There is a creeping malaise of pessimism seizing the hearts and minds of people today. This feeling of helplessness and frustration is heightened by the passing of another year and the approaching end of another century. There is a paralysis of spirit that is gripping not only the world but also us Christians. Of course, this is nothing new. David expresses these same feelings in Psalm 31. “Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble; my eye wastes away with grief. Yes, my soul and my body! For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away” (Ps. 31:9-10).
The problem today is that people have been led to believe that they are in control of their lives and their destinies. The advances of science and learning should hold out the promise of unlimited opportunity, but the very opposite is happening. At the end of another year, the world seems poised at the edge of some unnamed disaster. In spite of the advances of modern medicine, we still face aids, Ebola, and super germs. People don’t know whether to worry about El Nino or global warming. The prosperity we enjoy in the United States and the rising stock market seem increasingly fragile. It is a terrible burden for people to feel and think that they have to solve these unsolvable problems. Mankind feels “my times are in my hands.”
The Christian is not immune from these problems. The Christian is also tempted by Satan to think that his salvation and his future are dependent upon him. The religious world also seems gripped by the fear of impending doom. This bunker mentality is seen in its extreme form by David Koresh and other “Christian” groups who are arming themselves in anticipation of the impending violent fall of society. Many preachers are dwelling on the collapse of the economy and the monetary system. Christians are urged to hoard gold and canned goods and move to the wilds of Montana. Some speak of the collapse of society due to the computer’s inability to handle the programming changes needed in the year 2000. We experience the inroads of the immorality of the day in the breakdown of families and the feeling that the next generation is going to hell in a handbasket. Among conservative Christians there is an increasing feeling of hopelessness in facing the future.
God In Control
The answers to these feelings are not to be found in ourselves or in trying to escape the wickedness of this world by cutting ourselves off from the world. David in Psalm 31 fled to the Lord. “I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities” (Ps. 31:7). David found hope in the unfailing goodness of the Lord. “Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men” (Ps. 31:19)! David realized that his times, his future, was in the hands of the covenant God. Our text is a beautiful expression of the Christian’s faith. “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand” (Ps. 31:14-15).
God is in control of our lives and our future. Jesus reminds us that we are not to worry about our tomorrows because they are in the hands of our Creator and Preserver God. Live as people who take no thought for tomorrow. God has never yet forsook in need the soul that trusted Him indeed. The promises of God in Jesus are sure and certain. We have just celebrated the fulfillment of God’s promises in the birth of Jesus Christ. God’s love has shined into our hearts and into our world. The book of Revelation assures us that the Lamb on the throne is in control. All the events and circumstances of life are in the hands of the Lord who is our God. What more could we ask?
Instead of being frightened and out of control, we need to leave all things to God’s direction and praise Him for His love and deliverance.
David ends Psalm 31 with the positive assurance of praise. “Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints! For the LORD preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person. Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD” (Ps. 31:23-24).
Hope in the Lord this upcoming year.
–Pastor John Schierenbeck