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  • Writer's pictureRichard Parrish

The Gift of Uncertainty

You can pretty much guarantee that each morning two things happen with me. My eyes open and I make coffee (not necessarily in that order).

But can I guarantee this will happen?

We take everyday experiences for granted. We expect we will go to work or school. We anticipate we will pick the kids up from school. We know we will have dinner tonight, or attend a church function on Sunday.

But can we guarantee that this will happen?

We have no assurance of life. Our plans and expectations are beyond our ability to control. The one thing we have a certainty of is UNCERTAINTY.

I love to read of women and men who courageously take action to implement their dreams.

It’s inspiring to listen to the stories of people like Steve Jobs, whose vision of a “computer for the rest of us” ignited the PC revolution and made Apple an icon of American business.

J.K. Rowling was jobless and suffering from a painful divorce. Relying on welfare benefits to sustain her, she continued to write. Her perseverance paid high dividends, making her the world’s first billionaire writer.

There are many stories of ordinary people who—despite adversity—have pursued their desires. But they share one thing in common. Each of them faced uncertainty. Things rarely (if ever) went the way they planned. Course corrections were necessary. What they anticipated would happen, often did not occur the way they believed it would.

Not every dream comes to fruition. “Success stories” tend to overshadow—by far—those whose hopes disappear. We quickly recall the names of those who “made it” but are hard-pressed to remember the names of those who didn’t. But like those who succeed, those who fail, share the commonality of uncertainty. We can’t escape it.

Although uncertainty is a reality of life, it does not have to be a curse. It’s a blessing. Consider this. Each encounter with uncertainty is an invitation for us to discover and trust.

When I’m uncertain of the future, disturbed by unrest, or anxious about the unknown—it is a sure indication that I am on the brink of discovery. What is it that I’m to learn? What is it that God desires me to discover? Often, I recognize that my anxiousness is God ringing my doorbell to get my attention.

While I’m all in favor of being optimistic and confident, I’m also prone to become self-reliant. As good as I think I am, I’m not God! All that I am, have, and hope to become must never detract from God.

James offers us instruction on how to keep our self-reliance in proper check:

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.⁠1

Uncertainty not only helps us discover an appropriate humble attitude, but it also encourages our faith. The greatest success stories in the Bible are examples of faith, not aptitude. Hebrews, chapter 11, presents a “Hall of Fame” of ordinary individuals who accomplished extraordinary feats—by faith, not competence. These heroes of faith understood: Without some degree of uncertainty, even their most significant victories would seem dull.

Although life is uncertain, here’s one certainty we can count on: God always faithfully leads us when life is unpredictable. The question is: Whom will we choose to trust?


1 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989), Jas 4:13–16.

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