My social media pages yesterday were filled with New Year’s greetings and wishes, most of which expressed, in one way or another, the hope that 2016 would be the best year yet. Such hopes and wishes are an annual event, of course…though seldom realized as true.
Life—like the economy and the landscape—is filled with ups and downs, hills and valleys, good days and bad.
I wanted to ask God this morning to let me know what 2016 would hold, but then I checked myself. What if he had done that three years ago? The year we made a decision that would lead to a major job change, a major move, and major upheaval; the year my sister-in-law was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Would we have made the same decision if the diagnosis had come first?
What about two years ago? Would I have left my pastoral role if I’d known that six months later I’d be delivering mail and Christmas packages instead of a Christmas Eve sermon?
Or last year: Death. Conflict. Depression. Unemployment. Would I really have wanted to know on January 2nd that those lay ahead of me?
The God of Perhaps
Jonathan was the king’s son, a brave warrior, and a trusted friend and leader. At a time when the Israelite army was decimated and weaponless—only the king and his son had swords—the Philistines came prepared for battle, expecting a rout. But Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Let’s you and I go launch a surprise attack on those godless heathens; perhaps the LORD will be with us.” Two men, one sword…and maybe?! They did, He was, and the Israelites won the battle. (Well, the LORD won the battle for them. Read this account in First Samuel 13 and 14.)
Or consider the three Hebrews who in VeggieTales are called Rack, Shack, and Benny. (The Bible calls them by their Babylonian-given names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.) They refused to worship a statue of the pagan king, and the punishment for their crime was death in the fiery furnace. Given one last chance to bow down or barbecue, the boys answered the king: “Dumb question, Nezzie. Throw us on the barbie and call us done; perhaps God will save us and perhaps not, but we’re not going to worship you. Period.” They didn’t, He did, and Nebuchadnezzar made the change of his life. (Read about it in Daniel 3.)
Perhaps God will be with us. Perhaps God will save us.
Maybe 2016 will be the best year yet. Maybe not.
Perhaps God will give you an impossible victory this year.
Maybe God will keep you out of the furnace, or maybe He’ll just keep you from being burned when you’re in it.
Perhaps God will heal you, or perhaps He won’t. Perhaps someone you love more than life itself will meet God in your illness.
Perhaps 2016 will be the year of a perhaps faith in a certain God.