it is said that nothing is certain but death and taxes – and even those two things are filled with uncertainty if you ask me. Taxes and tax laws are continually changing, we can never be certain of the amounts we will owe from year to year as tax rates increase or decrease, deductions are added or taken away, the rules change and all the while new taxes seem to appear unannounced just when we thought we had the old stuff figured out.
And death? – death is surrounded by uncertainty. When will it happen? How will it happen? What will cause it? Where will it take place and under what circumstances? And of course, then the uncertainty of death really begins – where do I go when I die? Is death the end? If not, what comes next? What does life after death look like?
We may feel we live in uncertain times what with all the school shootings and church burnings and wars and rumors of wars, but truth is, life has always been this uncertain, ever since Adam and Eve were put out of the garden. What we are experiencing today is nothing new.
Abraham knew about uncertainty but he knew something else as well. When God told Abraham “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”, he did just that. “So Abraham left, as the Lord had told him; . . . they set out for the land of Canaan,” (Genesis 12:1, 4-5) Although the destination of Canaan is supplied here, Hebrews 11:8 tells us, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
Talk about uncertainty! Abraham was asked to leave what he did know, his country, his people, his father’s house and journey to what he did not know in some undisclosed destination. Everything about Abraham’s future was uncertain, where he was going, how long it would take to get there, what conditions he would encounter along the way, what people, what obstacles, – Abraham couldn’t exactly google travel info and weather conditions so he could know what to expect, how to pack, how to prepare. Were there mountains to cross? Deserts? Would there be pasture for his flocks along the way? He would be the alien, the outsider; would he be received well or would they kill him and take his wealth for themselves?
So if everything was so uncertain, why did Abraham obey God’s instruction? Could it be that Abraham knew the only thing certain was God Himself? Genesis 15:6 tells us, “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” Abraham’s faith in God overrode all the uncertainties of his circumstances.
Abraham lived a life of uncertain certainty. I can relate. I do too. I am surrounded by uncertainty in this world and in my daily life. I do not know with certainty what the rest of this day holds for me, let alone the future. But, like Abraham, I know the One who does know. I know the God who said, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.” (Isaiah 46:10)
Uncertainty is no respecter of persons, both the rich and the poor alike deal with uncertainty daily. While the rich are watching Wall Street, wondering if their stocks will gain or lose, the poor are watching and wondering as well; wondering where their next meal is coming from or if they will eat at all today, watching the weather as they wonder where they will seek shelter should it turn cold or stormy.
Living with certainty in an uncertain world would seem to be an impossibility. There is nothing sure, it would seem. Those who achieve fame or fortune live with the uncertainty of how long it will last before it is no longer theirs. Jobs are gained, jobs are lost. Relationships, including marriages, come with no certain promise of lasting. Illness strikes without warning as do hurricanes and tornadoes. We make our plans but there is no certainty that the plans we make will come to pass.
“But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11) This is something I can be certain of amid all the uncertainty that I experience in my daily life.
The secret to living a life of uncertain certainty is found in these words, ” . . . I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12) Yes, ” . . . faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) “For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Now I see “through a glass darkly” but I don’t need to see, I just need to trust the One I am following. For “We live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Living a life of uncertainty is the lot of the human condition here on earth. We may think we are in control as we make our plans, but we are not. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)
Our circumstances are always going to be ever-changing and uncertain. But we can choose to be ” . . . like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)
“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4)
I have no choice about the “uncertain” part of this life I live, but I do have a choice about the “certain” part. I can choose who or what I will follow, who or what I will put my trust in. I can live a life of uncertain certainty because I belong to the One who is certain to keep each and every one of His promises. “Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23)
Like Abraham my daily journey is filled with uncertainty. I do not know the end from the beginning – but I know the One who does, my Heavenly Father. I belong to Him, I follow Him – I am His. And because of this I live a life of uncertain certainty. What a wonderful way to walk through this life! Praise God!
” . . . for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)
sincerely, Grace Day