Whenever you find yourself in a volatile season, remember:
Smile at the future.
The Proverbs 31 woman shows us an illogical key to volatile times: “She smiles at the future” (Prov. 31:25 NASU). “She can laugh at the days to come.” “She looks forward to the future with joy” (NCV).
Watching this woman in action, we wonder: Might explosive times be key times to learn to look ahead, get a glimpse of what God sees there – and smile, chuckle, laugh?
See a future hope.
In terms of bright futures, we Christians tend to make two mistakes: (1) We look only at eternity. (2) We look only at this life. Yet Jesus’ encounter with Mary and Martha, and his raising of their brother Lazarus from the dead, remind us our Lord has good things in store for us both in time and in eternity.
Don’t assume you know how that will look in any given situation. Rather, ask the Lord what he wants to do. Watch and listen, hoping in him who is the resurrection and the life.
Fight fear with fear.
“The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.” “She always faces tomorrow with a smile” (Prov. 31:30, 25 MSG).
What the Proverbs 31 woman shows us, Isaiah and David teach us: Fight fear of the future with the fear of the Lord.
Indeed, Isaiah said, “God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with this people. He said: ‘Don’t be like this people, always afraid somebody is plotting against them. Don’t fear what they fear. Don’t take on their worries. If you’re going to worry, worry about The Holy. Fear God-of-the-Angel-Armies’” (Isa. 8:11-13 MSG).
Incredibly, our Lord warns us, not about joining those who openly rebel against him, but about joining those who identify themselves as his, yet fear people and things in this world more than they fear him. Such people name his name, but do not see his unseen world coming, ruling, in the here and now.
If we follow that way, we too become volatile. Misunderstanding people and circumstances, we fluctuate between giddy hope and despair, gaiety and dread. In our frenzy, we stumble and fall over the Sanctuary. Astoundingly, Christ himself becomes to us “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense … a trap and a snare” (Isa. 8:14 NKJV).
Ah, but if we let him, our Lord himself will teach us the fear of the Lord – for that fear dispels every other fear. That fear puts both the earth realm and the spirit realm into perspective. That fear steadies and calms. It ushers in wisdom, deliverance, provision, laughter.
Live in two worlds.
Our Triune Lord himself gives us eyes to see into the unseen world. Redeeming us, he tells us to “be of good cheer” – and he empowers us to do it.
Hallowing the Father, trusting in the Son, walking by the Spirit, we face the very real stuff that every volatile season brings. Our experiences – and emotions – run the gamut. Often, we don’t know what to think.
And yet, we abide in the Sanctuary, utterly enveloped by the One who fiercely protects his creation, his purposes, his people, his name.
From this holy place where God himself encamps around us, we learn to see what’s happening in the physical realm in light of what’s happening in the Kingdom. We learn to do what God has created us to do, calmly, confidently, with joy.
Beloved of the Father, redeemed of the Lamb, intimate of the Spirit: I pray that your heart will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called – his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else – not only in this world but also in the world to come. (See Eph. 1:18-21 NLT.)
Drawn by your confidence and joy, may people hurtling who-knows-where on a runaway roller coaster, ask in awe, “The future – how can you smile just thinking about it?”
Smiling at the Future Series
Can laughter be a strategy for victory in a volatile season?
This series is adapted from the Key Truths e-column, “Smiling Just Thinking About It.” © Deborah P. Brunt 2008, 2014. All rights reserved.