We live in a world full of uncertainty. Millions have invested or paid into pension funds for years in order to secure their retirement years, only to lose some or all of it in stock market crashes or bankrupt pension funds. They were sure they would be provided for, then they weren’t. Cancer patients are told they are in remission, only to discover that their disease has returned. They were assured they were cured, but they weren’t. University students expect to get a job in their field after graduation, only to find no such jobs exist. They were sure their education would lead to a career, but it didn’t.
This brief view of life is not intended to be pessimistic – and indeed, prospects for retirement, medical care, and employment opportunities are significantly better in America than in most of the world. What I am highlighting is that uncertainty is part of life. We have started a new year, perhaps filled with hope and optimism, but so much can change in the coming months. Insurance companies assure us they will provide for us in need, but their promises are often much better than their provision! Despite our efforts to be secure and sure about our lives, it remains elusive.
The Apostle James recognized our desire for security, and the futility of seeking it in this life. He wrote,
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away (James 4.13-14).
How true that is. We are one week into 2020, and what do we see? A devastating earthquake has hit Puerto Rico. Bushfires are ravaging Australia. There is open conflict in the Persian Gulf, and no one knows where it will lead. The only thing certain in this world is uncertainty! To borrow Francis Schaeffer’s fundamental question, How should we then live?
The answer is to build our lives on what is sure, not that which is uncertain. So what is certain? The answer of Scripture seems positively counterintuitive:
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever (2 Cor. 4.18, NLT).
Jesus once encountered a man who trusted in money to secure his future. He replied by telling the story of a farmer who became rich, and thought he was secure for life. “Eat, drink, and be merry!” the farmer said. But God said, “You fool! Tonight your life is required of you!” Jesus then gave the moral of the story: “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12.13-21).
Right now, we cannot see beyond this life, but that which we cannot see is ‘sure’ – it is eternal! 1 John 5.12-13 reminds us that we who believe in Jesus have eternal life. That future reality is ours, and it is as secure as God’s promise. And the God who has secured our eternal future, is the same God we can trust every day.
Jesus’ reminds us in his Sermon on the Mount not to be worried about our lives, but instead to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [the needs of this life] will be added unto you” (see Matt 6.25-34). In other words, focus on what is sure; live for that future day. In a world full of uncertainty, you can be certain of God’s blessing when you live your life for Him.