Silence, darkness, mystery. Scrooge sees no light with this Phantom (notice how this Ghost is referred to throughout Stave four). The future is shrouded; it is dark; it does not speak to us. So the Phantom is appropriate.
While, in one sense, we do not know the future, in another sense, we, as Christians, are called to live in the very reality of a sure future. That is what faith is: living in light of the confidence of God’s promises to us. I realize that is not Dickens’s point here. Dickens is making change possible for Scrooge. If the images that the Phantom is about to show Scrooge are set in stone, what reason does Scrooge have to change? We, however, are not Scrooge, and the sure future I am talking about is not the temporariness of this world.
The people of faith in Hebrews 11 saw something better than their current situation. This allowed them to live in their current situation in such a way that others might believe—or mock. Interestingly enough, we will see this idea of living despite others’ laughter in Stave five. The men and women of Hebrews 11 saw with spiritual eyes a reality more permanent than the harsh reality they lived in. And living as if the future reality is more binding than the current reality is called faith.
We are called to be people of that kind of faith. So as we venture into Stave four and the Ghost of Christmas future, may we look “further in and further up,” as C.S. Lewis would say. And may we live today knowing the reality of the promises of God.