Each New Year brings new stories of catastrophic events. In 2013, we saw the Boston Marathon bombing, firefighters dying while trying to save others and then an Indiana bus crash that killed a youth pastor and his pregnant wife. And 2014 has proven to be a difficult year for many as well. In March a plane carrying 227 passengers and 12 crewmembers mysteriously disappeared. Earlier this month a FedEx truck slammed into a bus carrying students, a deranged white supremacist opened fire and killed three at a community center in Kansas City, and a ferry in South Korea capsized killing at least 87 with 215 passengers still missing.
The terrible stories of lives lost and sadness go on and on. Perhaps tragedy struck your life in a very real and personal way. It can be tempting to look to the rest of 2014 with fear, but we can face the future in faith because God is loving, sovereign and the provider of ultimate hope.
In Matthew, Jesus encouraged the disciples not to fear. In doing so, he provides us with a glimpse of the protection, care and sovereignty we all receive from God:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10: 29-31).
In this passage, Jesus challenged his disciples not to deny him in fear of bodily death. Through this we see that we too have a great hope in God. Jesus reminds us that God is mindful of man (Ps. 8:4). We are of more value than sparrows. He also reminds us that God is sovereign—knowing even when two sparrows are sold for a penny.
We don’t have to fear because we have a loving God who is sovereignly reigning over the events of our lives. He is good, and though he doesn’t promise that we will live carefree lives (1 Peter 4:12 warns that trials will come), he does promise to finish the good work he began in us (Phil. 1:6). He promised a Savior who would bear our grief, carry our sorrows, be wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (Isa. 53:4-5). Our hope and peace is ultimately found in Jesus.
So as Christians we can look to the future, and even the possibilities of danger and disaster, but not as those who are uninformed. We are informed. We know the truth of the gospel and we know that there is life after death. We live by faith and with hope, and we grieve with hope (1 Thes. 4:13-14). We don’t have to fear the worst for the remainder of 2014. We can trust God’s sovereign hand and pray that whatever comes our way he would fulfill his promise that it would be for our good and his glory.