|Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash|
When I was growing up, I sometimes imagined the year 2000, but I never ever thought of 2020. It sounds a bit like science fiction, doesn't it?
Sometimes, when you listen to the news of unrest and violence in the world, the escalating effects of climate change, the widening gap between rich and poor, the increasing reliance on technology instead of our own memories, intelligence, and physical abilities... it's easy to worry and fear the future.
Fear of the unknown is a natural human response. We all have that "fight or flight" instinct, and we all probably lean more to one side or the other. In the face of a challenging unknown, my brother is likely to become aggressive and take risks. His "fight" instinct is stronger than mine. I'm more likely to fret and hang back, to try and assess all possibilities before committing myself.
I want to be a person of faith and hope. I want to take care of real life difficulties with patience, humor, energy, and positive feelings about the eventual outcome. I want to remember that beauty and kindness and blessings are also daily realities. But I must admit that I rarely come close to this ideal.
That's the trouble with trust. It's always needed when we can't see the final outcome of our circumstances. The nature of faith is hope when we can't see, and peace when we don't know. But we want to see, and we want to know.
There is a story that applies to this in the New Testament of the Bible, in the book of Mark, chapter 9. A man brings his (possibly) epileptic son to Jesus, hopeful that Jesus can heal the boy. Obviously, the father has heard about Jesus healing other people, but believing in miracles is difficult. The desperate man wants to believe, he's trying to believe, and he says to Jesus, with great honesty, "Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (verse 24)
This is the foundation prayer of faith. It acknowledges our human inability to completely trust what we cannot understand or anticipate or control, and it expresses our longing to rest in God's care.
We have something in common. When I look at the audience stats for this blog, I can see that a great many of you live in the United States, as I do. Thousands of you are from Canada, the UK, Australia. Even more are from Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and other European nations. And there are hundreds of readers from China, Japan, Israel, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Africa, and other countries around our world. Yet we all share an interest in minimalism, which tells me we're all aware that we have an abundance of possessions and responsibilities, many of which we're grateful for, and some which weigh us down.
And we all wonder what the future will bring. We may feel excited by it, or fearful of it, or somewhere in between, but all of us have reason to expect difficulties and challenges as well as blessings and accomplishments in the future.
So this is my prayer for all of us: that we will have hope, optimism, gratitude, enthusiasm, contentment, and "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding." (Philippians 4:7)
Happy New Year!