In this life, uncertainties abound. Are you looking for a job? Have you recently graduated from school? Or applied to a school? Or perhaps you don't know when your next meal will be or how you are going to buy your child that pair of shoes or clothing he or she needs.
We may trick ourselves for a while into thinking we know exactly what’s going to happen next, only to realize and re-realize that so much of life seems outside of our control. How do we face these uncertainties without being overcome with anxiety? Here are five things to remember and meditate on when uncertainty threatens to overwhelm you.
1. Remember God's faithfulness throughout history.
The Biblical stories showcase God's faithfulness to his promises. My personal favorite is the story of Abraham. Called by God to leave his home and be a wandering nomad, Abraham lived with uncertainty every day. Where was he going? How was God going to provide him with a son? What if he was killed or taken into slavery by a foreign king? The most important part of Abraham’s story is not Abraham but God’s faithfulness to care for Abraham. Even when Abraham tried to take things into his own hands, God continued to work his plan for Abraham and Sarah despite the many obstacles. It didn’t happen the way they expected, and it took longer than they would have liked, but God did what he promised and provided for Abraham. Reading these stories shows us that God is a God who can be trusted to do what he promises and provide what we need. While the future is uncertain to us, the future is never uncertain for God.
2. Remember God is working even when we can’t see it.
Just because something didn’t happen the way we wanted it to or the way we imagined does not mean God has left us or forgotten about us. On the contrary, God is working in and through everything in our lives even when it seems he is absent. Again we can turn to the biblical story for evidence and comfort. Israel was promised a Messiah who took hundreds of years to finally come. However, as God reminds them through his prophet Jeremiah:
I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11).
This future and hope finally came in God’s incarnate Son Jesus. God works through normal, everyday circumstances to bring about his plans for our lives, just as he did for his most important work, his plan of redemption. The Bible also tells us that while our knowledge is limited, God’s knowledge, wisdom, and power are unlimited (Job 9:4-10). God’s work is often hidden from us and is brought about in ways that we don't see and often least expect.
3. Remember God's provision for the rest of creation.
When uncertainty and fear threaten to overwhelm us, take a look at creation. The sun rises and sets, rains fall, and animals have food and shelter. The natural world tells us about God's loving and constant provision.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you. (Matt. 6:25-30)
If God provides these things for his creation, he will certainly provide for his beloved people. God’s abundant love so provided for us that he sent his own Son into the world to free it from death (Jn. 3:16). If he does not hold back even his own Son, how much more will he give us what we need for our everyday existence?
4. Remember God always has a plan and it is always good.
Some people like to make plans while others like to live by the seat of their pants. Either way, the apostle James reminds us that ultimately God is in control of our lives.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring…. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (Jm. 4:13-15)
God works all things for our good (Rom. 8:28). All good gifts, even every breath we take, come from him, including things that don't seem like good gifts. When our plans don't go as planned, even then he is working to bring our lives closer to him. His infinite wisdom sees what we cannot see (Prov. 16:9).
5. Remember God has provided a secure eternal future.
Ultimately he works all things so that we would not lose our heavenly inheritance for we are heirs, “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17). The inheritance is the kingdom of God and it is yours. Christ secured an eternal future for his people that is as certain as the bread we eat and wine we drink when we celebrate his death and resurrection in the Lord’s Supper. When times are uncertain and we are tempted to worry, meditate on this certainty, that our God is a God who is always in control and who never lies or deceives us (Tit. 1:1-3).
Our comfort through uncertainty is God’s unfailing and faithful love. He loves us and cares for us enough to faithfully bring us through this life into his kingdom, as he did for his Son through the resurrection (1 Cor. 15). There, all our desires will be met and we will live the best of lives.