My kids have been hearing about the new virus that’s dominating the news cycle. Like many adults, they hear the word “death” and they are immediately afraid.
“Are we gonna die?” they asked.
I talked to them about statistical probabilities and they just hid their faces in pillows. I told them that many more people have died of the flu, and now they’re just more afraid of the flu.
But then I remembered that the bottom line for me is not whether or not the odds are in my favor. The bottom line is that I choose not to be afraid because I choose to trust that God is in control of it all, including my life.
Can we feel secure among the unknowns?
Francis Bacon, an English philosopher and statesman, was the developer of what became known as the scientific method. Empirical evidence was his game. He was also a devout Anglican, who believed in special revelation from God that can’t be studied in the same way as the natural world.
He understood that our grasp of the earth and the human body is limited. At the same time he is quoted as saying that he had learned to be content with the unknowns. Something in his faith allowed him to be both a seeker of truth and at peace with all he couldn’t understand.
Living with uncertainty has never been my forte. I like things that are sure. As a kid, I was not one to fling myself out over a river on a rope swing until I had seen many other people do it without dying. And even then…let’s just say I spent more time on the shore than flying through the air.
However, if you’ve been alive for a second you know that no matter how much we avoid risk or hedge our bets, life has a way of uprooting us.
Sometimes when we feel most certain of our path, of our health, of our relationships they get shaken up. When the news headlines go wild over viruses, nuclear missiles, or rumors of war (sound familiar? Matthew 24:6), we get to decide how we respond to things we can’t control.
We get to see how sure our spiritual footing really is.
Will we scour the headlines hourly trying to ascertain whether or not to hide in a bunker, safe from a virus?
Will we be emotionally up or down depending on the current statistics?
Will we feel confident or will we feel afraid?
Is shaky faith invalid?
The good news is that wobbles in our faith don’t define us or put us to shame. I just turn to the father in Mark 9 who’s bereft over his son’s condition and incorporates his doubts right into his plea to Jesus – “I believe. Help my unbelief!” he said.
The hallmark of faith is believing in something without seeing it, assenting without totally understanding. Faith has never been about knowing everything, absolutely. That wouldn’t require any faith at all.
So I can take my bite-sized faith and apply it like a bandage wherever things are uncertain. I can apply it to the daily news, to my marriage, to the future of my children, to my career.
It is an active choice I make when everything in the world is telling me I’m supposed to be afraid. I choose faith, not because of what I see but because I believe in a good God I can’t see.
How do I find stability in times of uncertainty?
When I feel most unsure, I can take some steps to clear a path in my mind and heart so that I don’t get overwhelmed.
Commit to pray, every day, over the difficulties or stresses of my life.
When I verbally relinquish my sense of control and ask for help, it lifts the burden from my own shoulders.
Make a conscious choice to seek wisdom.
This might look like prayer, counsel from a wise friend or mentor, or scripture. It might also mean reading or watching less news when it’s causing stress.
Rest in the promises God has made.
He is always with me. He will see me through, no matter how uncertain my circumstances seem or how difficult they may become.
Spending time surrounded by God’s truth, instead of my own thoughts, worries, and anxieties, is vital to moving out of a place of fear and uncertainty and into a place of calm and, even certainty.
What am I certain about? Not whether or I not I will get a particular virus. No one can guarantee that. But I am certain that God will see me through, and I am certain that my hope for eternity lies in him alone. That’s where my peace comes from.