None of us know what is going to happen tomorrow. Of course, we have our own plans in place, but ultimately, there are any number of issues that could come up and result in the need to change those plans. It’s easy to become so consumed by the fear of the unknown that we lose sight of what’s going on in the present, but that isn’t God’s design for us. Don’t let fear of your future paralyze you and keep you from God’s plans for your present.
Matthew 6:34 (TPT)
Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
Even if you consider the future an exciting proposition, there are some fears associated with what’s coming up next. Ultimately, you don’t have anyway to guarantee what’s going to happen next, which makes the future a scary concept. As humans, we like to know what we can expect so we can plan accordingly. If you don’t believe that’s true, take a look around your office and see how many planners there are lying around.
There is certainly nothing wrong with being prepared and having a plan. In fact, the Bible tells us to make the most out of every day that we’ve been given (Ephesians 5:16), so having a plan in place is actually a Godly principle. However, when it doesn’t look like those plans are going to work out, how do you respond? The future isn’t meant to be a fearful thing for God’s people. Instead, the future is the next chapter of our stories and God is holding the pen.
Understanding how to overcome the anxiety associated with the unknown of the future is an important part of protecting your present.
Approaching the Future with Prayer
Philippians 4:6-7 (TPT)
Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding will make the answers known to you through Christ Jesus.
Have you ever participated in a marathon? I haven’t, but I know several people who have. I’m more of a 5K participant than a marathon runner. Admittedly, when I cross the finish line after a 3.1-mile race, I feel like I’ve run a marathon. I’m always amazed at how people can run multiple 26-mile races in a given year. In addition to acknowledging that I’ve never trained for a 26-mile marathon, part of the reason that I’ve never signed up for one is found in the stories that my marathon-loving friends have shared with me.
Marathoners say that they feel like their body is going to shut down multiple times during a race. Others have recounted stories about getting a bit delusional during a race, to the point where they begin to hallucinate. Others have talked about the physical ramifications that they experience for days or even weeks after a race.
The one piece of advice that most marathon racers that I’ve talked to share is that you can’t become so focused on the next mile that you neglect the mile that you’re on. Of course, their bodies are tired when they’re running mile 18. However, they can’t expend any extra mental and emotional energy worrying about what’s going to happen during mile 22.
In the same vein, we can’t worry about tomorrow’s challenges while we’re running our race of life. While marathon runners stop at tables and booths along the way to get a drink of water or eat a piece of fruit, we approach things differently in our spiritual race. Being saturated with prayer in the way that bodily organs absorb nutrients from water allows us to tackle the next mile even when we feel like we’re barely surviving this mile.
In the verses we just read, Paul said that we should avoid being pulled in various directions and worried about what’s going on. Instead, we can face everything through prayer. When we pray, we know that God is listening to each and every word. When we pray, we know that God is ready to intervene and do what we can’t do for ourselves. When we pray, we open ourselves up to the refreshing that God provides in the same way that a stop at the water table hydrates a marathon runner.
One of the best ways to overcome fear of the future is to approach every day with an attitude of prayer. Being in tune with God in your present is a great way to dissuade the fear of your future.
Shedding Weight Before the Race
Hebrews 12:1 (TPT)
As for us, we have all of these great witnesses who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into. Then we w ill be able to run life’s marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.
The writer of Hebrews also compared life to a marathon. We’re not sure if he or she was a racer or not, but obviously they knew about some of the most important aspects to running a marathon. Whether you’re a marathoner yourself, you know people who are, or you’ve ever seen one of these races, ask yourself something: have you ever seen someone running a 26-mile marathon while carrying weights or wearing heavy, cumbersome clothes? Of course not! Not only would the extra weight slow them down, but it would also make their chances of even finishing the race much smaller.
We all have some extra weight. This extra weight isn’t found in your physical appearance or the way that your clothes fit. Instead, the extra weight that the author of Hebrews was referencing was the baggage that all of us carry around. Would you try to run a marathon while carrying duffle bags and pulling a large suitcase on wheels behind you? Never! That would be a nightmare.
Unfortunately, many of us try to do that, and it rarely ever works. What does this have to do with overcoming fear of the future? A lot of the baggage that we’re trying to carry around in today’s race is the fear of what’s going to happen tomorrow.
You may not be able to unload all of your baggage today, but you can let go of the fears about the future. You’ll find your race is much easier to run without all that extra weight.
Your Future Isn’t About You
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Have you ever read a book and flipped to the end to see how a particular situation was going to work out? Maybe you’ve been watching a movie and you did a quick Google search during your viewing to find out about the fate of one of the characters. Perhaps you’ve been binge watching a TV show and you skipped ahead to find out how a certain story was going to work out. Finding out what’s going to happen next is referred to as a spoiler.
I’ve got a spoiler alert about your future: it’s all going to be OK. Everything that you’re worried about today is going to work out. It’s not because the things that you’re facing aren’t scary, they are. It’s not because you’re going to magically figure it all out on your own, you may not. It’s because God, your Heavenly Father knows the plans that He has for you.
When you read Jeremiah 29:11, you can put your name where the text says, “you.” Read it right now like this:
For I know the plans that I have for [YOUR NAME HERE]. Plans for welfare and not for evil, to give [YOUR NAME HERE] a future and a hope.
Did you catch the last two things that God wants to give you? A future and a hope. You don’t have to fear the future, because your future is a gift from God, and the Bible promises that He knows how to give the best gifts (Matthew 7:11).
A Closing Prayer:
God, help me to move past my fears of the future. Remind me of Your goodness and your love for me. Help me to unload that baggage and be saturated with prayer instead of being saturated by worry. I know that You are for me, and You have a plan for my life. In Christ’s name, Amen.