What the future holds has always piqued our interest as human beings. We have experiences and memories of the past, and are fully acquainted with the events of the present, but we have no guarantees concerning the future. Consequently, some have claimed to be able to predict the future and speak confidently about what is to come. Crystal balls, horoscopes, cards, psychics and fortune tellers are some of the things and people that many consult for information about their personal future. No one has all the answers, however, and many prognosticators have been proven false or deceptive.
When it comes to the future of the world or society, there seems to be a common feeling that things will be worse than they are right now. Every generation has probably had doomsayers who saw and predicted the decline of society or the end of the world. George Orwell’s classic, 1984 envisioned a world that had devolved into a “negative utopia” and even though that year has come and gone, many are convinced we are still headed in that direction. The Y2K scare of 1999 had many expecting a major disruption of life as we know it once 2000 arrived, and a misreading of the famed Mayan Calendar predicted that the world would come to an end on December 21, 2012.
In his much touted television series, The Story of God, Morgan Freeman traveled the world examining the beliefs of various religions. One episode on the Apocalypse reviewed how differing faith traditions viewed the end of days. In the Bible (Matthew 24:6-7), Jesus predicted specific signs of the end. “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” In 2 Timothy 3:1-4, the Apostle Paul adds, “But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”
The evening news and our daily experiences confirm that those predictions are coming true in our time. These do appear to be the last days; however, believers in every generation for the last 2,000 years have perceived that theirs would be the last. No one knows when the end will come, only that it will all come to an end someday.
But how do we then face the future? Are we to be fearful and anxious? Are we to ignore the signs of societal deterioration and live as if all is well? Thankfully, both Jesus and Paul offer hope along with their predictions. Believers are encouraged to be faithful to the truth, and to prayerfully take note of the unfolding signs. Jesus promises a reward and eternal life for the faithful and believing.
The point is this: regardless of the unknown, and even with indications of difficult times ahead, believers can face them with hope. A life oriented around God has a sure foundation on which to stand when things get shaky. Consider Psalm 46:1-3, 7. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…The Lord Almighty is with us the God of Jacob is our fortress.”
Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.