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Certain Thoughts on Uncertainty

certainty faith uncertainty Oct 25, 2020

By Joey O'Connor

For the past eight months, our modern media has been banging one loud drum with a phrase that has not sat well with me. 

What's the phrase, you ask?

Drumroll please with thundering dramatic underscore...

We are living in times of unprecedented uncertainty.

Who uses the prefix "un" two times in a row? 

It makes for good alliteration, but poor English.

"Un" meaning "not" is designed to give a negative spin on future outcomes.

Which you and I have absolutely no control over.

Yes, a virus can kill you.

Yes, you may have already or will possibly lose your job.

Yes, inequality, rioting and violence in the streets is upsetting.

Yes, partisanship is at an all-time high.

Yes, your presidential candidate may lose.

But uncertainty is not our problem. 

Living with an "un" worldview is. It is something that must be undone.

Let me explain...

Several months ago, I discovered something disturbing about myself: I am guilty of fortune telling. A fortune teller's tool of choice is a crystal ball. One morning, I realized that in many areas of my life, it is as if I walk around holding an invisible crystal ball in my hand.

I am always trying to peer into the future. Always trying to figure out how things will work out. Always wondering how "This scenario" or "That scenario" will play out.

When I catch myself peering into my crystal ball, three Hydra-like heads appear...

The terrible triplets of fear, worry, and anxiety.

One thing is for certain: I'm a terrible fortune teller. 

You do not want me to be your psychic.

Save yourself a lot of money and do not call my 1-800-Hotline.

Once I realized I was lugging around that crystal ball, my response was, "Wow...Lord, I really do that, don't I?"

I honestly had to repent, let go of my crystal ball omniscience , and ask God for a renewed faith to be content walking with Him one day at a time. 

If you spend much time in the scriptures, one thing is certain...

You and I are called to walk by faith.

"For we live by faith and not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7

Faith calls us to live within the realm of uncertainty with absolute certainty that God's Story ends well.

Our real problem (mine, at least) is the desire to live with absolute certainty...the wrong kind of certainty that looks a whole lot more like clamoring for control.

Faith, not certainty, is the main point. The whole point. Nothing, but the point.

In Christ, though we may wrestle with doubt and fear, you and I live with far more certainty than we realize.

I wrote about this in the opening chapter of The Longing: Embracing the Deepest Truth of Who You Are.

You are unconditionally loved by God. 

You have the attention and affection of God the Father.

You are forgiven in Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit lives in you. 

God is for you, not against you. (Psalm 56:9)

On and on, God's word is filled with very, very certain promises designed to give you and I peace, confidence and assurance in supposedly "uncertain" times. 

And yes, by all means, for those who are sick, suffering and bearing unspeakable burdens, we are to offer the grace and compassion of Christ to those in need.  

I close on this point: As a farmer of our 12 acre organic grove, I live with a lot of uncertainty. We've battled years of California droughts, then too much rain, Santa Ana winds that knock our avocados to the ground, Asian fruit flies that threaten to destroy our organic lemons, worrying if this year will be better than the last, and fretting over if we'll have enough money to pay our bills?

If you want certainty, don't be a farmer. 

A farmer's life is anything, but certain.

But, when I read this encouraging scripture in Habakkuk 3:17-19, I am unraveled by these words, which offer me a choice for how I chose to live with uncertainty:

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

This is certain: The Sovereign Lord is your strength.

You can go further on and further in.

Higher and higher.

You certainly can.

What are your thoughts on certainty? Or uncertainty? 

Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.

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