We all have our worries and fears about the future, and what we hear on the news certainly does not help! Earthquakes, floods, wars, government corruption, increase in crime and rising costs of living are just some of the alarming headlines we come across.
Thankfully, none of this is news to God. He knows our human tendency to worry, which is why the call to “not fear” appears so many times in the Bible and is one of the most repeated commands.
Here are a few truths I keep going back to and lean on whenever fear of the future has gripped me:
1. Just like the flowers and birds, live by the day
So often, we live in the future, already worrying about next week, next month, or next year. However, this robs us of the joy for today!
In Luke 12:22-32, Jesus tells His disciples to consider the wildflowers and the birds as a reminder for why we should not worry. He describes how the wildflowers don’t do anything to look beautiful and grow. And the birds which do not store up food are provided for each day. If God clothes and cares even for these very tiny parts of His creation, how much more will He provide for us as His children?
Reflecting deeply on this is really teaching me to live in the present. Recently, I have been having problems with my car. It leaks, so whenever it rains heavily, water gets inside. And with the rainy season, I’ve been driving through floodwaters for weeks, which has caused some part of the system to fail, and now one of the car doors won’t open. I’ve been worried about the water affecting my brakes and engine as well. But because I live in a third world country, parts and mechanics are really expensive and hard to come by.
Amid my worrying, the Holy Spirit drew my attention to the passage in Luke 12, and I was challenged! Reading it, I felt as though God was saying to me, “Yes, this is a concern, but is your car driveable and usable right now?” As I answered “Yes”, I felt my thoughts shift to thankfulness that I have a car to begin with, and that God was going to provide solutions as I needed them.
I think about the Israelites, who had to rely on God’s provision of manna (food from heaven) to eat every day in their desert wandering. They could not store any leftovers for the next day; and when some tried, it turned mouldy and inedible. God was teaching them to trust and depend on Him to come through, and in the same way, He wants to show Himself trustworthy to us too.
2. Give thanks
I cannot say enough about the power of thankfulness and praise to bring us out from worry and fear and into peace and confidence.
There is a reason David urges us to not forget what God had already done for us (Psalm 103). As we praise and give thanks, it shifts our attitude and thinking, and we begin to realise how God really does take care of us. When we thank Him for all He has done, it gives us hope and strengthens our faith for what He can and will do now as well as in our future.
For example, thanking God for healing when I am sick can feel backwards, but as I begin to praise, I start to think of things that I’d initially overlooked due to worry or fear, for instance, having access to medical care, hospitals, the right medicines, people to take care of me—these are all blessings that will bring about the healing God has promised.
Philippians 4:6-7 promises that when we make requests to God coupled with thanksgiving, His peace will guard our hearts and minds from worry, fear, or from anything that has caused us to place our confidence in, other than Him. In giving thanks, we are placing God on the throne of our lives and affirming that Satan has no authority to bring fear, worry, or anxiety.
Thankfulness transpires into confidence that no matter what comes my way, God is always with me and never stops doing good to me!
3. Exchange our “what ifs” for God’s promises
“What if I fail? What if I never get better? What if it doesn’t work? What if I never get married? What if I don’t hear God clearly?” Any of this sound familiar?
I can be a chronic “what if-er” in the worst of ways. I find myself worrying about every possible scenario in case one of them actually happens—as if worrying will make me more prepared for whatever may come.
When I returned to Tonga after spending some time in New Zealand, I realised that I was still traumatised from the Tongan volcanic eruption which happened over a year ago. I would lie in bed and think, “What if I never feel normal again?” I was terrified that I would be stuck in this state of panic and fear.
It’s been a few months since, and with time and support from friends, I’m relieved to say I am no longer in that same state. This has made me realise that so many of our “what ifs” never actually come to pass, and so what a waste of time to worry.
The Bible tells us to focus our thoughts on “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8-9). When we put into practice everything we’ve learned, then God’s peace will be with us.
Replacing our “what ifs” with the promises of God can be a comfort in times of worry. We can replace, “What if I never get married or get my dream job?”, with Psalm 37:4 and Psalm 145:19 that speak of God satisfying the desires of our heart. Or perhaps we’re on long term medication for a physical illness or depression, and we’re afraid of what that means for our future—in this instance, we can dwell on Isaiah 33:24 and Revelation 21:4 where it clearly says there is no more sickness or pain in heaven.
When hard times come, now or in the future, we can count on God’s grace to sustain us, as Paul confirms from his experience. He learned to be content in any and every situation, well fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want. He realised that he could “do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).
4. Find the heavenly perspective
A volcanic eruption, the end of a relationship, Covid-19 lockdowns and impending back surgery left me feeling lost, disheartened and confused. I wrestled with God during this season. “Were His promises not true? Does He lie? If God did not stop all this harm that came my way, what security was there for me in my future?” I asked Him.
As I look back, I am thankful for this time of wrestling as God did respond to my cries. I read verses like Matthew 5:45 where Jesus talked about how it rains on both the righteous and unrighteous, as well as others that promise suffering, trials and tribulation (John 16:33; James 1:2-3; Romans 5:3-5). Trying times will come to us all, regardless of our faith; the difference is, we as believers can know the peace and joy found in Christ.
Through all this, I gained a deeper understanding of what it means to have a good future and a blessed life—it is to know the One who is in control and who loves us deeply.
When we consider heaven and the purpose of our lives, what we go through is put into perspective. This world will fall away and what will remain is eternity with every need satisfied completely and all of God’s plans fulfilled. No sickness, depression, fear, wars, or death—only love, joy, peace, and righteousness (Romans 14:17).
Jesus is our Rock, and He’s the surest foundation upon which to build our lives on so we can stand firm, come what may (Psalm 62:2; Matthew 7:24-25). We live secure in the knowledge that our real lives are safely hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3), and this means just as He is in us while we walk this earth, we are also in Him, seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Therefore, no matter what happens, we will not lose our identity and inheritance in God, and thus, He is our great hope for the future.