There are a lot of people who claim to know what will happen in the future. Compared to what we might imagine in ancient times, we don’t seem to have a lot of traditional prophets or robed predictors of the future (except for that creepy Zoltar kiosk at the arcade). Still, there are plenty of others who have taken their place.
For instance, stock and commodity traders insist that a market, industry, or even a specific investment will reach a specific level by a certain amount of time. Economists project production and employment levels. Doomsayers predict when the human race will have obliterated, poisoned, or obsoleted ourselves – or when we will have built robots who will do so on our behalf. It seems that every expert has an idea what will happen (or not happen) in the future.
Now, I’m convinced that God gave us brains to make logical conclusions. Where God doesn’t seem to be speaking to us directly on a particular decision, we can make reasonable choices based on likely outcomes. (Consider the parable in Matthew 25:14-30, for instance, where servants were expected to invest money.)
However, all human predictions suffer from the same problem: They are made by people! Someone has a hunch or a hypothesis, but the future is never quite as simple as extrapolating the past. Something new, disruptive, and unexpected tends to show up, and projections have to be re-calculated.
So, when we can’t fully rely on human projections for tomorrow, what should we base today’s decisions on?
We could act based on every human expert’s estimate about what will happen tomorrow. In that case, the first challenge is to figure out who to listen to, since one generally doesn’t have to read or listen to more than 2 or 3 authors to find diametrically opposite projections (for the same timeframe), contrary root cause analysis results (from the same data), and totally different points of view (even on the simplest things). Then, you’re still playing the odds on whether your “prophet” was correct, or – even if their projection was close – that your behavior was the proper way of preparing for the future. A colleague of mine once wryly commented about people who claim that they know whether a woman’s baby will be a boy or a girl: according to him, the worst thing is that half of them will be right!
Or, we could base our actions today on God’s prophecies. God has never made a statement that He hasn’t fulfilled or will fulfill in the future. Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, which were made centuries – and sometimes millennia – before He was born. God is 100% honest, 100% truthful, and 100% knowledgeable. (Having said that, He doesn’t always tell us 100% of the details, but He gives us more than enough evidence from history that we can trust Him for the rest.)
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT
(See also 1 John 3:19-24.)
Here’s my challenge: the next time you hear a projection, a claim about the future, or someone who is “sure” that they know what is going to happen, consider the source. The reliability of that source should directly relate to how much of our life we stake on it. A huckster who claims to have a hot stock tip for an unknown company probably isn’t worth a dollar of our hard-earned money. On the other hand, the God who created the universe and has a perfect track record for predicting the future, has earned the right to show us how we can maximize our long-term blessings.
We don’t know everything that will happen in the future here on earth, but we can still prepare for it. God gave us directions for how to live: through His word, the Holy Spirit, and a creation that reacts according to a set of rules. The more that we listen to Him, and trust Him for tomorrow, the more likely we are to find good results when we get there. Don’t worry about everyone else’s guesses when it comes to your really important decisions in life.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
4 thoughts on “Hunch, Hypothesis, or History?”
I wish I had a nickel for every time a friend called me to ask my opinion about a stock that another of their “investor” friends had recommended. 99% of the time I told them they would be investing in a high-risk and likely-to-fail scheme. I then direct them to read the book of Proverbs where God has some things to say about they way we accumulate, use and disperse wealth. God’s word can often bring clarity when we need to make decisions. I’d rather to there than to the “experts.”
A frequent discussion thread on the Fidelity Investor Community that I belong to is something like, “What is your prediction for the S&P 500 by year end?” What a sad waste of time. Anything I could offer is mere speculation. And I am likely wrong.
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Yes, indeed: as Westley said in “The Princess Bride”, “anyone who says otherwise is selling something”.
James would seem to agree with these points in James 4:13-16 .
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Agreed! I like how various parts of of the Bible – even those as diverse as Isaiah and James – share the same message.
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