A Brief Meditation for the Month

January 2024

Standing at the threshold of another year in our ever-changing world, none of us can with any certainty predict our own future. We may plan, hope and expect, and yet meet with disappointments and occurrences for which we are unprepared. Life throws up the unexpected in our experiences because of all the varied events around us over which we have no control. For example, a business manager’s sudden, unexpected death may plunge that business into chaos, resulting in mismanagement, loss of trade, shutdown, and unemployment. As a result, a hardworking father, the family’s chief breadwinner, finds himself unemployed, without the steady financial income his family relied upon to pay the monthly mortgage along with all the ordinary household expenditures, and searching for new employment for which numerous others are competing. His children, too young to understand the full extent of what has taken place, experience all the little luxuries they previously enjoyed being no longer available to them. Because he is the father of a Christian family who contribute financially to support the work of the gospel, his much-reduced income curtails his support. Of course, on the other hand, the sudden death of the same manager could totally change everything in the opposite direction. It could lead to increased business under new management, resulting in its expansion, with more employment and much-improved wages. The point is that every life is impacted by chains of events, often beginning with what appears to be somewhat insignificant. Since this is the case, it confirms what Paul the apostle wrote in his epistle to the Romans: “None of us liveth to himself,” Romans 14:7. Yet how seldom do we think about the ripple effects of our personal decisions, words, and actions, and their unseen future consequences for others for good or for ill.

As we face this new year then, with all its uncertainties, some will look to the future with optimism or pessimism or with an attitude of fatalistic indifference, concluding, “Whatever will be will be.” However, the child of God can approach every uncertainty with the confidence the Psalmist exhibited in the face of many difficulties when he said: “But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand.” Psalm 31:14–15. The Psalmist understood God’s overruling knowledge and wisdom in every event and occurrence so that he could feel safe and secure under divine care. Often, we hear people in conversation speaking about good times and bad times, or times of prosperity contrasted with times of adversity and struggle. This, however, is the story of life. Life is comprised of perpetual change as we make our journey from time to eternity. Nevertheless, God’s dear people know that nothing in their lives is accidental as far as God is concerned. He knows the end from the beginning. With perfect precision, he orders what is best for each of his children at the right time and in the correct measure. God never makes any mistakes, howsoever we may react or respond to his doing. The mighty Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had to discover the humbling truth in his experience: “All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” Daniel 4:35. Godly Job, amidst all his afflictions, was confident in one thing: he could trust God. He testified: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Job 13:15. Like Job, believers know that not even death can separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:38–39.

G. G. Hutton.