What We Can Know About the Future (and What We Can’t)

Do you ever try to Google your future? Seriously. Do you ever sit down at your computer and stare at the search bar as it taunts you with its flashing cursor? Honestly, that cursor seems a bit smug to me at times; as though she knows secrets she’s refusing to spill. Hoping I wasn’t the only one who felt tempted to use Google like a Magic 8 ball, I did some very scientific research into what other people have consulted it for. Here’s what I found after typing a few words:

What should I….

  • …eat for dinner?
  • …major in?
  • …do with my life?

Where should I…

  • …live?
  • …move?
  • …go to college?

When will I…

  • …die?
  • …meet my soulmate?
  • …get married?

People all over are searching for answers on how to live their future lives. We live in a world where we never have to wait and hardly have to research anything. A quick tap on the keyboard or a, “Hey Google….” gives us real-time answers to questions that could once only be found by consulting outdated encyclopedias and the Dewey Decimal system. (Sometimes that required waiting until – gasp! – the library opened and your mom could drive you there.) We are uncomfortable not having answers in an age where so much information is available at our fingertips – literally.

The inconvenient truth, though, is that we really know nothing about what the future holds. We make plans, educated assumptions, and responsibly schedule and save, but our control over tomorrow is entirely limited, at best. Regardless of how many technological advances are made, this will remain a constant – tomorrow is wholly unknown.

James knew this when he said, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

When you read those verses, what feelings come to the surface? As someone who likes to control things, they make me a tad uneasy, #tbh (as the kids say). In times where my future has felt uncertain, I have clung to a million different scenarios and what-ifs as though in doing so I can at least reduce the surprise factor of what may happen next. My emotions will not be caught off guard because I’ve already lived out every possible outcome in my mind, #thankyouverymuch. This, of course, produces absolutely nothing of value.

In anxious times, we have a tendency to cling to the “what-ifs” of an unknown future when what we really need to be clinging to is God Himself.

We don’t know tomorrow….but God does. (James 4:13-15)

We can’t see how this or that situation will turn out…but God sees. (Luke 8:40-56, and many other of Jesus’ miracles)

We want to see the whole journey before it begins….but we are asked to trust a good God instead. (John 21:22)

We strive for the path of least resistance…but God leads us into an adventure that is for His glory and His kingdom, not ours. (The book of Esther is a perfect example of this.)

We do ourselves and our faith a disservice when we fixate on an unknown tomorrow rather than holding fast to a known God. I get it, trust me. It’s nearly impossible not to worry about the future sometimes. In fact, I feel like a hypocrite even writing this because if you know me in real life, you know I tend toward worry. It’s a battle I fight, and maybe you do too. And it’s freaking hard. But you and I? We are good at doing the hard things. I know this because we’ve made it this far in a world that is uncertain, unpredictable, and often heartbreaking.

It won’t be easy. We will have to make up our minds to stay in the present (as my friend Self Care Bestie is always reminding me), but the hard work is worth it. Also, Jesus sort of commands it. Okay, he definitely does. In Matthew, he says, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

We don’t have to worry and spend our mental energy on the what-ifs of the future because the One who actually knows what is coming has it all under control. Today, let’s simply be with him, immerse ourselves in his Word, and let him work in us the fruit we will need for whatever comes our way tomorrow. I’m in this with you! Love to you, friends!

 

*Stay tuned next week for Praying Scripture Through Seasons of Worry*

what we can know about the future

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