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Trusting God When You’re Trapped in Uncertainty

I used to say that we live in uncertain times. While I still believe this is true, I am starting to conclude that we all live uncertain lives. While God’s truth and our eternal destiny in Christ are certain, many other factors in our lives are a bit unpredictable and unclear at times. It is the nature of the journey.

Trusting God When You’re Trapped in Uncertainty

I suppose today as you read this you face some measure of uncertainty. You may face major questions about your health, your job, your finances, your children, your grandchildren, your church or someone in your circle of friends. Clearly, we cannot avoid uncertainty in this life, but we can respond to it in a Christ-honoring and soul-profiting fashion.

The Search for Clarity

Recently I read a profound interchange documented in a book by the renowned ethicist John Kavanaugh. He tells of a time in his life when he went to Calcutta to work for three months at “The House of the Dying.” This experience was part of his heartfelt search for direction about his future. The first morning there, he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.

“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked. He responded by explaining that he had come thousands of miles from the U.S. to find direction: “Pray that I have clarity.”

She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.” When asked why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for. She laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”

Clarity vs. Trust

There is something in all of us that always wants clarity. It is part of our sinful ego and a common expression of our insecurities. Clarity can become an idol that replaces authentic trust in God. In many ways, we would rather understand the details of the road ahead than rest in deep intimacy with the God who has promised to direct our steps. He has never promised to show us a detailed 10-year plan. Clarity can actually become spiritually counterproductive as it shortchanges trust, a life of faith and moment-by-moment dependence on God.

Scripture tells us, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8). Yes, we must pour out our hearts and all they contain—praise, gratitude, worry, fear, doubt and, yes, uncertainty. God is our in-the-moment refuge, but not always a divine GPS system, spouting the details of every turn we might encounter one year down the road. Thus, we must trust Him at ALL times. We should never assume a life of trust or take God’s refuge for granted.

In the great “faith” chapter (Hebrews 11) we are reminded that trust is strongest when clarity is dim or non-existent. Noah built an ark while waiting for 120 years for an unprecedented rainfall. Sarah was told to trust God for a child in her old age with no clarity as to how such a thing could happen. Abraham went out, “not knowing where he was going” and later planned to sacrifice his own son with no clarity as to why he was called to do this or what the outcome might be. The stories are extensive. The truth is unmistakable. Faith flourishes when we are trusting God at the deepest level with a willingness to let go of our insistence for clarity.

We often want to “chart the course,” but the Bible tells us to walk in the Spirit. We insist on a strategic plan. Jesus says, “Follow me.” We want all the answers. The Lord tells us to trust Him, because of what we know to be true about His character.

A few years ago, I discovered a song by a young Christian musician named Jadon Lavik. The lyrics offer deep encouragement:

“I look around, and what can I do? This place is unfamiliar and new. So I try to look beyond what’s right in front of me. Is hope to be found? How can this be true? Comfort came and left in such a hurry—so that once on the other side of this tragedy… You wake up to find that you’re right where you’re supposed to be—trapped in uncertainty. Each day’s a mystery. You wake up to find that you’re right where you’re supposed to be. The past is unveiled and you see you’re right where you’re meant to be.”

Faith to Seek and Please God

Friend, as you go through uncertain days—realize the gift you’ve been given. Faith, not certainty, is the single most important ingredient to a life pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6).

Do you feel like you are in a fog today? Have you been there far too long? Does the present moment feel shaky while the future is unclear? Remember, He is God and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek HIM (usually without clarity about the details). Looking back, we see His faithfulness and goodness, even if we did not perceive it at the time. He has not changed. You can trust Him now, even though His way seems ambiguous.

My heart is often helped by the words of the Christian song that tells me that when I can’t trace His hand, I can trust His heart. I pray our hearts will likewise search less for clarity and more for the character of God in the unpredictable seasons of our journey.

This article originally appeared here.

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As a lead pastor for nearly three decades, Daniel Henderson helped several congregations experience transformation and renewal through an extraordinary commitment to prayer. Daniel now serves as founder and president of Strategic Renewal and is the national director for The 6.4 Fellowship. As a “pastor to pastors,“ he leads renewal experiences in local churches, speaks in a variety of leadership conferences, and coaches pastors across North America and beyond. Daniel is the author of over a dozen books, including, Old Paths, New Power: Awakening Your Church Through Prayer and the Ministry of The Word, Transforming Prayer: How Everything Changes When You Seek God’s Face, Transforming Presence: How The Holy Spirit Changes Everything - From The Inside Out, and Glorious Finish: Keeping Your Eye on the Prize of Eternity in a Time of Pastoral Failings.