At least another 1.75 billion years, according to scientists. However, be warned that between 1.75 and 3.25 billion years from now, Earth will no longer be habitable-our planet will move so close to the sun that our oceans evaporate. At that time we should probably move to Mars, since it will remain habitable until the end of the sun's lifetime, six billion years from now.
Of course, other eventualities could shorten our planet's life. A giant black hole would consume us (though the nearest one is 1,600 light-years away). A microscopic black hole with the mass of Mount Everest would absorb the Earth. A bomb with the energy of the sun's weekly output would blow us to pieces. Firing Mars or Venus at us at 31 miles per second would pulverize our planet, as would a 10-trillion ton asteroid traveling at 90 percent the speed of light. The odds of any of these actually occurring are astronomically small, however. It's probably still safe to buy green bananas.
But just because our planet's future seems assured doesn't mean ours is. Did you hear about the man who woke up in a hunting lodge in Zimbabwe to find an eight-foot crocodile hiding under his bed? Or the creepy clown that looks like one of Stephen King's killer characters and is terrorizing people in Northampton, England?
We have our own fears in America. In the last 20 years, the number of registered poodles has fallen by half. In that time, the number of registered Rottweilers has risen 100 fold. We have twice as many private security officers as public police officers. The average American sees 8,000 murders and 100,000 acts of violence on television by the end of the fifth grade. No wonder psychologists have catalogued 628 different phobias by name.
What do you fear most today? Name that fear now. Then do what God says with it: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). What will happen? "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (v. 7).
How is God able to give us such peace in the midst of our fears? On occasion, I reread Dr. S. M. Lockridge's description of Jesus. Let's close with it today: "He is enduringly strong; he is entirely sincere. He is eternally steadfast; he is immortally gracious. He is imperially powerful; he is impartially merciful. He is the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizons of the globe. He is God's Son; he is the sinner's Savior. He is the captive's Ransom; he is the breath of life. He is the centerpiece of civilization; he stands in the solitude of Himself.
"He is august and he is unique; he is unparalleled and he is unprecedented. He is undisputed and he is undefiled; he is unsurpassed and he is unshakeable. He is the loftiest idea in philosophy; he is the highest personality in psychology. He is the supreme subject in literature; he is the fundamental doctrine of theology. He is the Cornerstone and the Capstone. He is the miracle of the ages."
Now, what's your problem?