“You hope for the best and work with what you get.”
(in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”)
The leader of S.H.I.E.D. in Marvel’s universe is the master of planning, hoping, and then dealing with whatever the situation throws at him. In the Marvel universe of movies, you see Nick Fury pop up at various points with the reminder to work the situation and not be paralyzed by what you don’t have.
In some ways, the Bible’s wisdom is congruent with the seemingly unpredictable Nick Fury. We read in Ecclesiastes 11:1-6:
1 Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return. 2 Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. 3 If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie. 4 Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap. 5 As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. 6 Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.
Ecclesiastes 11:1-6, NIV
Our human author, King Solomon in Israel, was involved in various types of business ventures. It is how God’s promise to give him wealth unfolded before the eyes of a watching world. Just a few weeks ago, I heard a financial guru remind his followers that you need four revenue streams to become a millionaire. Solomon said it first and his number was “seven—yes, in eight”.
True though that information is, it’s not Solomon’s overall point. The point is found in the recurring phrase “you do not know” (verses 2, 5, and 6). There is a lot we do not know.
Three months ago, who knew the mess United Airlines would found itself in today?
One year ago, who knew Donald J. Trump would be president of the United States?
Nineteen years ago, who knew Google would be a search engine and a verb?
Twenty years ago, who knew Apple would be the pinnacle of the tech world?
Thirty years ago, who knew the Internet would become as ubiquitous as it is?
There is a lot we don’t know because we can’t tell the future. And this can cause us crippling fear and uncertainty. Yet, we are not off the hook for paying attention and working hard. And this is what the Holy Spirit through Solomon’s ink and quill is telling us.
We hope for the best but work with what we’ve got. We plan well and work hard knowing ultimately the Lord is in control. Life is an adventure with many twists and turns. This is why we need the Lord’s comfort and peace along the way.
What do you have in your hands right now?
What do you have in your head right now?
What dreams do you dream?
That’s what you hope for. Now by the Lord’s grace, work with what you’ve got—just get out and start working!