“You do not know what will happen tomorrow” James 4:14

by Steven Chan

For the past one week, the entire nation has been following closely the disappearance of MAS flight MH370 which was on its way to Beijing, China. Many theories have been speculated as to what may have happened to the aircraft. At this moment, in spite of the many nations being involved in the search operation, no one knows what actually happened to the aircraft or whether its crew and passengers are still alive. Our hearts go out to the families of those affected by this unfortunate event. We have prayed and will continue to pray that all will be well for them, and that in their time of distress, they will turn to the Almighty for guidance and comfort.

As we follow the search efforts, let us reflect on what we can learn from this incident.

1. Despite our best laid plans, we are still not in control of our destiny or life on earth.  The Beoing 777 is reported to be one of the most sophisticated and equipped with the state of the art technology. Yet, in spite of all that, there is no trace whatsoever of what happened to the aircraft.  Those who boarded that flight did not expect that their lives would be impacted in such a drastic manner.

Some may have planned their business trip to Beijing just as described in James 4:13: “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”. But the Bible warns us in James 4:14: “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

We may make many plans for our future but we should never forget that “we do not know what will happen tomorrow”. In view of that uncertainty, some have adopted the lifestyle as described in 1 Cor 15:34: “”Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” We can certainly do that – if the dead be not raised! In other words, if there is no after-life, no resurrection of the dead after our lives on earth are over, then we should just “eat, drink and be merry – before we die”.

2. But the truth as revealed in John 5:28-30 is that there will be a resurrection from the dead: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”  In Acts 24:15, the apostle Paul declared to Governor Felix: “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” Knowing that there will be a resurrection from the dead, the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Cor 5:9-11: “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…”

Can we really believe what Jesus said about the resurrection from the dead? Yes we can – because Jesus Himself rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. The Bible recorded in Rom 1:4 that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead”. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then we cannot believe what He said about the resurrection from the dead. But the historical fact and reality is that the tomb of Jesus remains empty; He had risen from the dead – a fact that was testified by many who met him after He rose from the dead as recorded in 1 Cor 15:4-6: “He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once…”

3. Given the uncertainty of tomorrow, the Bible says in James 4:15: “Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”  We must conduct our lives with constant awareness of our dependency upon the Lord and His Will. God must feature prominently in all our plans on a daily basis because we do not have any promise of tomorrow: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” (Prov 27:1)

4. Exhibiting His dependency or faith in God the Father, Jesus spent enormous amount of time in prayer as recorded in various passages such as Mark 1:35: “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” and in Luke 6:12: “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Jesus prayed very early in the morning, and He also spent all night in prayer to God.  The Psalmist said of his own practice of prayer: Psa 5:2-3: “For to You I will pray. 3 My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.”

5. Given the uncertainties of life, we ought always to pray to our Lord and not lose heart as exhorted by our Lord Himself in Luke 18:1.  When we fail to rely on God by failing to pray to Him, then we are in effect “boasting” in our arrogance that we don’t need Him: “But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:16).

Jesus taught that “we must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”(Matt 6:33-34)  Given the uncertainties of life, we need to prioritise the competing demands on our time, money and effort and God’s kingdom must come first – and that is a good that we must do: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin”.( James 4:17)