The news headlines point to questions about what will happen next in numerous places around the world and sometimes our own neighborhoods. It would be so nice if we could feel certain about the future or even today. It can be easy to look for any and all ways possible to bring some level of certainty to any area of our lives .
We look for “safe” investments to offset our doubts about the future. We even read labels on food more than ever before to try to find the less risky options on the shelves of our grocery store. We avoid relationships that may not feel or be “safe” from our perspective. We grasp in subtle and not so subtle ways to gain some scrap of control over whatever we can as we recognize the decks are stacked against us in more than a few areas.
For the whole of human history, certainty has not been available. Is that why we sometimes look for it? Reassurance to find certainty in one area or another would ease anxiety.
Uncertainty permeates everything in large part because we cannot know everything about everything. Let’s face it, we can’t even know everything about one thing for certain. New information is discovered every day. People and things are in almost constant change so just when we think we are sure we have all the needed data something shifts.
It could be easy to give up on knowing. That would not be the answer, however. Even though we cannot know everything or anything wholly, it’s important to remember that knowing or learning to know, is a skill. Skills of any kind can be improved by practice. If we persevere in our study or research, we will uncover more pieces to the puzzle, more evidence of reality, or more truth. Then we may not have absolute certainty, but our choices and decisions will be fraught with less risk and greater peace. We will learn to make fewer careless mistakes. Truth based on reality will accumulate to guide us.
To do this means we lay aside our assumptions that are likely to be faulty. How often we later discover that we have been blind in our assumptions and judgments! To do this means we set aside the subtle belief that we know and take a humble position that we may not know. It means we see mistakes as valuable in our quest because of what new insights we gain from them.
Coming to grips with the truth that uncertainty is a “given” permeates and challenges our spiritual life many times. We live with the paradox of knowing as believers that grace grants us salvation and eternity with God while dealing with the disappointment that He does not always answer our prayers as we would wish even if we say “in Jesus name” at the end.
A major choice for each of us is whether or not we will trust the Lord no matter what the headlines shout at us, no matter what the diagnosis we hear, and no matter what the status of our employment. In reality, that is where the rubber meets the road in our faith walk. If we trust the Lord for eternity, can we trust Him for the “now”?
To practice knowing I am reminded of the wise words of Pat Springle in his book, Trusting: The Issue at the Heart of Every Relationship. Pat uses the term “perceptive trust” in his book and defines it this way:
“Perceptive trust entails the ability to objectively discern the trustworthiness of others and the capacity to take the risk of trusting them. People who have learned to exercise perceptive trust grow in wisdom over time and through many experiences, gradually learning when, how, and whom to trust.”
Yes, that definition looks at horizontal connections and relationships, but isn’t there a correlation to our vertical relationship with the Lord?
Later Pat Springle looks at how his definition fits with the Lord and he says that perceptive people “always remember that only God remains 100 percent trustworthy, as well as totally outside of their control.”
You see, uncertainty became a reality when Adam and Eve sought to know as much as God by eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. Before that fateful moment, they trusted Him. The serpent planted a seed of doubt and pride crept in and we live with the result.
Our challenge as New Testament believers is to walk in the truth of the gospel that has been clear since Old Testament days: He is and will be with us…always! Whatever certainty we have is centered in that one true reality if we call Him Savior.