The following are some of the more widespread predictions that I have heard for 2018:
• Kim Jung Un will not be the leader of North Korea by midyear.
• Results of the mid-term election will favor the Republicans, but the Democrats will win back a number of seats.
• More public figures will retire or resign as sexual harassment scandals continue to plague the nation.
• President Trump will fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Democrats will call this obstruction of justice, but will fail to impeach the president.
• A terrorist group will employ a chemical weapon with a drone in a major Western city which will wreak havoc.
• The Washington Nationals will win the pennant. (Sorry, Cub fans.)
Of course, no one knows what will really happen in 2018. (Except for what has already happened in the first 10 days of the year.) Yogi Berra put it well when he said: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.“ Yes, but we do it anyway, don’t we?
The truth is that the only thing you can really say for sure about the future is that no one knows the future. Even crystal balls are usually wrong.
However, I do like the challenge of looking forward and thinking about the future. It is certainly important to look forward and make plans for the future. They may not all come to fruition, but it seems to me that a vision to the future is what keeps us going. The Bible would agree: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)
Someone has asked the question, “Why is a car’s windshield so big and the rear-view mirror so small?” The answer is, “It’s because one’s past is not important as our future.” So, look ahead and move on. Well put!
Again, the Bible has a similar insight: “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal.” (Philippians 3:13-14) And for that writer, the Apostle Paul, the goal was to win the prize for which God has called him heavenward in Christ Jesus.
So, how are you approaching the new year? Are you excited about the possibilities? Maybe you are embarking on a new career or are getting married. There are a number of things that could bring you enormous happiness.
Or, maybe you have some grave concerns. Perhaps you are worried about the huge problems of our world. Are we headed for a showdown with Iran or North Korea? With all the talk about whose button is bigger, could this all lead to a nuclear war? Certainly, we all sincerely hope and pray that that does not happen.
There is a little phrase I once learned many years ago. I’m not sure who said it. It has been attributed to the likes of the ancient Greek poet Homer, civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy, and even Tim Tebow. I’m sure many people have said it, including me. It goes like this: “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.” It takes faith to make such a statement. But faith is really what we need in a scary world with an uncertain future.
Because God knows the future, we don’t have to be afraid. Why? Because we are not just talking about some unknowable deity. We are talking about a God who has revealed to us what He is like through Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us about a God who is compassionate, loving and kind, a God who truly cares for each one of us and desires the very best for us. That is why He gave us his Word, the Bible, which the Psalm writer tells us “is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” (Psalm 119:105)
This same Word invites us to: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Corrie Ten Boom was a Christian who lived in the Netherlands during World War II. She and her family, because of their faith and commitment to the God who is love, hid a number of their Jewish neighbors in the small apartment above their watch shop. Eventually they were found out, arrested and sent to a Nazi concentration camp. It was a horrible existence, but Corrie never doubted the God she loved. Her words live on and are worth listening to even now, as we enter a new year. “Never be afraid,” she said, “to trust an unknown future to an all-knowing God.”
Happy new year!
— By the Rev. John Koedyker, pastor of congregational care at First Reformed Church of Grand Haven.