An hour from now I may lose my life wrestling with an escaped bear. I know, it sounds unlikely (I’d win for starters), but bear with me in my point. As human beings we experience the now and can remember (to some degree) the past but we are always blind to the future. After all, the future is very resistant to prediction. The twists and turns of our lives make complex patterns that we can never fully follow, predict or anticipate. For Christians, as we deal with the ups and downs of life, we face an added layer of struggle which is the battle between sight and faith.
We all know this fight well. Something bad happens and sight, that is our immediate experience of the event, says: “I can see no good in this.” while faith quotes Romans 8 v 28 and says: “ALL THINGS FOR GOOD!” Faith being unnatural to us, we will by default place greater store on sight. It is an interesting condition: being limited finite creatures unable to see how the future will pan out, we place greater trust in our own limitations than we do in God. Oh the folly of unbelief!
For what we are prone to forgetting is that faith is always the wisest option, it presents to us the most accurate picture of what is going on, it presents to us certainty while sight presents to us mere predictions of uncertainty.
In the book of Hebrews faith is described in the following way: ““Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is a sure and certain thing! While sight is not so sure and most definitely not certain.
To give some context for this question I’m going to graduate in nine months and I have no idea where I’ll be afterwards. And I find it hard to hope in a ‘good’ future and though I might ask myself: well, what’s the worst that could happen? the problem is that my active imagination is very good at telling me a dozen different scenarios each as ‘worst’ as the next one. For example, when it comes to graduating and getting a job then one potential outcome is unemployment, applying everywhere and getting nowhere and ending up in some job in retail. And it’s no use telling me that it might not happen because I know that it might.
And you can’t tell me either: God is in control of everything, he loves you, it will not happen because again that’s a lie. Sure, the first two statements are true but trying telling a Christian who has suffered the death of a loved one that the worst will not happen.
It’s like the command: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged; for the Lord your God will go with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1v9) This is one of my all-time favourite bible verses yet, as I found out the hard way, it doesn’t promise success.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
2 Corinthians 4 v 17
Often when reading verses like the above it is easy to imagine that it cannot apply to our own lives. Our troubles rarely seem light and momentary, usually our troubles are burdens and afflictions that weigh on our hearts and prey on our minds. We take our trouble to God but seem to find no peace, deliverance, relief or answer. God seems absent and our troubles grow heavier. In fact, we see this very feeling earlier on in the Second Letter to the Corinthians when Paul writes:
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.”
2 Corinthians 1 v 8
Oh no! Not another religious, mystic, mumbo jumbo statement! Not another seeming contradiction, not another senseless combination of words, you might as well say: ‘when I am fat, then I am thin’ or ‘when I am black’, then I am white’ or juxtapose any two opposites and pass it off as ‘wisdom’.
At the very least the above highlights the dangers of quoting a passage of the Bible out of context. So let’s just get some…
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he writes:
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12 v 7 – 10
Why the prospect of global warming worries me as much as nuclear Armageddon, an asteroid strike or the Large Hadron Collider. That is: not at all.
Forty years ago it was a very real danger that nuclear Armageddon was just a button press away. Twenty years ago and we were all going to die in an ice age. Over the last decade we’re all doing to die because of global warming. In the last year it was the turn of the LHC to become the next doom of mankind where it was going to create a black hole that would wipe the earth out of existence.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the Western World is obsessed with the apocalypse – the end of everything.
And the thing is some of the dangers are or were real and present: the prospect of a nuclear war between Russia and the USA was a reasonable possibility. Indeed, with the news coming out of Korea and Iran then it looks like nuclear war may be back on the agenda. An asteroid strike would require slightly more bad luck but it is a possibility rather than impossibility. Fortunately global warming is as about as scientific as the earth being flat.
“Worry is the state of engaging in chains of thoughts and images of a negative and an uncontrollable nature in which mental attempts are made to avoid anticipated potential threats.” (Wikipedia)
I worry, you worry, we all worry about things. Sometimes they’re huge things and sometimes we worry about tiny little things. Our worries can be rational or irrational, sensible or strange but what they have in common is this: worrying is useless.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
Luke 12 v 25