In the Best of Hands
One of the abilities that we have as human beings (and it’s one that distinguishes us from all the other creatures), is our ability to ponder the future – to wonder, to imagine, to look forward to, to fear what lies before us. And we all do it! Our minds are often turning to the future and what that future might hold for us.
For all our pondering, however, there is not a single one of us who can penetrate the future. The wisest of all Jewish kings, King Solomon, once said, ‘we do not know what a day may bring forth’, and that as just as true today as it was when Solomon first said it millennia ago. Gazing into the future is like gazing into the blue of a cloudless sky. No matter how hard we strain our eyes we cannot see the wonderful array of stars that we know lies beyond. So it is with respect to the future. We cannot see what lies beyond the present. It is not a mystery to God! He knows what is before us down to the smallest detail. But it is a mystery to us and will never cease to be a mystery until the end of life.
If we were exempt from sorrows and difficulties, the unknownness of the future would be something we could easily live with. It would actually add to our happiness. There would be all the excitement of discovery as each day’s events unfolded themselves. The questions, ‘I wonder what will happen tomorrow . . . next week . . . next month . . . next year?’ would be asked in a spirit of happy anticipation for we would know that whatever happened, it would be something good and joy-giving.
But life is not like that. We haven’t been exempted from sorrows and difficulties in the past and it is simply a fact that we will not be exempt from them in the future. And that is something that can make the prospect of the future hard to cope with. Many believers – if they are honest – will admit to anxiety and fear as they contemplate what might be ahead.
In Psalm 31:15 we have a text that addresses itself directly to all such anxieties and fears. Addressing the Lord, the Psalmist says, ‘My times are in your hand’. Here is something gloriously certain that we can carry with us into all our unknown future days: our times are in God’s hand.
By times, the Psalmist simply means events and circumstances. The events of life, the circumstances of life, past, present, and future, are in God’s hand. And what he means by that is that they are all under God’s control and direction; they all take place in accordance with his sovereign will. There is nothing that happens by chance; we are not in the grip of a blind fate; we are not at the mercy of the evil one; nor we helplessly in the hands of other people and the influence they have over our lives. Our times are in God’s hand. It is he who is at the helm from beginning to end, directing everything by his sure, wise, loving, all-powerful hand.
What should such a truth do for us? For one thing, it should create in us a sense of privilege with reference to the whole of life. Our great God, who has an entire universe to care for, is ‘taking time’ as it were, to superintend the entirety of our individual lives. We are never out of his thoughts, never out of his sight. Moment by moment he is sleeplessly watching over us, shaping our whole existence, working all things together for our good.
Again, this truth should be of comfort to us with reference to present troubles. There is an overruling providence that is determining the trials that we are facing and that is being guided by infinite wisdom and love as it does so. Isn’t it a comfort in the midst of what is painful and perplexing to know that our times are in the wisest and most loving of hands?
Finally, it should create in us a sense of peace with reference to the future. Our times will continue to be in God’s hand – right to the very end. Whatever each day should bring, it will be under his control and direction. And when we think of how devoted he is to us, and how he is too wise to be mistaken, too good to be unkind, we may well be at peace as we look ahead.
David Campbell is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
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