James 4:13-17, Proverbs 27:1, Acts 18:19-21, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
The older I get, the more I realize how little I know. Each season and event in my life seems to usher me into a world far larger than the world I thought I knew. Certainties give way to questions. Sureties sink under the weight of wonder. I just don’t have the grip on things like I once thought I had.
There is no place this is more evident than when considering the future. When I was young, I was sure of a number of things. I was sure about how I would live, how I would raise my kids, and what my vocation would be. But in reality, so many things go the way we plan, and this fact has a habit of humbling us as the years go by. It’s enough to make us laugh at ourselves when we’re done with the tears.
I read James’s statement—about how we do not know what tomorrow will bring—differently as a 45 year old man than I did as a 25 year old. Back then, I looked sideways at his declaration as harsh and unnecessary. After all, everyone tells others about their plans for the following day when asked. What’s the big deal?
But now I get it. We really have no idea what is coming, though we think we know so much and have so much control. James is helping us recalibrate what is at stake in our arrogance. We not only have the propensity to deny God’s sovereignty over our lives, but we also run the risk of living in fear about what tomorrow will bring.
You see, I am now wise enough to know that I know nothing about what is coming. But I am also prone to worry about that very fact. Worry is just another form of this same arrogance James warns against. I ask myself, “Why are you worried about what is coming? You have no idea what is coming!”
We do not know if the diagnosis will come, the relationship will hold, or the finances will be there. But we do know one thing about tomorrow: we know that Christ will be our certain hope. The hope of the gospel is not like the unstable hope this world offers, where we can only wish for what we want to happen. Our hope in the grace and mercy and steadfast love of God is as certain as the finished work of Christ.
The great error in arrogantly thinking we know what tomorrow will bring is that it places our trust in ourselves and our circumstances, rather than in Christ alone. If I am sure about what tomorrow will bring, then not only am I not submitting to God’s sovereignty over all things, but I am also prone to question God’s goodness when tomorrow becomes a place a fear, or doesn’t pan out like I hoped.
The gospel mercifully humbles us in the face of God’s will and gives us confidence in the face of the unknown tomorrows before us—all of them.
Written by Matthew B. Redmond