Right now is a whole list of uncertainties all around the world. Here in the United States, it has been COVID-19 shutdowns, protests with violence, what will learning look like for students, will I get lose my job or find one to replace what I lost, and now what will happen with the election of the president. Dealing with uncertainty has many layers to it that I want to open up and identify with regards to how we as Christians can healthily and unhealthily approach it.
This conversation of living with uncertainty is not new just because of COVID, but true uncertainty can feel difficult and the pandemic has highlighted how ineffective we are at losing this power and control. We won’t get into many parts of what uncertainty in this article, including the theology of uncertainty, trusting God while doing coping skills, and how to stop the focus on uncertainty in the first place as well as being able to comfortably sit in it when it happens. So how do people deal with uncertainty in an unhealthy manner?
Unhealthy Managing of Uncertainty
For many, uncertainty is something to be completely avoided. In uncertainty, we blame others for the reason we are in this situation (this political party put us here), ignore or minimize the problem (this pandemic isn’t as bad as the flu), and justify our actions while letting go of responsibility (I had to do this, I didn’t have a choice). We find ourselves overeating, undersleeping, drinking too much alcohol, watching mind-numbing television, getting into social media arguments, and buying things on Amazon. Others will attempt to fully control it by trying to find some kind of answers or others who believe what you do on the Internet, think of every what-if scenario that could possibly come up, and prepare for the possible worst possible outcome even though you assume way too much.
I will go so far as to say that uncertainty is a good thing as it can keep us humble, focusing on the omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence of God.
We find people that do any of these have developed adjustment disorders that are based in anxiety, depression, or (small t) trauma. Therefore, us trying to deal with these problems in unhealthy ways leads to more negative outcomes.
Healthy Ways of Managing Uncertainty
These will be very short focuses on what you can do to manage uncertainty for Christians, both therapeutically and spiritually. I want to note there are more detailed places to find each of these if you are interested. Let me know in the comments and I’ll get you those resources.
Focus On What You Can Control
One of the biggest uncertainties with the pandemic is “will this end” which has led people to be upset about others wearing masks properly or not social distancing, the need for a vaccine, and accuracy of statistics or how people interpret them, and how the virus evolves. But what is under your control is to social distance yourself and family, have proper hygiene, find healthy social ways to interact with people who are not practicing healthy responses, limit news consumption, and practice daily, intentional kindness and compassion to people through acts of services and prayer.
Be Okay With Uncertainty
If you knew every single thing in your life, what does that say about you? Better yet, what does that say about your reliance on God? Just as we do not know the plans God has for us, we need to be okay with the uncertainty we live in. In fact, I will go so far as to say that uncertainty is a good thing as it can keep us humble, focusing on the omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence of God. This will allow us to let go of our pride and self-idols as we learn to worship God more and more each day.
Pray The “I Don’t Knows”
As a professional, I find over and over again that clients ask me questions that are so specific, future-oriented, or complex, that I do not know the answer. It’s hard being a subject matter expert and having a client expect great things to give them the answer of “I don’t know.” But with uncertainty, we need to learn to be comfortable with “I don’t know.”
Certainty we can and should plan for the future, but we do not know what is going to happen. We need to develop relationships that grow our support and community, but we don’t know if they will stay. We much continue to develop healthy practices but do not know if they will prevent disease or other medical problems.
And in this “I don’t know,” we go to God in prayer. We ask not only for Him to help us, but that His will be done. Not that we may be happy and comfortable, though that is pleasant to think about, but what will glorify God through eternity and in Heaven. We must not have our eyes focused on the need for certainty for today, but the certainty in the ever-and-ever with God when we go to heaven.
And in this uncertainty, we can be certain of one thing: God is in control as we are to serve Him now and forever. Amen.