Being Certain In an Uncertain World
Ever since the fall of mankind, uncertainty has challenged the human heart. Ancient Israel wandered in the wilderness for years (Numbers 14:33). When the Lord was here in the flesh, He did not have a certain place to call home (Matthew 8:20). The apostle Paul wrote, “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace.” (I Corinthians 4:11). It has never been unusual for God’s people to be under attack and thus suffer uncertainty on many levels. Hebrews 11:37-38 says of some of the faithful, “They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”
Perhaps none of us have felt uncertainty to the extent of those mentioned in the previous paragraph, but it is certain that those of us who have lived any length of time at all have indeed felt it. Uncertainty is nerve-wracking. It can cause us to lose our focus. It can hamper our ability to concentrate. It can make us irritable. It can even test our faith. How, then, do we develop certainty in an uncertain world?
We develop certainty by first of all understanding that life is uncertain. Granted, this has already been said in this article but it bears repeating. Too often we misplace our confidence. We are sure that something is going to turn out a certain way. That is confidence in our own weak and limited knowledge. When it doesn’t turn out the way we thought it should, we get frustrated, discouraged and perhaps even depressed. This is not to say that we should not make plans or that we should not have confidence in the abilities that God has given us. It is saying that we should recognize that, at our very best, we make mistakes that can produce different outcomes than we were expecting. It is also saying that sometimes circumstances beyond our control change an outcome, sometimes drastically beyond what we ever anticipated. Robert Burns said, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” James urged, “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (James 4:15). Rather than being unbendable when it comes to living our daily lives, our mindset should be fluid and ready to adapt to change.
Closely tied to the previous point is the fact that, while we are limited in our knowledge, we serve the God who is not (Psalm 139). To develop certainty in an uncertain world, we must remember that our mental and emotional firm foundation is the knowledge that God is the source of true certainty. Everything around us may crumble, but God will still be near (Malachi 3:6). “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2). The Lord knows what His children need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8). When our minds quake with uncertainty, we should reach out in prayer and in study of God’s Word to regain our footing and find our stability. He has never left His people, even in what might seem to be the darkest hour, and He never will (Hebrews 13:5).
One final thought regarding being certain in an uncertain world has to do with our attitudes. Certainty comes from being thankful for what we have rather than worrying about what we don’t have. Paul expressed that concept. He wrote, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:11-13). Uncertainty, shakiness, worry and doubt grow in hearts that are always focused on what they don’t have. Certainty, confidence and emotional steadfastness grow in the hearts of those who appreciate what they have and who realize that even though everything on earth will someday leave their grasp, they will exchange the things of this earth for heavenly treasure that is certain and eternal (Matthew 6:20).
We CAN be certain. We CAN walk confidently through each day. We simply need to set our hearts on things above where certainty exists (Colossians 3:1-2).