that I am driven toward him.
This feels overwhelming; my “what ifs” aren’t easily quelled. How can I live in today when I feel storm-tossed, burdened, and doubtful? How can I live in today when these obsessions won’t relent? How can I go to Christ when this struggle seems to make the way to him so much more complicated than even he makes it? It’s so hard to trust God, especially when scrupulosity cuts you off at your knees, attacking your very faith. There are no simplistic answers.
But with provision for each day’s needs, Christ offers an invitation. At every turn, as each day brings the thoughts and ramps up the anxiety, the remedy is the same: turn to Jesus. Thank the Lord that his call is always the same, new every morning: “Come to me.”
All I can say in response is, “To whom else shall I go?”