What About the Future?

It is very human and natural to be concerned about the future. Especially at times like this, when a world economic recession looms on the horizon, many are concerned about losing their homes and jobs. Others fear not having enough to eat or a place to stay.

It does not matter how hard we try, fear, concern and doubt attacks almost all of us. For some the concern is motivated by purely selfish and materialistic desires for luxury and comfort. But for many others, the worries are about realities like food, clothing and housing. For others in oppressive countries and violent societies the fears are even more basic – persecution, torture, imprisonment and even death. We know that Jesus said we should not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34) and yet, we don’t seem to be able to stop ourselves from worrying.

Those who are secure in their materialistic little world often look down on others who are less fortunate and who are deeply concerned about the future. But the fears of those whose future is uncertain are not to be scoffed at, those fears and concerns are real and powerful and can become all-consuming for those whose futures are uncertain. I can understand why many flee to fortune tellers, the horoscope, and mediums for some kind of consolation and for a glimpse into the future. Christians flock to Christian fortune tellers who set themselves up as “prophets” and who claim to be able to predict the future.

But God chooses not to reveal the future to us, except in very rare and exceptional cases. He does so for three very important reasons: The first is that He wants us to live in the present and to use this day for the purpose He gave it, rather than trying to live in the future. The Bible’s many references to “today” confirm this (2Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:7, 13, 15 etc.).

The second is that we often would disobey Him if we knew beforehand what problems, challenges and pain we would have to endure. I know some feel that is a very pessimistic way of looking at things. But did He not say that those who live godly lives will suffer persecution? (2Timothy 3:12). And was hardship not the lot of most of the godly people in the Old Testament? (Hebrews 11:36-39). In fact just name one great man of God in the whole Bible whose life on earth was idyllic!

So if anything about the future can be know, then it is this: That things will probably be hard. I know that is not much comfort for those who find themselves between a rock and a hard place. But with that truth also comes the truth that He will never leave nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). And he will not test us beyond what we are able to bear, but that He will indeed provide a way of escape with the testing so that we can bear the trial (1Corinthians 10:13). And that He will work all things for our good (Romans 8:28). On top of these there are dozens more scriptures that promise that He will bring us through these things and that He will turn the bad around for our good (Genesis 50:20).

The third reason God does not reveal the future, is because He wants us to learn to trust Him and to walk holding His hand. If we have it all worked out, like the world thinks they have, then we have no need for Him and we become self-sufficient and arrogant. I have often watched toddlers running around laughing but the moment danger looms, or they fall, they immediately look for, and flee to their parent. As long as everything was smooth and easy, they seem to even forget about the parent so when the parent puts their arms out for the child, it runs away. But everything changes, the moment a problem crops up. Suddenly they want the arms they had just rejected.

It would be far better if we never let go of God’s hand, but in our pride we often do, thinking we can get along fine with Him just in the background or even without Him at all. Thus the future is often dark so that we would remain close to Him and walk every step in humble submission and dependence on Him. It is only close to Him that we can hear His voice, feel the warmth of His embrace and lean upon the everlasting arms. Because He loves us, He desires to be close to us, but we are independent and often forget Him. And so, the only way He seems to be able to keep us in His loving embrace is by not revealing the future to us.

But the future is not entirely unknown. There are many things about the future that He has revealed to us. However, we often reject what He has revealed about the future and want to know the parts He has chosen to keep under wraps. For example what we do know is that no one can snatch us out of His hand and that we are absolutely safe and secure in Him (John 10:28). We also know that nothing will separate us from His love (Romans 8:39). He has also given us an entire book – Revelation to assure us that the Devil and the wicked will not prevail, but that He, and the saints, will be victorious in the end.

We also know that no matter how hard things may be, or may become, the problems will come to an end. “His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life;  Weeping may endure for a night,  But joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Paul knew all about how hard things can be and the future was always uncertain for him. For several years he lived waiting for the executioner’s axe. Yet, he assures us that all this is but “a moment”. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2Corinthians 4:17).

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2Corinthians 4:16-5:1).