You never know

April 4, 2022

Look at the nations!  Observe!  Be astonished! Wonder!  Because I am doing something in your days – You would not believe if I told you. (Habukkuk 1:5)

As a history teacher, I tried to help my students put our current world configuration into perspective.  It can be challenging to keep in mind that our country, the United States, has only been a nation for less than 250 years.  That is nothing, a drop in the bucket compared to some of the long lasting dynasties and peoples.  After all, China has existed as an empire and then a state for more than 3,000 years and probably much longer if you go back before written records.  The Roman Empire lasted almost 1,500 years. I have always reminded my students to never assume that the United States would always exist.  Democracy is a fragile entity.  And when the attack on the Capital occurred last year, I had first-hand confirmation of how easy it would be for our country to collapse.

We quickly get lulled into the feeling that things will always be the way they are now.  We like to feel like we have some semblance of control over how our lives go and our country goes.  I think the pandemic took a big chunk of that confidence away.  But we still feel it.  I think that our language in church unwittingly reflects how we think we are the ones in control rather than God.  We pray using such terms as we invite You, we allow You, we give You permission as if God couldn’t just totally override our comfortable situations at any time.  I know that the intent is good – we are indicating an openness to what God is doing.  But instead of praying:  God we invite Your presence wouldn’t it be more accurate to pray more like this?  Thank You that You are here with us; help us to perceive You and join You in what You are doing.

We need to get back to the concept that God can do whatever He wants without our permission or control.  If you study biblical history or know much about the  history of the world you will see that more often than not what happens next is unexpected.  Consider Habakkuk 1:5:

Look at the nations!  Observe!  Be astonished! Wonder!  Because I am doing something in your days – You would not believe if I told you.

I remember well listening to a sermon by John Piper about prayer.  It was back in the 1980’s and he was urging us to not give up on prayer.  I distinctly recall him naming oppressive countries and regimes that seemed impossible to ever change:  the USSR, Romania, East Germany, North Korea.  He exhorted us to not give up praying for change because we didn’t believe situations could ever change.  I remember him declaring so loudly that the microphone reverberated throughout the building “How…do…you…know?”  In other words, God is completely free to make nations rise and fall as He pleases.  And sure enough, not that many years later my husband (boyfriend then!) and I were sitting on the couch watching with gaping mouths as the Berlin Wall was torn down before our very eyes

Listen to the words of James:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:13-15

So how do we live with the you never know?  First, with humility and trust, acknowledging that God can and does do whatever He wants. When something devastating and terrible occurs like what happened to our family, we continue to trust in God ,hoping against hope that God knows and has His good purposes.  My belief that my son is alive and well in heaven is what sustains me day by day as I learn to walk with the limp created by the worst thing that can happen to a parent.

  Secondly, with observation of our own lives and situation.  I often ponder why exactly God put me in the time and place He did.  I am an American woman living in the 21st century.  I could have been an Aztec man living 2400 BC. But here I am.  One thing I know to be true is that I have freedoms as an American that others don’t have.  So I should make use of those on behalf of others. I should employ my voice on behalf of the oppressed.  I should travel to other nations to minister there.  And I have sought to do those things.  Another reality of my life in the 21st century  is readily available technology which gives me access to the four corners of the earth.  I try to use this for good and not ill, keeping in touch with people in Kazakhstan and other countries where I used to live, leading online Zoom Bible studies, talking with missionaries across the oceans to encourage them.

Yes, we never know.  Yes, we serve a God who is wild and untameable. The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John 3:8).  Yes, many unexpected and difficult things will happen in our lifetime.  And yes, we can trust the One we don’t always understand.


  1. Thank you Kim. Good words and reminders. I appreciate your words of wisdom.


    1. Kim Aasland says:

      Thanks, Julie!


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