Yesterday, we were waiting with bated breath as Boris Johnson deigned to tell us whether he would be lifting all lockdown restrictions as of 21st June. Spoiler alert: they aren’t. Of course, I am not really spoiling anything because it was all leaked to the papers anyway, making the announcement itself entirely redundant. We knew exactly what was going to be said before he said it.
Now, it bears saying that the government never promised – despite what many people seem to have heard – that they would definitely be lifting the restrictions on 21st June. Ever since the roadmap was created they were very clear that 21st June was the earliest that restrictions might be released. All three previous steps of the roadmap happened on the earliest date stipulated. This is the first time they have determined that the earliest date of release will not be the actual date of release.
This, of course, hasn’t stopped people suggesting the government have lied to them. This, however, is one of those rare occasions where it seems they haven’t. The problem, of course, is that the goalposts for various things have been moved so many times during the last 18 months – sometimes without actually telling anybody – that it is easy to see why people feel as though this is all part of a piece.
But the government aren’t omniscient. They simply do not know everything that can, will and would happen if circumstances were different. They rely on predictive models, that themselves rely on a combination of expert opinion, known facts, educated guesswork and outright assumptions. So, when they make pronouncements about what will be – just like when any of us make pronouncements to our children as parents – the unspoken, underlying assumption is that such will be true barring any major catastrophes or things not going to the expected plan. None of that stops our children, nor apparently many of us, from crying and saying, ‘but you promised!’
But when you don’t know the future, this is what happens. You make predictions and you make plans around those predications. We assume most the things that have always been the case will continue to be the case and we plan accordingly. But sometimes our predictions are just wrong and so our plans go awry.
I was set to thinking about how glad I am that God doesn’t move the goalposts because he is omniscient and omnipotent. God doesn’t merely respond to events like we do, he creates them. He doesn’t merely know what is going to happen, he orchestrates them. God is not caught by surprise by events, he is the one who remains sovreign over them.
It is because of this we can trust him entirely. He doesn’t make promises and fail to keep them because he ensures the events that need to happen to fulfil them come to pass. He doesn’t need to move the goalposts on us and fudge what he promised because he is able to bring them all to pass. We can be sure that when he says something will happen, it will. When he promises something, it will definitely come to pass. We will never be caught saying, ‘but you promised’ to God.