By Patrick Miller
I like to plan, and I like to know what the plan is. I’m okay with the plan changing, but I want to know what’s going on. Right now, I can make a long list of all the things I don’t know. And I know I’m not alone. We hate uncertainty. It’s the worst. We even prefer the certainty of bad news over uncertainty. At least then we’d know how to prepare for it. But despite how we try, we can’t do anything to make all the uncertainty go away. Even when we think we’ve got things figured out, something like (ohh, I don’t know…) a global pandemic happens. And the uncertainty about the future feels insurmountable.
Prefer to listen? Patrick and Keith discuss more about how to handle uncertainty in this episode of Ten Minute Bible Talks.
So how do we handle this uncertainty?
Well, the good news is, this struggle is not unique to us and our current situation. We see people struggling with uncertainty all over the Bible. This overwhelming uncertainty is especially true in the lives of Jesus’s disciples. Imagine what life was like for them in the days following Jesus’s crucifixion. This man that they had left everything for was brutally killed by the Roman empire for insurrection. And they were known to be his followers. The Gospel of John tells us they were huddled away together behind locked doors, trying to guard themselves against their scary, uncertain futures.
In John 20, the risen Jesus appeared to them. And he said four words: “Peace be with you.” This was exactly what they needed to hear. But it was the very thing they had a hard time believing. And we are no different.
What did Jesus mean by, “Peace be with you”? Didn’t he know how crazy things had gotten since his arrest? This was not a peaceful time. We can actually learn a lot about what Jesus meant by thinking about what he didn’t say.
Jesus didn’t say, “Peace be with you because everything will turn out the way you hope.”
Instead, Jesus offers a peace that is not dependent on life going a certain way. This is a good thing. When the peace in your life is not dependent on life turning out the way you want it to, you can have peace in even the most difficult circumstances. Uncertainty doesn’t feel so life-shaking because it’s based on something more sure. This solid foundation for peace is God’s trustworthiness.
When we believe that God is trustworthy, we can hold onto everything that he promises as true. God is with you. He’s at work for your good. He loves you and nothing can get in the way of that. This world is not the end. You have a purpose and a family and a home that will last forever.
When you build your life on things that can be taken away, you’ll be filled with anxiety. You will worry. Because all your fears about losing those things might actually come true.
But when you build your life on Jesus and the things that cannot be taken away, anxiety goes away. You have nothing left to worry about.
Jesus didn’t say, “Here’s the plan. Let me lay it all out for you.”
Instead, Jesus gives the disciples a mission. As much as we want to know what’s going to happen next, that’s not what we need to know. All we need to know is the direction we’re headed.
This is an important perspective because it allows you to turn the obstacles in your life into opportunities. When you know the direction you’re headed and you come across a roadblock, you know what to do. You have to keep moving forward toward your goal. God has a purpose for you that cannot be derailed, so unexpected twists and turns don’t have to be scary.
Walk by faith, not by sight.
Because we know the direction we’re headed, we can move forward in our lives with confidence. This is not because we can see the road ahead, but because we trust God. We have faith in him to keep his promises.
This means that, as uncertain as things might feel in the present, we do know the plan after all. God told us in his promises to us. We know how it all ends: with Jesus as the the victorious king.
Confidence in that future joy gives us the freedom right now to love and serve others without fear of uncertainty.
Just like the disciples, experiencing God’s peace can seem easier said than done. Sometimes we need to hear the truths we know about God again and again, especially in times of uncertainty. In this post, you’ll find a list of sermons, podcast episodes, and articles about trusting God in hard circumstances.