One of my lingering memories from a mission trip to Kazakhstan years ago was walking down a street in one of the major cities and watching the fortune tellers plying their trade on the sidewalk. Predicting the future was apparently a thriving business in that area, and lots of people seemed happy to open their wallets in the hope of grabbing a glimpse of what might be coming their way. It was intriguing to watch, but it occurred to me that making a business out of predicting the future isn’t restricted to other cultures. Fortune telling is big business here in America, too. It’s just that the self-proclaimed prophets in this country don’t generally set up little booths on the sidewalks. Here they congregate in huge media conglomerates, news agencies, sports networks, brokerage houses, and political “think tanks”.
If I Had Only Known ~
All of us would like to know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Wanting to know what the future holds is a natural reaction to our human limitations. “If I had only known…” is a comment repeated every day by someone blindsided by some significant event. All of us have seen major events lately that highlight our vulnerability and reinforce our fear of things we cannot control and against which we cannot defend ourselves.
One of those events has been the series of mostly negative convulsions as the stock market reacted to the expanding Coronavirus epidemic. The market initially plunged to record lows, then rebounded, then plunged again. It’s a roller coaster fueled by fear on one hand and a desire to profit on the other. Its radical swings are evidence that no one knows for sure what’s going to happen. Advance notification could have made multitudes incredibly wealthy, or at least prevented tremendous losses. No wonder hundreds of millions of dollars are paid every year to financial fortune tellers in the hope of not being victimized by unanticipated market reversals.
No Ordinary Night ~
The dawn of “Super Tuesday” didn’t seem so super to multitudes of residents in middle Tennessee. Tornadoes tore through the Nashville area in the middle of the night destroying homes, businesses, churches, and schools. Tragically, buildings, trees, and roadways weren’t the only things damaged that night. Human bodies were twisted and broken as well, as the whirling winds swept through the area taking hopes, dreams, and for at least 24 people, even life itself. Most of those people almost certainly went to bed anticipating another ordinary night. No one expected that their world would be turned upside down, or that they wouldn’t awaken in this world at all.
The desire for knowledge about the future is not a sinful thing in and of itself, but it opened a door of opportunity for those that God called “false prophets.” False prophets claimed to have divine revelations about the future and declared that they were speaking with God’s direct authority. Their predictions may have sounded good, but they were never reliable because they were always based on lies. Jeremiah delivered God’s response to the genre that fits them in any age.
And the LORD said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.” Jeremiah 14:14 (NKJV)
One Thing in Common ~
The fortune tellers in Kazakhstan had at least one thing in common with the false prophets in Jeremiah’s day. Whatever their individual goals might have been, both told people what they wanted to hear. One of the local residents told me that everything the Kazakhstan fortune tellers “saw” about their clients’ future was always in some way good news. “Why is that?” I asked one of the local residents. “Well… “ he said, “Nobody wants to pay for bad news.”
Knowing our extensive vulnerability, God did not want to leave us in the dark about what to expect in this violent, chaotic, selfish, hate-filled, world. What God said we could expect in this life is no bed of roses, to say the least. The author of the greatest Good News ever didn’t deceive us with a phony, one-sided proclamation like the false prophets. The Apostle Paul was graphic in revealing the kinds of things Christians could expect, but never more so than in his letter to the church in Rome.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Romans 8:35-36 (NKJV)
A Different Kind of Good News ~
Paul didn’t give a list of things that God would not allow to happen to Jesus’ followers. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. These things wouldn’t have been mentioned at all if being subjected to them wasn’t a real and ongoing threat. The good news we’re given in the face of all those awful things he mentioned is that none of them will ever be able to separate us from His powerful, loving presence.
We all want to hear promises of peace and safety and assurances of a prosperous tomorrow, and we are inundated with people waiting to tell us what we want to hear. We have all kinds of “fortune tellers” seeking to make merchandise of their version of the future. How do vulnerable, flawed followers of Jesus deal with the vast array of unanticipated dangers lurking in the darkness of tomorrow? The answer that David came up with a long time ago still works today.
My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:5-8 (NKJV)
We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, or even if we’ll wake up in this world, but we flawed and vulnerable followers of Jesus can close our eyes with the same confident expectation that David had. The One whose love paid the awful price for our redemption will be waiting to greet us and walk with us through whatever circumstance awaits us.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to Tweet & Share from the pull quotes below. Each quote links directly back to this article through Twitter.
- “The fortune tellers in Kazakhstan had at least one thing in common with the false prophets in Jeremiah’s day. Whatever their individual goals might have been, both told people what they wanted to hear.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The author of the greatest Good News ever didn’t deceive us with a phony, one-sided proclamation like the false prophets. The Apostle Paul was graphic in revealing the kinds of things Christians could expect. Romans 8:35-36” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “How do vulnerable, flawed followers of Jesus deal with the vast array of unanticipated dangers lurking in the darkness of tomorrow? The answer that David came up with a long time ago still works today. Psalm 62:5-8” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but … the One whose love paid the awful price for our redemption will be waiting to greet us and walk with us through whatever circumstance awaits us.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
Check out Ron’s book, “Right Side Up Thinking in an Upside Down World ~ Looking at the World through the Lens of Biblical Truth”.
The Kindle e-version is just $1.99. No Kindle device is needed. E-book readers are included on most computers, tablets, and smartphones. If you don’t have one, the free Kindle app can be easily downloaded directly from the Amazon site on almost any device.
Click here for a “Look Inside” preview at Amazon.
© 2020 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.