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Predictions and Forecasts … or… Presence and Providence

One has to wonder why anyone would choose to become a meteorologist. They are by far one of the most maligned groups of professionals. How many times have you heard someone say, “It must be nice to get paid to be wrong 50% of the time.”? Penn State has one of the top meteorology programs in the country. Those students are proud scientists, but they are also the butt of many a joke on campus. Every morning, I check the weather app on my iPad to see the temperature and the weather forecast for the day. I scroll to see what kind of weather is coming for the week. My app even offers a glimpse several weeks out, and I am foolish enough to look at those predictions. But, like many of you, I take the information from my weather app with a large grain of salt! I know that the snow predicted for Saturday could easily melt into a brilliantly sunny day. But still, I check those forecasts every day… Our fascination with weather keeps us watching for meteorologist’s every prediction, even though we seldom trust what they say.

Yet, while we make fun of meteorologists for their “accuracy”, there are so many professions whose forecasts also have varying degrees of success- economists, sports analysts, political pundits, financial advisors, doctors, and scientists. Economists cannot seem to agree on whether we are in a serious economic downturn or just a momentary dip while the nation recovers from this latest surge of COVID infections. Sports analysts offer us a read of the field of play but cannot predict the human factors of drive and injury. Political pundits often create more noise than information, attempting to sway sentiment toward their predictions. Even financial advisors sell their services with the disclaimer that “investment carries the risk of loss.” When our doctor gives us a life-altering diagnosis, we want to know the plan and the odds, and we expect that our doctor will design a plan that will improve the odds. We expect these professionals to see beyond today, to accurately predict tomorrow, allowing us to make our plans accordingly. But what happens when they are wrong?

For almost two years we have listened to the predictions of political leaders and scientists as they have tried to help our nation navigate a pandemic. Do you remember when we were told that the lock-down was for two weeks… and then two months… and then when the warm summer months come… and when the vaccine is ready…? How often have people gotten angry at our leaders because once again they have missed the mark? Yet, why do we expect God-like foresight from human scientists who are facing this phenomenon for the first time? They are smart… really smart… but not clairvoyant. Their leadership has been essential in guiding us through uncharted waters, but it has not been perfect. They are still learning, and there is still much we do not know. If only we had one of those convex mirrors that help you see around the corner!

Actually we have something much better than any trick mirror. We know the One who has gone before us into every challenge. When Joshua faced the “giants” in the Promised Land, God gave him an important promise:
Be strong and courageous… for the Lord goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:7-8
That promise stretches across the ocean and the annals of time, to be God’s Word to us today. That challenge you are facing, God has already gone before you into those troubled waters, to prepare the way for you. As God prepares the way, He also promises to walk with you along the way, every step of the way. God’s presence… God’s providence… God’s provision is all we need as we face the challenges of life. God has entered the operating room before the first scrub nurse arrives to prepare the surgical trays. God has entered the classroom before your child has opened her eyes to meet the day. God has stepped through each challenging doorway ahead of you to prepare the way. And then God has promised to circle around to go with you every step of the way.

Human predictions and forecasts may miss the mark, but God’s guidance is always spot on. And His guiding hand comes with grace and love beyond anything you can imagine. So check your app and read the commentary offered by the smart people around you, but put your trust in the only One who knows what is really coming around the bend and has promised to be there every step of the way.

With you, hand in hand with the Savior,
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