As I write these words not long into a new year, I can’t help but reflect back on a year unlike any other I can remember. Never have I seen a period of so much suffering and death. And yes, I realize this was nothing like previous periods of world wars and their immense misery, but by any measure the last year or two have been awful.
In recent months three friends in my church family have died of Covid and three others succumbed to cancer after long struggles. The teenage son of some dear friends died as a result of injuries from a traffic accident caused by a negligent driver. Another friend passed away from a different long-term illness.
Many others have dealt with severe sickness, hospitalizations, job losses, accidents and other trials. If all that weren’t enough, my own mother went to her rest, although at the ripe old age of 92 and in reasonably good health until her last few days.
With the track record of the last year multiplied millions of times over in lives all across the globe, it’s no wonder that people feel so beaten down, depressed and hopeless. If we let our minds dwell on it, these could certainly seem like hopeless times.
This last year has been a struggle for many, myself included. But the title of this magazine, Beyond Today, points us to a different time and different circumstances. It points us beyond today to the wonderful future promised in God’s Word when Jesus Christ will return to establish the long-awaited Kingdom of God on earth and banish the Satanic and evil causes of so much sin, suffering and death in the world.
Jesus Christ came bearing a message called the gospel —a word meaning “good news.” And His message truly was good news! It was the same message the biblical prophets before Him proclaimed, the good news of a world-ruling Kingdom in which, so unlike today, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
Many articles in Beyond Today highlight how different that coming world will be from our world today. We live in a world filled not with the knowledge of God, but with sin and the suffering that is the result of our blindness to and rejection of the knowledge of God.
So our message in Beyond Today is one of hope. In the model prayer He gave His disciples, Jesus Christ instructs us to pray to God, “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2, emphasis added throughout). That should always be a focus of our prayers. He also tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33)—always making becoming a part of that Kingdom the focus, goal and highest priority of our lives.
And this is a crucial key to coping with the circumstances of this life that at times can seem so depressing and hopeless. When we seek first God’s Kingdom, and by studying His Word come to understand His plan and the prophetic future the Bible lays out for mankind, we realize there’s much more to our existence than this life alone.
We realize that suffering, illness and death are not the end of the story, but that God has planned a glorious future for every human being who has ever lived who is willing to surrender to God’s plan for him or her. As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9 (quoting and paraphrasing from Isaiah 64:4): “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Living in accordance with that hope and future, trusting God’s promises and striving to obey and please Him, is key to walking with God as described in this issue. Our hope and prayer is that you will take the articles in this issue to heart and faithfully learn to walk with God in these times of trouble—pressing on with Him to that wonderful time beyond today!