How to Deal With Uncertainty
If there has been one constant this year it is this: uncertainty. Crisis causes change. And change leaves us figuring out how to respond. If uncertainty is our constant companion, what do we do about that?
It’s never easy to feel out of control. We cherish finding a sense of stability. So, here are four actions we can take to continue moving forward even in the midst of uncertainty.
1. In Uncertainty, Remember God’s Long Arc
It’s perfectly fine to plan our days. But Christians must remember that it is God who “establishes our steps” (Prov 16:9). There is nothing more frustrating than ruined plans, and yet that is what God often designs for us.
The beauty of changed plans, forced adjustments, and recalibrated expectations lies in God’s long arc. God has a long game, a long plan, a long design. It may not feel comfortable today, but he has divinely good intentions with this plan. As Paul says in Romans 5: our “hope does not put us to shame” (Rom. 5:5). The hope we have is in a rock-solid future reality of God’s perfect Kingdom. One day we will see the culmination of every thread of his work being rolled out to display his great final glory. No matter how uncertain our moment is, our future is certain.
2. In Uncertainty, Pray Like You Depend on It
It’s remarkable how forgetful we are. We pray fervently in seasons of need, then neglect prayer when life is calm.
Uncertainty bumps our life and reveals:
- Sins that have been hiding in our heart
- Our unavoidable state of need
- Lack in spiritual fervency
Prayer is the antidote for these things: confessing sins that are revealed (1 John 1:8-9), asking God for provision (Matt. 7:7-11), and uniting our heart with God’s (Psalm 86:11).
Prayer is the way we tell God, “I am dependent on you.” It changes our heart to settle on him as our Rock instead of the shifting sands all around us. God won’t change; he will be our constant companion through the storm:
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)
3. In Uncertainty, Escape to the Spirit
Escapism is an easy technique to cope with the pinch of uncertainty. We feel uncomfortable and unsettled, therefore we rush to entertainment, food, sleep, social media, or worse. But Paul draws a very clear alternative for us: “[D]o not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
Instead of taking an escape route away from God, let’s run to the Spirit’s side and get filled with him. How do we get “filled with the Spirit”? Paul says that we can do this as we exchange words of truth and praise about God: “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always” (Eph. 5:19-20). We can:
- Sing worship songs (by ourselves or with others)
- Text somebody a verse of encouragement
- Memorize a psalm
- Thank God in conversations and in prayers
As we do this, our shared worship fills us with the Spirit’s presence—instead of filling us with weak and worthless substitutes.
4. In Uncertainty, Refuel with Joy
Uncertainty is a form of suffering. It makes life hard, even exhausting. So what is our fuel to keep going? Joy.
If we are going to keep running the marathon of uncertainty, we need to keep nourished in joy. God gives us plenty to rejoice in even when much is uncertain. In trial, we can “count it joy” because tested faith becomes “perfect” faith (James 1:2-4). And we can have a joy that’s rooted in our past, our present, and our future with God:
- We’ve been justified in the past by Jesus (Rom. 5:1)
- We stand in peace with God today (Rom 5:1-2)
- Our future hope is secure, pointed to by the Spirit within us (Rom. 5:5)
God’s at work. That’s why our joy doesn’t have to run out.
Constant Change, Constant Character
There is much that we are not certain about. But the one thing we can bank on is the character of a God whose “steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136). Standing on him is the one place where there is solid ground.