Regarding Scripture: James 4.13-15
It is probably safe to say that most people expect the future to hold benefits. It seems that these hopeful people expect their future to be bright: to have a good family, a good job, a respectable house, nice transportation, money for the kids’ college, retirement, among others. Who doesn’t want the best for their future?
In our hope for the future, how do we express expectations? Is it something like, “hope for the best; expect the worst” or do our sentiments sound similar to, “if the creeks don’t rise”? These phrases represent just a couple of the many idioms that we use to express our expectations for the future.
This week James 4.13-15 reminds us that while we may plan and expect a good future:
- We don’t know what the future holds
- Additional days/years may not be – life is very brief
- The future will be as the Lord wills.
Life truly is uncertain
Have you ever planned for an event, prepared and purchased everything you need, then the event gets cancelled? Or, have you ever known for 100% certainty that you were going to get that raise, determined what you were going to do with the extra money, just to have your plans thwarted because the raise never came to be? Does the cliché, “don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched” fit here?
Life truly is brief
Generally, young people seem not to grasp the concept of brevity of life as well as adults do. But as people mature, life really does become short.
It is natural that we express our grief, hurt, and sadness when an aged loved one passes. But, we consider it tragic when a young person is removed from this earthly existence.
To quote Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.” While from a play, this line seems appropriate, and seems to dramatically restate the proposition put forth in Ecclesiastes, “vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”
Life truly belongs to God
Yes, life is uncertain and brief, but we can be certain of one thing – God holds life and the future. Genesis tells us that God created life. From Jeremiah 1.5 we understand that God knows about the babies growing in their mothers’ womb. Matthew 10.30 further demonstrates God’s knowledge of each person – He knows the number of hairs on our head. And from, Matthew 6.8, we realize that God knows what we are going to pray for before we even pray. And it is James 4.15 that exhorts us to remember that God is in control.
If God wants us to become wealthy, we will. If God wants us to remain like Paul, with a thorn in the flesh, then we will. But we also have to be certain, as was Paul, that God’s grace is sufficient. Our Heavenly Father never stated He would give us everything we desired or prayed for (James 4.3).
As we close out 2006, and look forward to 2007, let us abstain from expressions like, “if the creeks don’t rise,” but remember to use the expression “if the Lord wills…” Because if the Lord wills, then we will live, or we will do this or that; but it all depends if the Lord so wills.