Trusting God When the Future Is Uncertain
I’m afraid to speculate about 2019. Every time I look ahead to a new year and make plans, I find myself, at the end of the year, counting all the plans I made that fell through. In fact, most of my hypotheses are inaccurate. I can envision the major life events, but sometimes even those don’t happen.
Just look at 2018. I can think of one major plan I had that happened: graduation. (Thank goodness for that!) But it was the unplanned events that made me worry. It was the uncertainty about whether I would go to grad school this fall. It was the fear that I might not get a graduate assistant position to pay for my grad degree. It was my vague summer plans. It was my difficulty in choosing the right grad degree (which ultimately resulted in me changing my degree halfway through the fall semester). It was my grandfather passing away just a few weeks ago.
And then, in addition to the outward events, there were my inward struggles. My struggle (and failure) to trust God when making decisions. My struggle (and failure) to keep pursuing God when I don’t feel like it. My struggle (and failure) with temptations I didn’t expect to face. My struggle (and failure) to love the people around me. My struggle (and failure) to choose God’s glory over my own.
To be honest, I know I can approach any new year and anticipate those inward struggles, because they don’t change from year to year. But the events are all over the place. I know I can count on an ongoing battle with my flesh in 2019, but I don’t know if I can count on all my plans happening.
In fact, looking ahead to 2019, the first word that comes to mind is uncertain. I plan to be at school for the spring semester, starting coursework on my new grad degree. I also plan to go on a couple mission trips next summer. As far as I know, I’ll be back at school for the fall semester. But all of those plans, especially the ones further along in the year, are uncertain. They’re indefinite.
It’s almost like I’m drawing a picture in pencil, but God will go back over it later in pen. And the resulting picture will be far from the one I envisioned. Or like I’m writing a story that God will go back and edit. And the resulting story doesn’t seem to match my original.
But while the events of 2019 are uncertain, I would be foolish if I forgot that God is certain. My plans are up in the air, but God’s plans for me are set in stone. And while I may be doubting that something good will come out of the new year, God has promised to surround me with love and faithfulness.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
What a wonderful promise! But God doesn’t even stop there.
Jeremiah 29:12-14 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
New Year resolutions are great, and plans and schedules are great, but the first thing I want to schedule in my new year is time to do just what these verses talk about: seeking God. If God has a perfect plan for my year (and He does), and if He will lead me along as I follow Him (and He will), then my main concern should simply be to cling to these promises in faith.
Will my plans work out the way I want? Unlikely. Will 2019 be full of unexpected, unplanned, and unanticipated twists and turns? Very likely.
But will I find God if I seek Him with my whole heart? Absolutely!
Instead of wasting time right now sketching that picture or writing that rough draft of my story, I’d rather just go ahead and hand my year over to God. And instead of making resolutions, I’d rather make a plan to pursue God every day for the whole year.
So instead of bemoaning the fact that this year is full of uncertainties, I choose rather to pursue God, leaving all the extra details up to Him. I can’t wait to see the finished product!