I sometimes worry about the future.
I could try and temper my language and say instead that I am merely ‘concerned’ about future events, but that wouldn’t be entirely truthful. I worry. I fret. I get anxious.
The subject of worry comes up quite a bit in the Bible (see Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:6). This tells me that I’m not alone. Maybe you are prone to worry as well.
For some people, worry is paralyzing. For fear of mistepping, some people do nothing. They isolate themselves. They seldom venture out. They stay close to shore.
For others, worry prompts activity. Because we have imagined an outcome that frightens us, some of us move in such a way as to actively prevent this feared outcome. In other words, we try and take control.
The principles of cause and effect are alive and well, and I do believe we possess the ability to impact outcomes. I do reckon that we have some control over some things. However, I think it would be a mistake to imagine that we have ultimate control. I think we err if we imagine that everything depends entirely upon us.
As I survey the Scriptures, I see that God has the ability, and sometimes the willingness, to trump the human will. Track the life of Joseph, Jonah, and Paul and you’ll quickly see what I mean. The Book of Proverbs also provides some bite-sized pieces of this reality:
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. (Prov. 16:9)
Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Prov. 19:21)
This notion that an all-powerful, sovereign God, who does as He pleases might alarm us if we didn’t also learn that this God is for His people. This doesn’t mean that followers of Jesus never experience hardship. But it does mean that everything that we might call ‘bad’, everything we might call ‘suffering’, is being carefully managed by a God who is committed to promoting our good and His glory (see Romans 8:28).
I can’t control the future…and I regard that to be a good thing. My future lies with Jesus Christ, and I rejoice in that!
If you’re interested in hearing more about how the human will interacts with a sovereign God, I encourage you to have a listen to the message I delivered this past Sunday at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well.
I’d love to hear what your take on this is.