Roman Roads: Yesterday’s Problems


Read: Matthew 6:25-34

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today (Matthew 6:34, NRSV).

“Yesterday’s problems are today’s luxuries.”

This is what I said to my husband as we tried to digest the news of Italy’s latest restriction to combat the coronavirus. We were sitting across the breakfast table in our tiny apartment in Rome. It was early March, and each day brought some new regulation designed to stop the spread of the virus.

We had arrived in Italy on New Year’s Day, 2020. COVID-19 had arrived a couple of weeks later, although it was not detected until January 29. By late February the effects of the virus and the attendant restrictions on daily life were being felt in Rome. At first we tried to look on the bright side. We didn’t have to fight for side-walk space because the tourists were not nearly as thick on the ground. We could walk into most of our favorite restaurants without a reservation. Nervous store owners gave us a “corona discount.”

But as we talked with friends in Milan, we quickly realized that we were lucky to find anything close to a “bright side” for this virus. The news was deadly serious. At this writing (March 15), 21,157 people have been stricken with the virus here in Italy; 1441 have died.

Jesus wasn’t kidding when he said that tomorrow would “bring worries of its own.” One wonders how we are supposed to avoid worrying about them, however.

Which brings us back to that conversation over breakfast: Yesterday’s problems are today’s luxuries.

Have you ever worried about something, only to have something much worse overtake you the next day? In retrospect, you realize that you’d give a lot to have yesterday’s problems.

I’m still working on not worrying about tomorrow. But I have realized that Jesus was on to something when he reminded us that “today’s trouble is enough for today.”

So, this morning as I walked past the Pantheon on my way to the grocery store, I decided not to waste time worrying about what tomorrow would bring. Today it is enough to wonder whether a policeman will stop me and ask to see my written permit to be outside. Today I will pray for my friends and family half a world away as they try to come to terms with their own “national emergency.” Today I will walk past the street sign that says, “Via Panico” (Panic Street) and say, “No. I won’t panic. Because whether I live or whether I die, I am the Lord’s. And besides, today’s trouble is sufficient for today.”

Ponder: What are you learning from your experience of COVID-19? How do Paul’s words about “whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” in Romans 14:8 help you face today? Tomorrow?


Healer of our every ill,

light of each tomorrow,

give us strength beyond our fear

and hope beyond all sorrow.


This is the refrain from a beautiful piece by Marty Haugen. Listen to a musical setting of it here: Healer of Our Every Ill




Introduction to the Roman Roads Series

As many of you know, I am spending my sabbatical in Rome, Italy. Thanks to the coronavirus, it is turning out to be something less than a “Roman Holiday.” While a pandemic was not part of my original itinerary, it does lend a unique perspective to my writing these days. I offer these reflections along with my prayers for the health and safety of our world. May God bless and keep you all!