We can't know the future, but we can plan to meet all challenges with trust and hope.
We don’t know what will happen over this new year. In large part, that depends on us. But it also depends on our welcoming whatever comes with confidence. Of course, in 2020, some things may be already on the horizon … the arrival of a new baby, an exam to pass, a marriage to celebrate. But worries also lie before us: Will an elderly relative still be among us next Christmas? Can we survive another year of unemployment? Sometimes we wish we could be clairvoyant and have all the answers to our questions.
How should we view the future?
Whatever the claims of astrologers and horoscopes, we can’t know the future and what the New Year will bring. In this respect, perhaps it’s not amiss to recall that all forms of divination are to be rejected, because they’re incompatible with human free will which is, by definition, unpredictable. They’re also a contradiction of Christian faith and hope.
Indeed, recourse to horoscopes, astrology, palmistry, the interpretation of dreams, spells, clairvoyants, or mediums reveals a thirst for power over time, events, and, ultimately, over others, as well as a readiness to conjure occult powers. Such a desire may not be conscious, but it’s there beneath the surface. A proper Christian attitude consists in placing ourselves with trust in the hands of Providence and abandoning all unhealthy curiosity as regards the future.
What good will it do us to know the future beforehand?
Jesus so often reminded us, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” (Mt 6:34). It’s good to look ahead, to prepare for it — especially when one’s in charge of a family. But if we put all in the hands of God, we already have a multi-risk insurance in the love of God. Our hope lies in his sure Word, not in the predictions or forecasts of some clairvoyant “specialist.” For, at heart, if we’re so keen to know the future, isn’t that already a sign of a lack of trust?
Of course, it’s hard to wait without knowing what’s around the corner, not knowing if your child will get better, if a long period of unemployment will end in a stable job, if a shaky friendship will find its legs, if a couple on the edge of divorce will find a way to reconciliation, or if the doctors will diagnose your grandchild with a disease. But what good does it do for us to know in advance? Because, whatever may happen, grace will be granted at the moment we need it, and not before.
So what will we do with this blank page?
The worst thing, the thing over which the Evil One has the most power, is our imagination. When confronted with reality, we can deal with it face-to-face. But in our imagination, worries about the future, which we’re powerless to control, can develop into despair. It’s the grace of God, not our imagination, that is truly real.
What will happen this year? We can’t know. But in the end, what does it matter? Things happen. We can’t change them, at least not in any direct or immediate way. Events are beyond our control, but we still remain free to face them with trust and determination rather than simply submit to them. We’re free to meet them in a spirit of hope rather than see them as some inexorable fate.
Whether your year be rocky, painful, and full of trials, or strewn with joys, pleasant surprises, and happy events, it will be beautiful and fruitful if you live it with God, in Him, and through Him. And that’s not just some pious commonplace: it’s the reality to which we’re called.