Jo Acharya | April 28, 2022
This is part 1 of a short series on God and Uncertainty.
I can’t remember the last time I felt certain about the future. These last few years have brought crisis after crisis, and so many of the normal things we take for granted have been thrown into doubt. It’s been exhausting, hasn’t it? Many of us have found ourselves struggling with stress and anxiety, often for the first time. So how do Christians handle uncertainty? And how do you trust God in difficult times, when everything seems to be going wrong?
There is so much to say on this topic, but here are three Biblical truths that can strengthen our faith in uncertain times.
It can really shake our faith when things go wrong. Most of us go through life expecting things to continue more or less as they are, so when bad news comes a sudden shock it can turn our whole world upside down. It’s frightening and disorientating to find ourselves adrift in a new reality that we haven’t planned for. How do you trust God when the future is uncertain and you no longer feel in control of your life?
The truth is that we were never in control – but we know the one who is. The jolt that makes us feel so stressed and anxious and fearful does not come as a surprise to him. His plans haven’t been de-railed. He knows what’s happening, he understands it all better than we ever can, and he is still fully and completely in control.
Perhaps that’s a comforting thought for you, or perhaps it brings up some confusion, hurt or even anger. For me, it’s often a mixture of all of these. And I’m in good company. The Bible is full of people who asked God “Where are you? Why have you let this happen to us? When will you fix things?” They had painful questions, but they could direct them not at a universe of random chaos, but to a personal God who had already shown them his goodness and compassion, and had promised to be with them. They were able to trust God in difficult times because they kept reminding themselves of his power and his love for them.
Trusting God in the battle
Psalm 20 says this:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
People don’t trust in chariots and horses when life is easy! This is battle talk, and it’s a challenge to us. Where will we put our faith in uncertain times, when we’re caught up in our own hard battles?
I’ve started adapting that verse to fit my own situation. I have the lung disease cystic fibrosis, so my biggest ongoing ‘battle’ is my health. I am hugely grateful for the amazing medical care I receive, and during the pandemic I’ve done by best to be careful and avoid infection. But I often need to remind myself that in the end, it’s God who is in control of my life. “Some trust in doctors and some in medication, but I trust in the name of the Lord my God.”
What’s your battle right now? How can you adapt this verse as a reminder to yourself to trust God, who is with you in the middle of it?
What makes you feel peaceful? Perhaps it’s being with a particular person, or in a particular place. Maybe there are things you like to do to feel calm and relaxed. In difficult or uncertain times it can be hard to find a sense of peace. Anxiety and stress rush in, and we may feel like we’re barely hanging on. Where do we find peace when everything is falling apart?
In his letter to the Philippian church, the Apostle Paul wrote this:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Paul knew better than most what it takes to trust God in difficult times. He wrote his letter to the Philippians from prison, not knowing how long he would be there, or whether he would end up being released or executed. He had lived through shipwrecks, beatings, accusations and slander, yet his faith remained confident and assured. If we’re asking, ‘How do Christians handle uncertainty?’, we should definitely listen to his advice.
There are so many things in life that can make us feel anxious and afraid, and often they’re things we can’t do anything about. When the worries come, we can let them take over, or we can choose to hand them over to God, tell him how we’re feeling and ask him for help.
This isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a habit to keep going back to God again and again, opening our hearts to him every day, every hour, or even every few minutes if we need to! The things we can’t control are not ours to hold onto. They are God’s to carry.
Peace in uncertainty
When we hand our worries over to God, Paul says he gives us his peace. But what does that mean? We might expect a calm, relaxed feeling, but it’s much deeper and long-lasting than that. God’s peace rests on the foundation of our friendship with him. We know him, and we know that whatever happens we are safe in his hands. This is how Paul could say earlier in the same letter, ‘For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Philippians 1:21). Even the danger of death could not take away Paul’s peace!
What worries do you need to hand over to God today? Where in your life do you need to know his peace?
The truth that Paul had absorbed into his very core was that whatever happens to us in this life, we are looking forward to an amazing future with God. He was able to keep his faith during uncertainty, hardship and suffering because he saw these troubles as ‘light and momentary’ compared to the ‘eternal glory’ that awaited him on the other side (2 Corinthians 4:17).
How much time do you spend thinking about what that eternal glory will be like? For many of us ‘heaven’ is a vague, otherworldly concept. When I was a child I for some reason pictured in my mind a giant yellow room! But the descriptions of eternity in the Bible are far more familiar than we might guess. If you feel rather attached to trees and lakes and sunsets and even cities, you’ll be happy to learn that earth has a future too. Revelation 21 says this:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had disappeared. Now there was no sea. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, “Now God’s home is with people. He will live with them. They will be his people. God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more sadness, no more crying, and no more pain. All the old ways are gone.” The one who was sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”
This picture of eternity is physical, grounded. It’s not clouds and harps but this world – remade, reborn and freed from the destructive effects of sin. Imagine the final scene of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, where the enchantment is lifted and the gloomy castle is transformed into a bright white palace. Best of all, we will finally see God face to face. So if you’re wondering how to trust God when the future is uncertain, one answer is to look even further into the future: to the certain promise of eternity with him. Just spending a few minutes dwelling on the wonders that await us will often be enough to lift our spirits and revive our faith.
In Colossians 3:2 Paul tells us to keep focusing our eyes on the ‘things above’ – the things that will last forever. When we’re struggling to trust God in difficult times and to hold onto our faith during uncertainty, it’s so important to remind ourselves of the things that never change – God himself, his faithful love for us, and the rock-solid hope of our future with him.
How do you imagine eternity? Why not spend a few minutes thinking about it now?
Remember the truth
This life is unpredictable, and it’s so easy to be fearful of the unknown. But we are not at the mercy of blind chaos. Reminding ourselves of God’s power, his peace and his promises to us can strengthen our faith in uncertain times.
If you’re weary and struggling in your faith right now, have a look at my book ‘Refresh‘. It’s a gentle weekly devotional that will help you to dwell on God’s goodness and his faithful presence with you, even when life is hard. Get a signed copy from our store, or pick it up on Amazon (affiliate link).