Does the future seem cloudy? Do you find yourself worrying about the future of your children and grandchildren? You are not alone, but you know that. If the uncertainty of the future is a burden, this post is for you.
Worry about the future has plagued mankind since creation. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told thousands that worry was a worthless enterprise. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:27/Luke 12:25)
Though we have known of the destructive power of fear and worry for thousands of years, we have yet to eradicate it. With that in mind, we will not pretend to offer guaranteed steps to victory over fear. This is neither a pill that will cure nor a vaccine that will counter this monster.
However, there is hope! There are principles that help curtail the power of fear when we realize that the shape of the future is actually in our hands. We will never be in control of all the events of life, but we can shape our lives so that we see events, and ourselves, in proper perspective.
First, trusting God with the future puts the chaos of life in proper perspective. The events of life always seem chaotic, because events happen for many reasons. Sara was not in control of her inability to have a child. When she succumbed to fear rather than believe God’s promise (Genesis 16), her plan for Abraham to have a child with her servant Hagar produced nothing but additional pain and strife. Job was certainly not in control with the tumultuous events of his life. The story of his life, and the story of countless others, demonstrates that trusting God allows us to see all of life in perspective.
This will not inoculate us from fear, but it will help us address it head on. We need to practice trusting God in our lives as well as teach our children and grandchildren to do so. The responsibility of training our descendants to have the proper perspective of life should never be handed off to another person or entity.
A second principle to practice is, giving away money puts our personal life in proper perspective. Because we are not in control of the events of life, the temptation is to think only of how events affect ourselves. Failure to see our life in relationship to others can create a destructive, selfish approach to life.
Giving money away is seldom a trait of personality. Often is a virtue learned only through action. Practicing generosity forces us to see the blessings our lives have received. It urges us to see God as the author of life and the origin of the gifts we enjoy. It also forces us to see the unmet needs of others and ask how we may share our blessings with them.
Two stories from Jesus’ ministry illustrate this truth. In Luke 12:16-21, Jesus told a story of a selfish man who sought only to save for himself. Jesus concluded his story with a question about death, “Who will own what you have prepared.” A contrasting story is a poor widow (Mark 12:41-44) who has only two small coins to give to God. She may have wondered, “What good are these two coins for God’s kingdom?” Still, she offered them, because she saw His blessing in her life. Jesus made sure his disciples saw the actions of this woman practicing the virtue of generosity.
Finally, setting money aside puts our present circumstances in proper perspective. I cannot count the times I have heard it said, “I cannot think about saving for the future. I have a hard time paying the bills today.”
We must overcome the danger of thinking that refusing to consider the future will help avoid worry. It is terrifying to wake up when the future has arrived and realize no provision for it has been made. We also must not fall prey to the idea that failure to save is the definition of reliance upon God.
Scripture commends us for wisely saving a portion of today’s provision for tomorrow, as long as we discern God is the source and provider of all life. “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” (Prov. 13:11) “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.” (Prov. 13:22)
Learning to save reinforces the virtue of discipline in life. A saver learns the proper perspective between things desired and things truly needed. Focusing on what is needed now empowers us to save for tomorrow. At that time, things desired may be enjoyed freely. Learning to practice the discipline of saving, and passing that on to generations to come, serves a family well for generations.
We can never control all of the circumstances of life. There will always be a certain chaotic feel about our existence. However, the chaotic need never overwhelm us when we understand things in their proper perspective.