In this COVID-19 situation, people ask the same question? When.
- When will the virus be gone?
- When will our lives return to normal?
- Will I still have a job?
- Are restaurants and small businesses going to survive?
All are questions longing for certainty.
People like certainty. We want to know food is available. They turn to the weatherman on the TV, expecting an accurate answer of when the rain will stop or start.
We need, no we crave, certainty.
Questions that don’t have answers feel uncomfortable. When the news gets worse, we ask, “when it will get better.”
Welcome to a world of uncertainty.
I watch enough news to be concerned. Yet, the news media, the president, and infectious disease experts can’t answer the only thing we want to know…when.
If there is no answer, no certainty, what do we do?
We already live with uncertainty. In fact, most of life is uncertain.
We plan, but the plans may fizzle. We expect to live to a certain age, but then disease or accident steals it.
I remember when my father retired, my mother was starting with a Parkinson’ s-like syndrome. She could not walk well. She was wobbly on numb feet. She developed wounds that did not heal.
I remember him saying, “I never thought retirement would be like that.”
We are finding ourselves living with uncertainty. It’s like sleeping with bedbugs. Something is biting us, but we don’t know what it is. We fell bothered and bewildered. We seek answers like a desert-wanderer seeks a drop of water.
In this new uncertainty, we have options.
The first is what we do now. Demand certainty. But that’s a gravity problem. Gravity is. You can’t do anything about it, so you best accept it. When we keep asking the question “when” we find ourselves frustrated, irritated, and disappointed.
Or…you can accept your life of uncertainty.
The Bible tells us that uncertainty is man’s plight.
“You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.” (Psalm 90:5–6)
Or consider James, who sees the same wilting field.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13–15)
For Christians, we lived with uncertainty for 20 centuries. Jesus said he would return, but the morning sun rose today. “When,” people ask. Heaven only’s response is at the right time. Even the angels don’t know that.
But if you accept uncertainty, how do you scratch the itch of wanting to know?
First, live the moment you have. I am ashamed to think about how many hours and days I have wasted waiting for something else. You have the moment in which you draw your breath. What are you doing with the moment you have? If you cannot use what you have, what would you do with more?
Second, trust that it is not chaos. It looks like it. It feels like it. Yet, that’s the human perspective on life. The pilot executing a crosswind landing is moving furiously.
Nevertheless, he is in control as a passenger digs nails into his armrest, thinking, “we are going to crash.” Don’ worry. Someone has this.
That’s true about life on planet earth. If we are in control, we have made a mess of it. We’re not that smart or savvy. And computers are learning from their addled makers.
In Mark 4, the disciples found themselves caught in a gale on Galilee. It was the likes of which they feared. Seasoned salts in the boat knew men whose body lay on the lake’s bottom from a storm like this. Yet, Jesus slept. Soundly.
When roused, he got on the deck, faced the storm, and said, “peace be still.”
The disciples’ jaws dropped on cue. “Who is this that the winds and the waves obey him?”
The answer is so simple it is hard for mortals to miss and, at the same time, grasp. There is something at the helm of our world, even though it seems chaotic. He’s the captain guiding through the storms.
So, welcome to uncertainty. Live with it, but live it with God.