A survey was once conducted over the country in which two questions were asked. First, are you worried about anything? Second, if so, what?
It was no surprise that about 95% of the answers to the first question were “yes.” To the second question, the majority of the people said that “money matters” were the root of most of their concerns.
The next largest percentage stated that their worries had to do with the future of this nation, the future of civilization and the future of humankind.
Now, if that same nationwide poll were conducted today, I imagine that the same two concerns would dominate. For sure, people are concerned about money matters — the economy, stock market, tariffs, the high cost of living, the loss of jobs and other issues. And people are also deeply concerned about the nation, about civilization and about the future of humankind itself.
When you get right down to it, there are a lot of pessimists in the world. A lot of people are so worried that they border on cynicism and despair. They have just given up believing that there is any future for humankind.
I’m reminded here of what Lucy said in a “Peanuts” cartoon. Looking depressed, she stated, “I only dread one day at a time.”
However, that ought never be said of people of faith. This should never be descriptive of a Christian. And I’m not suggesting that we refuse to look at the facts. Of course, we should be realistic. But a Christian is meant to be a center of hope and encouragement.
For the rest of this column, I want to lift up three reasons why we can believe in tomorrow. First, we can believe in tomorrow if we reckon the future with God.
In the first volume of the “Chronicles of Narnia,” which is “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” Lucy meets a majestic lion named Aslan. As you remember, Aslan represents Christ throughout the Chronicles.
But in one of the later books, “Prince Caspian,” Lucy encounters Aslan again. She says, “Aslan, you are bigger.”
“That’s because you are older, little one,” answers he.
“Not because you are?” asked Lucy.
“I am not,” says Aslan. “But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
As we continue to reckon the future with God, we will find him bigger and bigger and bigger.
Second, we can believe in tomorrow when we think of humankind’s potential. So what is the potential of humankind? The trouble is that we in today’s America are in the habit of thinking of only ugly things, troubling things. We read our literature, attend our movies, play our video games, observe our politics and watch our newscasts, so much of which is about separation, violence, profane living, sordid activities, selfish living and the ugly. Thus, we conclude this must be a reflection of the American people.
But not so fast. You and I are people of faith and know something vastly different about humanity. We do, if we believe in the Incarnation at all. We believe that Jesus Christ is the revelation of God and also the revelation of humankind. The life of Jesus is also the truth about humankind. We are all meant to be sons and daughters of God. And in him, we can be.
Third, we can believe in tomorrow if we work at it. Think back to those pilgrims who came to America on the Mayflower. As you recall, they landed at Plymouth Rock in the dead of winter. They had no blueprint for the future. They couldn’t imagine what was ahead of them. All they had was faith and a willingness to work at it.
I’m sure that if we had been sitting on the sidelines and watching them, away from the struggle, we would have shaken our head and said, “This effort is useless.” We would have seen half of their company buried, their food shortages and illnesses and their enduring bitter cold. As I said, we would have said “no way” to their efforts.
That’s the way it is from the sidelines. The result is always negativism and despair.
But one historian wrote, “When the Mayflower sailed for home in April of that year not a single colonist was on board. Not one sailed for home.”
I know plenty of people today who have no hope for the future of the church, the nation, civilization or the future of humankind. They are just stretched out and watching from the sidelines, waiting for the doom that is certain to come.
On the other hand, I know plenty of other people who do believe in the future of the church, the nation, civilization and humankind. The difference is that these latter folks are working at it.