Uncertainty, it comes in all shapes and sizes. Some are minuscule: “What should I eat?”, “Should I buy that?”, “Will that place be nice?”. Others are substantial: “What course should I take?”, “Do I go or stay?”, “Who should I marry?”, “Will it ever be ok?”. The minor ones are vexing at the most, the major ones can be paralysing at its worst.
Life is full of uncertainties, it cannot be avoided. We often find ourselves placed in the crossroads of different options to take - and it is all very confusing and frightening. We are afraid to choose wrongly, we are confused by the variety, we are frustrated that we have to choose … it is safe to conclude that the only thing that we can be certain of is that almost nothing is certain.
Of course, this goes against our primal instinct as human beings. We hate uncertainty. Why? Because to a certain extent we all want to be fully in control. You can only be in control when you are certain. Like driving a car: you are in control because you know how the car works (generally) and you know where you want to go and you know the way to get there.
If only life is that straightforward: I know what I should be doing, where I should be going, when things will happen, how it will all turn out and who will be there along the way. But it isn’t.
And it is OK.
In my last piece, I mentioned Genesis 32:22-31 and the defining phrase of the story: “I will not let you go unless you bless me (Genesis 32:26) as well as the intriguing response of the Divine: “You have wrestled with both God and men and won (Genesis 32:28)” The part about wrestling with men - perhaps sometimes our biggest opponent is not necessarily other people but ourselves. The original meaning of the translated Hebrew word here simply means “(a) mortal person”, us included.
Our struggle with ourselves is not just in the area of wanting to do good and not being able to, but also knowing that we shouldn’t be so obsessed about being in control over everything and yet we can’t help ourselves. The problem is: we are limited. There is only so much we know, and there is only so much we can do. We can’t predict or see beyond … hence the uncertainty.
Yet, with God this is actually a perfect position to be in. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that without faith it is not possible to please God and also promises a reward to those who fully trust Him. Get this: uncertainty creates the necessity for faith, and faith is a pathway to blessing. Without uncertainty, there will be no need for faith and hence no opportunity for blessing.
I am convinced that God leaves a gaps in our lives that fuel uncertainty because it would only mean an increase dependability on Him. Let’s be honest, the times when we forget God the most are the times where things are clear and going well - and the times we are often closest to Him are when we are at an absolute lost of what to do.
Our faith is not blind nor futile - in fact it is built on the only thing that is certain - Jesus. He is never changing and ever faithful. He is the one we ought to relinquish control to. We may think we know better, but God always knows the best.
Therein lies the key to true peace and blessing: to be contented to be caught between Who we know and what we cannot yet see. To be comfortably uncomfortable in the intermedium of who God is and what He says He will do. The struggle/wrestle of holding on tightly to the force driving us forward even though our strength is waning and we are tempted to just let go.
If you are faced with many uncertainties today, good news: you are exactly where you need to be - in God’s safe hands.
Let him have the wheel. Allow him to take control.
You on the other hand: sit back and enjoy the ride - as well as the presence of the One who is taking you on this journey.
While you are on that journey of discovery, ask the tough questions; wrestle with the issues; press into prayer. You will find what you are looking for. But once you get there you will realise you haven’t quite arrived. There will be more destinations to go to, more questions to be answered.
Just remember: It is OK - and keep on going.
ps: Don’t worry, Part II “What To Do Next When You Are Unsure” will come soon.