If there is one word that characterises events on the world stage at the moment it is surely ‘uncertainty’. Wherever we look, there seems to be confusion as to what is really happening, confusion as to what is the best solution to complex crises (if there is one) and fear as to what the future holds. Where will American foreign policy go next? Does even the President know? What will North Korea do beyond belligerent sabre-rattling? Will Angela Merkel survive as German Prime Minister? (You will probably know the answer by the time you read this). Where would anyone start to unravel the complexities of the Middle East? What will Brexit look like and what will the consequences be? Your guess is as good as mine, if not better.
Of course few of us can bring any influence to bear on the ‘big picture’. It is the small picture that poses the most pressing problems. Maybe it’s declining health, concern for a young person showing no sign of spiritual life, anxiety about care provision for an elderly relative, or any one of a multitude of other issues. In so many respects the way ahead seems very uncertain, full of the ‘maybe’ and the ‘what if?’
One thing is certain – the future is not in our hands, and the longer we live, the clearer that becomes. We plan, we anticipate, we worry, yet events take entirely unexpected turns and often leave us amazed or baffled. We don’t know what tomorrow may bring, much less next week or next month.
That could be depressing or frightening, but as Christians we know that we do not face the unknown future alone. Psalm 138:8 reminds us, ‘The LORD will fulfil his purpose for me’. There is a word of hope for God’s people to hold on to in the uncertainties of living in a fallen world. Literally the psalmist says, ‘The LORD will perfect what concerns me’. The words are a reminder that our Lord is a sovereign God. He is in ultimate control of ‘all that concerns me’, even the smallest detail. If, as Jesus reminds us, he supervises the fall of the sparrow, he surely oversees all aspects of the lives of his children. The reference to his ‘purpose’ in many of the translations reflects that. There is nothing random in his universe.
Of course control in the wrong hands is a dangerous and frightening thing. World events underline that fact. The psalmist goes on to reassure us, however, when he says, ‘your love, O LORD, endures for ever’. The word for ‘love’ is that wonderful Hebrew word hesed which means eternal, unchanging covenant love, reflecting the Lord’s commitment to his people that results in the salvation provided in Christ crucified and risen. Control could not be in better hands. The Father loves us, the Son loves us and the Holy Spirit loves us. This is the Triune God who will perfect what concerns us.
That is not a guarantee of an easy passage through life. Far from it. There may be trials that we have never imagined or sorrows we have feared, along, we trust, with joys we could not have anticipated. The hard experiences will not break the Lord’s people, however, but will serve his glory and our growth in grace. And even in the hard times, we will by his grace be able to ‘count it all joy’ (James 1:2). Only those who are children of God through faith in Christ have such hope and confidence.