The future lies dark before us – or?
Unbelievably, but true, we are once again standing on the threshold of a new year. Changing from one year to the next brings sentimental thoughts with it. It is not only about how fast the time goes, which we are all aware of, but also about questions that concern the future, the “unknown” future. What we have experienced in the past we know – what we possess we know – but the future is unknown to us, and we are unable to change any of that. We are helpless to do anything about that which lies in the future. We are striding towards it, but we are unaware what to expect. No wonder we are somewhat hesitant as we again stand on the threshold of the New Year.
Justifiably, New Year’s speeches often begin with the words: “The future lies dark before us.” I have heard these words from politicians, heard them in the news, read them in the newspapers, and even now and again, these words were at the beginning of a sermon. Pessimists, particularly, are often plagued by these words. Concerning the future, they see things as “black.”
The fact is that our present situation is not “rosy.” If one assesses the political, economic, financial, and moral circumstances, negative feelings may arise. The longer one occupies themselves with these feelings and discusses them with others as to what the future may bring, fear naturally engulfs us. This fear then becomes our constant companion on life’s pathway. How easy it is to let oneself become connected with this fear throughout our life. In the morning, we arise with it, and at night, we go to bed with it. This fear becomes one of life’s realities.
Are we aware that such situations existed throughout all times? Fear is nothing new. Fear made the lives of people that lived before us difficult. May I point out to you a few situations from the Bible in which fear assuredly played a major role?
•Joshua sent out 12 spies to assess Canaan (Numbers 13), the land that lay before them. Ten of the men said that, compared to the giants in that land, they themselves were like grasshoppers. Not only did they have these fears, the total Israeli population became affected by this fear.
•As the Philistines prepared for war against Israel and Goliath, a giant, stepped forward and mocked God’s people and challenged them to a duel, we read “…they were dismayed and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:11).
•When the Apostle Paul was on a boat journey to Rome, they encountered what appeared to be a hopeless storm. Luke describes the situation as follows: “Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up” (Acts 27:20).
One could list more people and situations from the Bible, but what is important for us are our own fears. We do not invite them in, and we do not want to be burdened by them, but they are present and make our lives difficult.
Fears of the future – those words define everything. Present political situations appear tentative. Memories of past wars arise. Are the politicians contemplating another war? Have past wars not brought enough suffering? The question then arises of the taking in of refugees to Europe as well as North America. Will these actions bring positive results? One hopes – even though many question marks exist – that the politicians know what they are doing. More questions could be asked.
Of course, the personal fears are more oppressive. The question arises: “How will I personally survive in the future?” Surely you are aware of these questions that are asked everywhere: “As I age, I become more dependent on outside help. Will this lead to me having to give up my home, my garden, and eventually my car? And where will I find this help and a place to spend the last years of my life?” Here again, the list of questions may become endless. Eventually, one reaches the point at which one hears oneself say: “The future before us is dark!” Then the worsening fears begin to arise.
On one occasion, when I saw the future before me as “dark,” I saw a book that became a great help to me. It touched me, even though I had not read even one page in it and did not know the thoughts of the author, nor his ideas. It was the title of the book – only five simple words – “Regardless, God is still there.” I stood there as if struck by lightning. Naturally, if one does not include God in one’s calculations of the future, the future becomes “dark” before us. However, as I read those five words, “Regardless, God is still there,” my situation suddenly changed. These five words changed my outlook and gave me new courage.
“Regardless, God is still there” is a calming thought. The darkness of the situation loses its power and strength. The great, strong, omniscient, all-knowing, and far-seeing God still holds the world (and us) in His hands. Nothing happens to us that first does not pass by Him. God does not always change every situation, but He is there. God tolerates some things and lets other things happen, but He is always there. Sometimes God is silent, but He is present! A few instances from the Bible that support these thoughts are:
•Joseph was thrown into jail even though he was not guilty, but God was there!
•Israel feared Goliath, but God was there (with David)!
•Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were thrown into a fiery furnace, but God was there!
•Paul and Silas were thrown into jail in Philippi, but God was there!
•John was banished to the Island of Patmos, but God was there!
•Stephen was stoned, but God was there!
•__________________ (your situation), but God is there!
Brother and Sister, God did not promise us sunshine every day, but His grace. God did not promise to take away all our burdens, but He did promise to help us carry them. God is there.
Hebrews 13:5 states: “…For He Himself has said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” In the original Greek, there is a five-layered negative and, if translated word for word, states: “I will not leave you in a lurch! Never! No! Never and in no case would I forsake you.” No wonder that the next verse (6) states: “… So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”
On the threshold of the New Year, we can confidently join in and say: “The Lord is my helper,” and there is no need for me to fear. Even in the greatest darkness, in the most complicated situation, yes, in all situations, we can depend on His presence.
I never did buy the aforementioned book, but I did remember its title. I have typed and printed this title and have fastened it to my desk. When my heart threatens to become heavy, I turn around, and my eyes see the piece of paper with the words: “Regardless, God is still there!” Remembering this then changes my focus. Maybe you can do this as well.
I wish you a blessed and bright new year. Do not fear, God is there.