When US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said “… there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns…” many people, with furrowed brows, struggled to make sense!
But as we try to peer round the edge of the year into 2005, what hopes can we have for the future? We live in a world of many unknowns. Who knows what events will be round the corner of the year? Will there be a major terrorist attack? On a personal level, will we have to face illness or unemployment? On a brighter note, maybe there’ll be new cures for dreaded diseases. Maybe there will be greater peace and stability in the world. Maybe…but we just don’t know.
Christians are no different from anyone else, in that we all wrestle with the unknown. Yes, we know that suffering in general is connected with human rebellion against God. It’s also obvious that when people do not love and respect each other, as instructed by God, that suffering and pain is the result. Many people without Christian belief have commented, that if we all tried to follow the example of Jesus, the world would be a far better place. Yet even though we can see human responsibility for the sufferings in the world, we still wrestle with the unknown: Why me? When will it stop? Where will it all end up?
So we have the unknowns, but Christians believe that we have a number of knowns which mean we can look to the future with hope.
God has kept His promises in the past: There are many, many examples but thinking of Christmas, here’s a promise made over 700 years before Christ was born, predicting His birth in Bethlehem, “But you, Bethlehem… out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Micah 5:2
God has clearly demonstrated His love. We all go through experiences where we may feel unloved – however true or not – that’s how we feel! In a world with so much pain, how can we know that God loves us? God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
These examples of knowns for the Christian, don’t answer every question, but they give us a solid basis for trusting God, even in the face of the unknowns. From the Bible we see that God has promised a day ahead when justice will finally be demonstrated. At that time all the frustrating unknowns will be swallowed up in a glorious new start!
There’s a dear elderly lady in our congregation who is suffering from terminal cancer. There are unknowns ahead for her. Yet her confidence and joy is due to her reliance upon the knowns: that God keeps his promises; that God has demonstrated his love to her and for her – and for you!
Carl Meachem, December 2004