We took our 2-year-old daughter to the hospital for what we thought would be an ordinary visit. I threw in my bag the two books I had been reading that day. One was by a Christian leader diagnosed at age 39 with a rare form of incurable cancer. The other was a book on Romans 8 by Ray Ortlund, who writes, “A strong confidence in God’s loving intentions and enveloping care fortifies us to face whatever life throws at us.”
That same day, life threw something big at me. While we were at the hospital my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, which has been the deepest sorrow I have known and the greatest threat to my hope. Currently, our daughter continues her treatment. More than ever before, my soul needs to know how to face the future without fear. Where can we turn when the cares of our hearts are many, and fears threaten to overwhelm us?
No one is better equipped to speak to our fears than Jesus Christ. On the night before he was crucified, he helped his disciples as they considered their future and were fearful, distressed, and lonely. He said to them, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27). And Jesus not only gives the command; he speaks truths designed to lead them from fear to faith. He gives them good news about their future.
The answer is not to stop thinking about the future. Rather, we overcome fear of the future by remembering our future in Christ. That night, when confidence was waning, and the disciples were troubled by the days to come, Jesus reminded them that he was going to prepare a place for them (John 14:3). He said that he will give them a Helper, the presence of the Spirit for power and comfort and instruction, to be with them forever (John 14:16). Jesus gives his disciples the promise of eternal life with God: “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).
I naturally spend more time dwelling on what I don’t know about my future than what I do. But the word of God reveals glorious truths about our future in Christ. What we know about the future needs to shape the way we view what we don’t know.
One morning, when my daughter was so weak from battling cancer that she could not walk, and our family was more exhausted than we have ever been, my wife read a Charles Spurgeon quote to me from the book Beside Still Waters. She read it through tears. They were tears of sorrow, tears of comfort, tears of hope.
We have great demands, but Christ has great supplies. Between here and heaven, we may have greater wants than we have yet known. But all along the journey, every resting place is ready; provisions are laid up, good cheer is stored, and nothing has been overlooked. The commissary of the eternal is absolutely perfect.
Military posts usually include a commissary, which is a store of food and supplies. Our needs are many, but Christ knows all of our needs and has already prepared to meet them. Nothing has been overlooked. God promises to provide for our future needs by giving us future grace. We are poor in ourselves, but we will find riches of grace in Christ.
Those who belong to Christ have every reason to be optimistic about the future. Hope dominates our outlook. We look at everything that could possibly come our way in life and consider ourselves more than conquerors. Randy Alcorn says, “Because of the certainty of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and his promises, biblical realism is optimism.”
The Bible promotes optimism, but it is a certain kind of optimism. It is not the secular optimism of positive thinking, or the natural optimism of a laid-back personality, but the godly optimism of Christian hope. True hope endures in the darkness. It is through tears of faith-led lament that we see the beauty of our hope most clearly. Godly optimism is marked by realism and mixed with grief. We know that in this world we will have trouble, but we take heart trusting the one who has overcome the world (John 16:33). Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
What do we know about the days to come? We know that for every changing circumstance, there is new mercy from our faithful God (Lamentations 3:22–23). We know that whatever trials we face, God will be with us to guide and preserve us (Isaiah 43:2). We know that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38–39).
You don’t know everything about your future, but you know the most important parts:
We often fall short of the hope and courage we ought to have as Christians. But day by day, Christ is changing us and empowering us to face the future with confidence in him. Therefore, be strong in the Lord Jesus. Let your heart take courage. Look to the days ahead with joy-filled hope.
By the grace of God, we are learning to expect a bright tomorrow. If you trust him, your morning will come.
By Jared Mellinger