Uncertainty (part 2)

Does the presence of uncertainty in our lives mean that God’s plan has gone wrong?

In the wilderness God tested the Israelites seeking to teach them to trust in Him and not themselves or other things.

“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” (Deuteronomy 8:2-5)

God has a purpose for us in allowing uncertainty in our lives and so we need to look to Him. What is he teaching us?

Do not worry

Jesus himself in Luke 12 and Matthew 6 talks about not worrying. How can we not worry amidst all the uncertainty? Yet in these passages God gives us several reasons not to worry. Going back to the wilderness theme God provided the Manna for only one day at a time. Jesus is the Bread of Life and in these passages, he talks about not worrying about tomorrow. We need to be looking to Him to provide whatever we need one day at a time.

At the same time, he is the Gentle Shepherd who carries us His lambs close to His heart (Isaiah 40:11). He says very tenderly “Don’t be afraid little flock” (Luke 12:32).

In the book ‘Gentle and Lowly’ by Dane Ortlund there is a lovely illustration:

When my two-year-old Benjamin begins to wade into the gentle slope of the zero-entry swimming pool near our home, he instinctively grabs hold of my hand. He holds on tight as the water gradually gets deeper. But a two-year old’s grip is not very strong. Before long, it is not he holding on to me but me holding on to him. Left to his own strength he will certainly slip out of my hand. But if I have determined that he will not fall out of my grasp, he is secure. He can’t get away from me if he tried.

So with Christ. We cling to him to be sure. But our grip is that of a two-year old amid the stormy waves of life. His sure grasp never falters. Psalm 63:8 expresses the double-sided truth: “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

It is a challenge for each of us to respond to the uncertainties in a way that honours God. Fear and faith often touch as we see in the Psalms, for example. “When I am afraid, I trust in you” Psalm 56:3. We speak our fears and trust at the same time, but fear will never disappear this side of heaven. In our fear we need to turn in prayer to the God who remembers us and is faithful and trustworthy.

Inevitably we are sinful before our Holy God and we need to confess and repent of those ways we have trusted in ourselves and reacted in ungodly ways in the uncertainties around us. In that repentance God will reach out with his Grace and Restore and Renew us.

With our faith we have a day-to-day hope that nothing can destroy:

“Through him you believe in God, who raised him (Jesus) from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:21)

We are in this together as a community of God – His church and we can trust Him whatever the outcome of the situation in church or the pandemic. Ultimately, we have the eternal certain hope:

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21: 3-4)

and that includes no more uncertainty.

For now, there is challenge and comfort in how we can live this out together

Micah 6:8, teaches us how we should be walking together as we go forward in that hope:

“And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God”

And we can comfort each other as 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 says:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

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