Responding to uncertainty

Uncertainty is a fact of life. I’m reminded of the saying: nothing is certain but death and taxes. These days, things that I once saw as certainties – like America’s democracy or ample supplies of goods and services –  are not certain anymore. I never imagined that I would live through a global pandemic or an attempt to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from one U.S. president to the next. Yet here we are.

Uncertainty was the topic of a recent sermon at my church. After the last supper, the disciples argued about which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:24-30). Jesus had just told them that he would suffer and that one of them would betray him. The disciples initially responded to this uncertainty with pride and self-interest.

The message of the sermon was that uncertain times reveal three things about us: our desires, our certainties, and our purpose. I would add that the way we respond to uncertainty reveals a lot about our character.

Some of us have a desire to be first. Some of us have a desire for control. Some of us desire what’s best for others. Some of us want what is best for ourselves. Some of us want God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Some of us don’t want anyone on earth or in heaven to tell us what to do.

What do your desires say about your character? Are you proud or humble, selfish or selfless, judgmental or forgiving? How do you react when your desires aren’t fulfilled? With fear, anger, worry, resignation, hope, resolve?

What are your certainties – besides death and taxes? How about the laws of nature or a friend who would never let you down?

I am certain of Christ’s immeasurable love for me. I am certain that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I am certain that he is with me. I am certain that he will work things out for my good. I am certain of eternal life.

My pastor said that in uncertain times, our purpose is revealed when we model Jesus. Jesus served others. He didn’t put himself first even though he had the power to do so. He didn’t avoid pain and suffering but took it on for our sake. He was merciful and compassionate.

My pastor said that the battle ahead is not a physical fight; it is internal. We all feel the angst. We need to be on guard. We need to prepare our hearts and minds for the challenges ahead.

I believe that the forces of evil in this world are using their most effective tool – deception – to wreak havoc and sow division. Look at all the people today who fall for conspiracy theories!

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

I can attest that uncertainty causes internal struggles. The recent decision by the U.S Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade is a perfect example. My desire is that there be fewer abortions because I believe that life is a precious gift from God. At the same time, I have compassion for people who don’t have a relationship with God. I want them to see Christ in me. To model Jesus, my response has to be compassion and mercy not condemnation and judgment.

My pastor left us with a few questions. Do your desires align with God’s? Of what can you be certain? What purpose might God yet reveal?

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