The new Premier League football (soccer to our American friends) season is well under way. This time last year, punters were offered 5000-to-1 on Leicester City winning the title, which they went on to do – much to the shock of the bookmakers, pundits and fans. To put that into perspective, those odds were actually greater than tennis star Andy Murray naming his first son Novak! 
This just goes to show that surprises, shocks and upsets do happen. We are only human, after all. We simply cannot predict the future with any degree of accuracy. We can make educated guesses, of course, but so much of what will happen during our lifetimes we simply won’t see coming. So we don’t know who will lead our nations over the coming decades. We don’t know how many more people will die because of conflict, war or terror attacks in the approaching years. We cannot be certain who our future friends or bosses will be. And we don’t know the number of days God has given us to live (Psalm 139:16) or how many breaths he will grant us to breathe (Daniel 5:23). Neither do we know the day or the hour of our Saviour’s return to usher in a new heavens and a new earth.
Our lack of knowledge and uncertainty about the future can create understandable worry. How will I pay the bills? What job will I have? What if I make a poor career choice? Maybe you worry about the effects of a chronic illness, or how you might cope with the pain of bereavement. Even Christians can be crushed or paralysed by fears of what the future holds.
God knows the future
In the midst of life’s uncertainties, we can be comforted by the truth that our God knows all things. He knows everything that has gone before and everything that is yet to come. Through his prophet Isaiah, God throws out a challenge to the false gods and idols of this world and those who trust in them. The one true God’s knowledge of the future is just one attribute that he highlights to show his inimitable greatness over and against all pretenders to his throne:
“Let them bring them, and tell us what is to happen. Tell us the former things, what they are, that we may consider them, that we may know their outcome; or declare to us the things to come. Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that we may be dismayed and terrified.” (Isaiah 41:22-23)
God challenges lifeless idols to show their credentials and prove their competence by doing the same as he does. He calls on them to predict the future as he has done and “tell us what is to happen.” But, unlike every false god of this world, it is only the true God of hosts who can speak accurately and decisively about the future. In contrast to every idol, ideology, and ‘ism’ that cannot predict what is to come, stands the one true God who alone knows what the future holds and indeed controls it. So we can be sure that the prophecies in Isaiah which speak of Christ’s return are certain to take place. In fact, every promise and blessing given to believers in Jesus Christ will be fulfilled. Isaiah assures us that our God can be fully trusted because his promises never fail: “…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
Certainty through trials
But what does it matter that our God knows the future when we don’t? How does that alleviate the worry of losing your job, caring for a sick spouse, living with physical suffering, coping with bereavement, or any number of other painful situations a Christian may face? The belief that God is completely sovereign over all future events can easily lead to Christians wheeling out simplistic phrases and platitudes, which do little to ease the suffering of others, or the worry that some feel over the future.
But a knowledge of God’s supreme reign over ever single future event should lead us to a place of faith rather than fear. We can experience peace in the midst of a storm and the comfort of the one who controls all things. Yes, we may face painful circumstances, but God will complete the good work he has started in us (Philippians 1:6). Yes, there will still be death, suffering, and violence in this world, but there is a time coming when the “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 65:25). At that time all evil will have been destroyed and, “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4).
This is the future hope that we have in the midst of our temporary trials. Not a hope based on wishful thinking. But a firm, unshakeable hope rooted in the certainty that what God has declared will come to pass. The more I understand that the future of all things is in God’s hands – from the future of whole nations to the important minutiae of everyday life – the more I can trust that my own future is not uncertain. Far from it, for God is on the throne. In control of the world and of my life. He can be trusted.
There are, of course, times when we will feel fearful over what may or may not happen, but every second of our future is known intimately by God. Yes, surprises, upsets and shocks will continue to emerge. But as believers we continue to experience a sure and certain hope, because we know the way history will end. We know the day is coming when our God who governs the future will say “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5).