The one common factor of this virus crisis is the uncertainty of it all. The guidelines change each week about who can gather, where we can go. We do not know if our children will be able to finish the school year, if we will get back to work anytime soon. I did an interview yesterday in which I was asked, “What does an extended shutdown mean for the future of your church?” Honestly, I don’t know. Nobody does.
If you are feeling unsure, unsettled, uncertain – please do not think that your faith is faulty. Uncertainty can be a gift to us! How so, you ask? As unpleasant as it may be to live with, uncertainty is a kind of suffering that reminds us of a simple truth- “I am not God!” Recent events have shaken many of us to the core. Our robust economy hit a brick wall and is crumbling before our eyes. Millions of us are staring into a thick fog that obscures the future. My prayer is that we will respond by looking to the Father, humbly willing to wait with trust.
Some of the most obnoxious Christians are those who claim to know every detail about what God is doing, about why things happen, and about just exactly how we can get Him to do what we want Him to do. I do believe that God speaks to us but I am deeply skeptical of that person who loudly announces, “I have a word from the Lord for you” without admitting that they are fallible, without allowing for the fact that they could be confusing their will with His. A little modesty about our limits of knowledge goes a long way to creating credibility for our faith.
In reading the book of Job, a difficult book of the Bible, among the many lessons I find there is one about uncertainty. In case you’re not familiar with the outline of the story. Job was a great guy who really loved God. Satan appears before the Lord and says that Job only loves God because he is so blessed and prosperous. God knows Job’s heart and allows Satan to test the man to limits, taking everything but his life. In the middle of his suffering, three friends show up to offer comfort. They are absolutely certain about God’s ways, so they think, and they tell Job that all of his pain and suffering must be the result of some hidden sin. “If you would just confess it, God will restore you,” they insist. They are full of certainty, and they are wrong!
Job, on the other hand, is full of uncertainty. He complains about the injustice, cries out to God about why He has hidden Himself, wonders why God has done him wrong. When God finally speaks, He does NOT commend the absolute certainty of Job’s friends. In fact, He is angry with them for saying things about Him that are not true. It is Job’s faith, in the middle of his doubts, his willingness to keep on talking with God, that the Lord commends. God sees more faith in Job’s honest doubt than he does in the other men’s declarations of which they are so certain.
If you are struggling with uncertainty today, let it do the work of building character. Frederick Buechner offers this picture – “Whether your faith is that there is a God or that there is not a God, if you don’t have any doubts you are either kidding yourself or asleep. Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.”
We trust God even when we are confused by the things happening around us. Even when I am unable to see what He is up to, I am willing to commit myself, without any reservation, to His care.
John Ortberg writes “There are times when a decision will require a commitment when we don’t have total certainty. For the most important decisions in life, this is almost always the case.” (Faith and Doubt) How true. We fall in love and marry a person – making unequivocal promises – “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness, in health; until death do us part.” We pledge lifetime love having no idea what they may do, who we may become. Why do we do it? Because we love a person and our love inspires a faith for the future. (Another subject, but if we took those vows more seriously, understanding the real nature of love, we might slow down the trip to the altar, right?)
Knowing, serving, and loving God does not require us to have complete certainty about everything. Faith invites us to love a Person who has shown Himself trustworthy. Will we?
Here is a word from the Word.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the Lord and turn your back on evil.
Then you will gain renewed health and vitality.” (Proverbs 3:5-8, NLT)
One of my favorite worship songs from recent times. Enjoy.
Build My Life (A great song that points us to real faith in the Builder)
Worthy of ev’ry song we could ever sing
Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You
Jesus the name above ev’ry other name
Jesus the only one who could ever save
Worthy of ev’ry breath we could ever breathe
We live for You We live for You
Holy there is no one like You
There is none besides You
Open up my eyes in wonder and show me who You are
And fill me with Your heart
And lead me in Your love to those around me
I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken
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