Uncertainty. It’s a word we’re hearing a lot these days. Some of us are feeling uncertain about the current political climate, or about the potential dangers of being in the city on a Saturday night, or the economy, or possibly our jobs, home lives or futures. It seems that people are even uncertain about uncertainty in itself.
I have spent a long time feeling uncertain about my life. It is a consequence of moving on from university, and having to decide which paths I should take. One thing I have found is that uncertainty is not usually an abrupt, lightning-bolt feeling. It often sneaks up on us, permeating our lives until we begin to realise that it’s seeped into every corner of our decision-making. Should I do this? How do I know? Maybe I shouldn’t do it?
Uncertainty also has a tendency to cause division. When we are focused on our own worries, it is hard to remember the struggles and concerns of other people. When uncertainty becomes fear, it brings darkness. It makes us scared of other people, and being scared often leads to distancing ourselves from those different to ourselves, or forgetting the needs of others.
When we are feeling anxious about the future, it can be hard to hold onto the truths of the gospel. God can feel very far away from us, because we are only human. When we cannot comprehend what’s going on, it’s difficult to trust that God, who is so much bigger than our understanding, has the full picture. When things seem irrational and confusing, our trust that God knows our whole story, from beginning to end and everything in-between, starts to dwindle. Nevertheless, the Bible talks about handing over our worries to him:
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Easier said than done, right? It seems to me that deciding to hand things over to God is not a one-time deal. I have a tendency to think ‘yeah, I prayed about that, I’ve handed it over, I’m done’. The trouble is, I often find uncertainty creeping back into my life, whether consciously or not. I begin to feel that I’ve somehow failed, because I tried to give it to God but I’m also still trying to retain control over the situation. Guilt, shame and uncertainty don’t make for a great cocktail of emotion, and I’m pretty sure that’s not what Jesus promised us when he said we would have life to the full (John 10:10).
A friend made a comment about this the other day that has really stuck with me. She said: ‘I don’t think there’s anything wrong with handing things over again. God expects us to do that.’ I think she’s absolutely right. God, who knows every star in the sky and every hair on our heads, knows the depths of our hearts. He knows that we try and we fail. He has already granted us love and freedom in order to do that. So tomorrow morning, when I wake up feeling anxious and uncertain about the future, I am going to pray again for my doubts to fade into God’s unfailing grace. And if, two days from now, I wake up thinking the same thoughts all over again, I will pray the same prayer. How beautiful to know that God’s mercies are new every morning.