Whoever first coined the phrase, "The only thing for certain in life is uncertainty" must have had 2020 in mind. It can be hard to think back to the way things were when we waved goodbye to 2019. For many of us, our lives could have been defined by certainty.
There was a certain flow and rhythm that we might have called mundane, but that many of us crave now. We knew what our weeks would generally look like. We had our schedules for when to get up, when to exercise, when we needed to shower, when we needed to be out the door, when the kids needed to be at the bus stop, when we needed to start dinner, etc., etc. etc....
Then along came 2020 and where and when you did everything was flopped onto it's ear. What is open, and when is it open, and how many people can go, and what should I wear, and to mask or not to mask that is the question. For many, a satellite ceased to be an object that encircled the planet and became the term that meant perpetual work from home. For others, work dried up and disappeared all together. School became this disjointed thing that happened, sometimes, on the internet and kids and teachers all had to start learning everything all over again.
And just when we began to acclimate to the craziness that all of these life-altering changes of 2020 brought, we would start to hear how things were changing again. Stage 1, then 1.2, and 2 and 2.015, and 2.75. And each stage would bring us closer to the fabled return to normal, that within itself has a whole array of uncertainties that come along with it.
I was reminded of all of this, or at least presented with the opportunity to step back and look at it as a whole yesterday. Our local school system has been touting their plan for students to return to in-person classes for about a month. Then yesterday, at the 11th hour, the decision was rescinded. Literally hours from parents putting their children back in class, many of them were scrambling to figure out, " What do I do TOMORROW???"
It is so easy to get frustrated and flustered. At some point this year we have all just wanted to toss our hands in the air and give up. To beg for something, one thing, anything, to go "normal'. How is it then that we as Christians cope with all this uncertainty?
As he so often did with most circumstances, the Apostle Paul gives us an excellent example of how to handle a world set on its ear. Paul had his plans on where he was going to go, and then God changed them. He started churches and wanted to return to see them grow, and he was tossed in prison. He was shipwrecked, beaten, and mistreated. He was thrown in a jail when an earthquake tore the place open where he could escape, God said stay.
He was even faced with the very question of whether it would be better to just die and go to be with Jesus or to stay and face more of this life's uncertainty. And in Philippians he shares this with us:
" 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again." Philippians 1: 23-26
Paul understood that in all of the trials, in all of the uncertainty that surrounded his life, there was one hard and fast certainty. He never faced any of it alone. There was a purpose for everything that he went through. And that if he turned his every circumstance over to God, no matter how bad it looked at the outset, God would make something beautiful out of it.
I think that's a first century lesson that we can probably all apply to our 2020. None of what has happened and taken us by surprise was unexpected by God. He has placed each of us exactly where we are for such a time as this. Like Paul, there will be someone in our path who needs to see us face the uncertainty of today and tomorrow with a heavenly perspective. They need to see us willing and ready to face the challenges in a way that they don't see from the world, a way that we can only be equipped to show when we rely on God and seek His will for our lives.
No, it's not easy. But just as Paul could face the uncertainty that lay ahead of him, God will strengthen you and give you the ability to face what lies in front of you!
If you would like to learn more about how God strengthens and carries us through these times of uncertainty, please join us for our current series studying the book of Philippians: To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain either in person or by tuning in to our live Sunday morning broadcast.