"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.' But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil" (James 4:13-16).
We often like to plan for the future. It gives us a sense of security knowing what is coming next and working toward a certain goal. But we do not know what is coming next. Our best plans could be in vain. Many things could happen that are beyond our power to control that can completely change our life.
Our life is uncertain. James reminds us that our time on this earth is as "a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." Events in our life are uncertain. Instead of saying, "we will go to such and such a city," we should say, "if the Lord wills." After all, He is the one in control.
Failure to recognize how little control we have over the events that impact our life constitutes arrogance. We are nothing. We should not think that our plans are set in stone. This is not to say we shouldn't make plans. James isn't teaching that at all. Make plans. But condition them with the phrase, "if the Lord wills."
While we might feel secure "knowing" what our future holds, realizing that we cannot know what will come tomorrow can cause anxiety and fear. But though I am not in control, it is not as if no one is in control. God is in control. So we should not be anxious about the future. Jesus said, "do not worry about tomorrow" (Mt. 6:34). Regarding the necessities of life, Jesus said, "your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Mt. 6:32-33).
If you ever feel overwhelmed or tempted to worry about what life may bring, remember you can cast "all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:7). Remember the words of the apostle Paul: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).