Some clichés are worn and weary. Others, however, never lose their punch. One such (to me, at least) is: “We know not what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future.”
Let’s make certain up front that we do not misread those words in some neo-Calvinistic way that is overly predestinarian. If we were to say that God “plans” or “orchestrates” or “dictates” the future, then the Theodicy question would loom large. Theodicy basically asks: “Why would a God of love create pain and suffering?” My answer is that I do not think God creates pain or suffering at all. Those things are just part of the reality of life in a mortal sphere, just as are joy and success. What kind of God would willingly inflict pain and suffering on the people God has created? I love my own children far too much to bring hardship upon them. Jesus specifically said: “If we then, being evil, know how to love our children, how much more so shall God …?” (Luke 11:13) That one statement alone is all I need to hear in order to know that God is not the author of evil. Jesus said so, and I believe Him.
My faith says what the Bible says: “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) Put another way: Life happens. Hardships occur, many times indiscriminately. Whether a person is just or unjust, young or old, rich or poor, a contributor to the situation or an innocent victim, sometimes roofs cave in around us or upon us. When that happens, our faith teaches, we do not face our crises alone.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.” (Psalm 23:4) “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 43:5) “Lo, I will be with you always.” (Matthew 28:20) Both Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament clearly teach that God is with us, always and everywhere. They do not teach that God will magically intervene and remove every pain or problem from our lives. They simply offer assurance that God will be with us day by day, moment by moment, and step by step. And somehow, at the end of it all, God will have taught us valuable lessons from both pain and pleasure.
The Easter Story was a great reminder of that. During the agonizing pain of Good Friday, God remained close to Jesus. In fact, Jesus said as much with His dying breath: “Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) And then on the morning of unparalleled joy, there was an Easter angel at the empty tomb (a reminder that God was there, as well). The Bible teaches from start to finish that our futures are in God’s hands. Another way of saying that is: God is present in our futures. God will be there, walking beside us, holding us up when we are weary, celebrating with us when we do our victory dances, and always helping us to interpret the events around us in order that we might become whole.
And that is how I understand the statement of faith: “We know Who holds the future.”