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There are two characteristics of the human race that have been blazing through my soul recently, partially because both of them are something my heart has been struggling with. The first is that a vast majority of us are unhappy with uncertainty.
The other is that we are constantly occupied with the future. I would like to say that these are many times very related. Our uncertainness about our own future is a huge source of human discontentedness.
Let's take a look at major areas where we can become consumed with our own futures, and hopefully, it will help to recenter your focus and deal with uncertainty.
Weary in our Worry
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
All of us have things we are worried about. We have relationships to keep intact. We have jobs to attend to. We have money problems to fray us to the breaking point. We have tragedies and trials and burdens to carry.
There are many things that we can worry about. This worry comes from a fear of the unknown. What if my marriage starts to crumble? What if I don't get my work report done on time? What if we don't have enough money to pay the rent? What if her cancer doesn't go away? Uncertainty is the most stressful feeling.
This is not to say that our worries aren't founded on legitimate concerns. You may be late on your report. You may not be able to find enough money in your budget for the bills. But just because something is legitimized doesn't mean it is justified.
Let me explain that further. We may FEEL like we have good reason to worry. We can pull up very real reasons why we should worry. Life's struggles and hardships can be crushing. But the only reason we allow those fears to take hold of us is that we forget about the provision and hope we have in Christ. Consider the verse below:
“For this reason, I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?
You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first his kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:25-34
Uncertainty cripples us, but Christ is saying that God is faithful to take care of his children's needs. If we are doing our best, then Christ will cover us in everything else. Now, this doesn't mean that everything will always go well.
Christ also promised hardship. But he will be WITH us. Can you understand how freeing and encouraging that is? You may lose your job, cancer might persist, and you might not get the money you need. But the God of the universe, who crafted everything you see, is beside you and moving in you and around you to draw you closer to him and preserve you in your trial.
There is no uncertainty which we can not boldly walk towards in faith. He knows what we need and he is gracious to give it to us. But even when he doesn't give us what we thought we needed it will be for our benefit in the end, and Christ's help will be more than enough to carry us through uncertainty. As C. S. Lewis says “God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.”
Discontent in Disappointment
"Keep your mind on things above, not on worldly things." Colossians 3:2
Now, Chances are, you've also run into some large disappointment in the last year. This is another area where an uncertainty about life can make us lose sight of our hope in Christ.
It might not have been a life-altering disappointment. It might have been a concert that you really wanted to go to, but at the last second, something more important came up. You've probably been at least a little disappointed even today.
Whether that means not getting the last pop tart, or having to stay up an extra hour to take care of something you had forgotten about.
No matter what it was, most of us don't take these disappointments well. We stew in the what could have been. What SHOULD have been? We get angry and even embittered by the fact we can't have what we assumed we would be able to.
This negative attitude comes from two places. Firstly, from our inability to see the future. You could have never known that something would stop you from going to that concert. So in your head, it was a fixed constant.
It was something that was going to happen and you were genuinely excited about it. It becomes a hope and a desire, that we foster in our hearts. Whereas worry dealt more with a need, desire and disappointment deal with a want.
Second, it comes from an assumption that we deserve or are owed what we believed we could get. You may be working hard, and the thing that got you through all those days was the thought of that concert.
You feel as if you worked for that concert and now it's owed to you. Worry is an over thinking about what we feel we don't deserve, disappointments are when we think too much about what we feel we do deserve.
When we foster these wants we make two critical errors that Jesus warned us about. The first is loving the pleasures, of this world.
"No servant can serve two masters; for either, he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." Luke 16:13
If our minds are focused on the pleasures that we could lose or have lost, then our minds are on the things of this world and not the things above.
Secondly, Christ urged us to deny ourselves of worldly pleasures and to take up the cross of sacrifice and hardship in service to the kingdom.
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." Matthew 16:24
Holding on to our disappointments is completely counter to that call from Christ.
"Don’t love this evil world or the things in it. If you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. This is all there is in the world: wanting to please our sinful selves, wanting the sinful things we see, and being too proud of what we have. But none of these comes from the Father. They come from the world." 1 John 2:15-16
Temporary in Our Trust
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God." Luke 12:13-21
One last problem of uncertainty to consider. Almost everyone plans far ahead into the future. We have a career plan, a dating/marriage plan of some sort, and a retirement plan. We plot out our lives with no knowledge of the future. Now, this can be good and bad. On the one hand, it can be good to have a set goal and purpose.
But on the other very important hand, we can replace our trust in Jesus with these plans. This trust isn't necessarily about worry, although it can be wrapped up in it.
We want a sense of comfort and stability in our lives. We want to know that WE have everything under control. But oh what a lie this is! Since when did we have control of anything?
Since when could we look to our own limited thinking for support? God knows the future. God knows what we need, what will come, and who we should be when we get there. But because we have it all planned out we don't look to God to prepare us for the future.
In fact, our future itself belongs to him. Are we not supposed to do the will of our father? What if suburbia and an early retirement isn't his plan for us? When is the last time we thought about that, Much less prayed about it? And what freedom! To know that our future plans don't stand on how well we can see with a blindfold on. But instead, they stand on the sovereign king who created that future and in whose plan we are meant to subside.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
Safe in Our Surety
We need to give up our worry, let go of our disappointments and the fear of uncertainty, and push past our plans. God has all of it in his hands. If we have the faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains.
But we need not even do that just yet. Right now, we just need enough faith to let go of our molehills. Earnestly ask God in prayer for this trust, and find a new sense of peace in keeping your mind in and your heart on Christ.
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:27
By Gabriel Hatcher
Mind On Jesus