What are you going to do tomorrow?
Are you sure?
Generally speaking, we all probably have a pretty good idea what tomorrow will look like. We have our routines, we make our plans, and experience tells us that we can expect tomorrow to be pretty much what we expect it to be. Granted, there are always exceptions. Every day has its own set of variables but in the big picture these tend to also be within the realm of the expected. Seldom is the unexpected REALLY unexpected.
We should be thankful for that. Imagine the chaos and stress if every day was radically different from anything we had previously experienced. Imagine if there were no stability, no routine, no continuity from one day to the next.
This (seeming) predictability lulls us into a false sense of security. It is easy to believe that every day will be like the day before. And soon every year will be like the year before. And every decade like the one before. And life will roll along.
And then something happens to upset the routine. History is full of these events. Despite the regularity of disruption, we always seem to be shocked. Economic collapse, war, natural disasters - all these things happen with unpredictable regularity. We don’t know when, but we do know they will happen.
Lest you think I’m a gloomy Gus this morning, let’s bring another perspective to these things. Every morning we face a day of unknowns. If we lived only moment-to-moment that could be a terrifying thought. Stuff happens. The stories of God’s people recorded for us in Scripture is brutally honest - they too had their highs and their lows. The only difference is some came to understand the hand of God in those times. Sadly, others did not.
So, we find ourselves in a dilemma. On one hand, life is (thankfully) marked by routine. On the other, the unknown and unexpected are always looming. They can present themselves at any time disrupting the very fabric and foundations of our lives. How do we cope with this tension?
Words Matter: Purpose
There are 3 truths that provide context and perspective for living with this uncertainty. We need not sacrifice our sense of security and be undercut by fear. Nor do we need to obsess about gaining control over our lives by any means possible.
Truth #1 - God is gracious. He established our reality on predictable cycles because He Himself is faithful. Whether it is the mega-cycles of the planets, stars, sun, and moon, or the regularity of the seasons of the year, or the dependability of our lungs to take in oxygen day after day, God’s created order is based on patterns and cycles. This is an expression of His grace. This doesn’t mean the patterns are unbreakable. It does mean we can have confidence in that natural cycles of life because they are sourced in God’s own faithfulness.
Truth #2 - There is always purpose. Life is not a sequence of connected acts of randomness. We are not victims of naturalistic determinism. “What will be will be” is not a Christian thought. Long before any of creation existed God determined the nature and purposes of every event in the reality He would create. This is why we have the stories of “failure” - Abraham, Joseph, Esther, Daniel, Saul/Paul, Peter - men and women whose lives went down some pretty dark paths until God demonstrated His greater purposes and we see the redemptive impact of their struggle. (I have always wondered how Paul “got over” his murderous past to become the preeminent Apostle of the New Testament. If God can redeem his moments in history . . .)
Truth #3 - Some things never change. While the cyclical predictability of Truth #1 is frequently disrupted, the underlying foundation of God’s faithfulness and God’s purposes is unchanged. Unexpected, unwanted, and unknown events will always happen. But they are only unexpected, unwanted, and unknown to us. God is never taken by surprise.
I suspect most of us affirm these truths. And I suspect all of us also struggle to embrace them, especially when we are in the middle of the unexpected, unwanted, and unknown. So, let’s fill our minds with these reminders of truth:
“. . . you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (Joseph to his brothers after saving them from the famine - Gen. 50:20)
“You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according to Your word . . . You are good and do good. Teach me Your statutes.” (Psa. 119: 65, 68)
“. . . according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11)
“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col 1:16-17)
“Consider the work of God, For who is able to straighten what He has bent? In the day of prosperity be happy, But in the day of adversity consider-- God has made the one as well as the other So that man will not discover anything that will be after him.” (Solomon, on reasons why we should revere God - Ecc 7:13-14)
And there are many, many more.
So how do we survive the unknown? The transformation of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2) takes place by the Spirit of God using the Word of God to change our thoughts and perspective as we learn to walk with God. It is helpful to write out these verses on a 3x5 card and refer to them a zillion times a day. As these thoughts transform and fill our minds then also our understanding of what is happening around us, our source of security, and the focus of our hope for the future will change.
This is something we should do today. Don't wait for tomorrow. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?