Direction for the Future in 300 Words

Recently, along with some other religious leaders in our city, I was asked by a contributor at the Lincoln Journal Star to offer some direction for the future as we close out 2015... in 300 words or less.

Below is what I provided.  It ran in today's paper under the title "Faith leaders offer thoughts on the year ahead":

As we turn the page on the calendar, many of us would like to put the last year of race wars, political hotness, terrorist attacks and the like forgetfully behind us. This says nothing of the more personal struggles many of us have faced.

2015, not entirely unlike other years in the history of the world, has been difficult. And yet, as one standing in the long history of orthodox Christianity, I still believe that Jesus is on the throne and that from that throne He has been—and continues to be—in control of all things. Theologians call this the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.

It’s one of the hardest things to get our heads around as Christians: that God has not promised to deliver us to our own personal definition of the ‘good life.’ Instead, we’re to surrender in faith and trust to a God who is sovereign -- despite how difficult our circumstances may be.

Admittedly, that doesn’t take away the pain we experience. It doesn’t take away suffering or frustration. Faith in the God of the Bible doesn’t make us glib, naive optimists. Instead, God’s sovereignty invites our faith to come alongside our pain, suffering and frustration. It invites us to see that God is with us in the midst of these things working all things together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28)

The 18th century Anglican pastor John Newton summarized it this way when he wrote that “everything is needful that He sends; nothing can be needful that He withholds.” That’s truth that Christians get to hang on to. It’s truth we need to hang on to.

2016 will be difficult in its own ways. But a Christian worldview allows us to see that in the difficulties, God is either teaching us to rely on Him in faith, or return to Him in repentance and all the while encouraging us to cry out in a patient, enduring, expectant prayer: Come, Lord Jesus, come.