God is too loving to be unkind and too wise to make a mistake. We can trust him even in the dark times. If we do not know what tomorrow holds, that is OK, because we know and love the one who does. And again, that should be very reassuring and comforting, on the most practical of levels.
In this piece I want to discuss both theological and pastoral aspects to how we believers are to live in the light of the God that we serve. Our God is an infinite, eternal God who is not caught by surprise at what happens. But we are finite, time-bound creatures who can only take one day at a time.
You and I live in time and we cannot fully know the future. But we do have Scripture telling us in broad-brush strokes – as well as in some detail – what the future will be like. There is a big difference between knowing a bit about the end from the beginning and knowing the One who does know the end from the beginning. While we may not know what tomorrow holds, we serve a God who does.
For finite Christians, there is always some uncertainty, apprehension and even fear in what is coming next, both in big matters and little matters. As for the big picture, while we know that one day Christ will return, we may not know how bad things will get first, say in Australia or the West. We may not know if the threat of Putin to engage in nuclear war will materialise in the coming days. We do not know who will win the next American presidential election, and so on.
And on a smaller scale, we do not know all sorts of things. Will I still have my job tomorrow? Will my kids one day accept Christ? Will my friend’s marriage last? Will I make it through this bout of cancer? If successfully treated, will the cancer come back some other time? Will I ever see an overseas loved one again? There are zillions of variables and possibilities in our own lives that we just do not know about and how they will transpire.
So we need faith and confidence in a God who does know about all these things. Let me here use a sporting analogy, then look at a bit of theology, and then try to make a practical conclusion to all this. As to the analogy, I often think about some great sporting event, whether a World Series, or a Grand Slam tennis final, or an AFL Grand Final.
If you happen to strongly support an individual or a team, and you watch the event live – either in person or on the television – it can be a real rough experience. The more emotionally committed you are to the team or player, the more nervous you will be and the more on the edge of your seat you will be. Will he or she win? Will my team prevail?
Let me at this point get a bit personal. I just went through this a few days ago, as have many others. As some of you might know, I am probably 95 per cent cerebral, and perhaps 5 per cent emotional. Not much gets me very stirred up emotionally. But since coming down under I have managed to end up supporting, somewhat passionately, one AFL team.
And as many will know, Saturday the Geelong Cats played in a Grand Final. Given the bad luck they have had over the past decade with finals footy, fans would rightly have been a bit worried. I was, so it was with some fear and trepidation that I sat down to watch the match.
I must have had a bit of emotional investment in the game, because even my stomach was feeling a bit churned up at the start. By halftime things were looking a bit more reassuring, and by the middle of the third quarter we knew it was going to be a big win, so we could then relax and enjoy the rest of the game.
And it was a big win indeed – go Cats. And for die-hard fans, the game is usually replayed the next day. So I watched it a second time – but minus all the angst and anxiety. Because I knew exactly how the game would end, I could sit back and enjoy it from the opening bounce. It was quite different viewing than how it was the day before.
But imagine if a game is much tighter and closer, where the winner is not known until the closing seconds of the game.