May 12, 2020 • Life for Leaders
For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
This is the fourth devotion in the Life for Leaders series I’m calling “Walking with God in Uncertain Times.” You can read the first installments in this series by clicking here.
In yesterday’s devotion I suggested that there really aren’t “certain times,” even if sometimes it seems that way. Our sometimes-smooth lives are interrupted by unanticipated personal challenges as well as the racing pace of change in our world. Whether we like it or not, we live in what Thomas Friedman calls a “zone of uncertainty.”
I know a few people who seem to thrive on uncertainty. They experience an uncertain life as an exciting adventure. Most of us are not wired that way, however. I know I’m not; that’s for sure. Not long ago, a team of researchers studied the stress responses of people to a variety of stimuli. They found that we tend to feel more stress when faced with uncertainty than when confronting a modestly negative but certain experience. In other words, uncertainty about an outcome was more stressful than certainty about an unpleasant outcome. (See “Computations of uncertainty mediate acute stress responses in humans” in Nature.) Similarly, Prof. Bryan Robertson, in “The Psychology of Uncertainty,” observes, “When certainty is questioned, your stress response goes haywire, instantly arousing your stress response, kicking you in the pants in an attempt to spur you to action and get you to safety. Waiting for certainty can feel like torture by a million tiny cuts.” Sound familiar? Are you feeling those million tiny cuts these days?
If we look to the world around us for certainty, we’re bound to be disappointed. Even genuine experts can’t supply the certainty we crave when it comes to COVID-19. There are so many conflicting sage opinions these days about what will happen to us when it comes to public health, the economy, educational institutions, churches, and so much more. The fact is we just don’t know most of what we’d like to know. And, upon reflection, we recognize that the uncertainty of our lives extends far beyond “these uncertain times.”
Christian faith doesn’t provide all the certainty we might prefer. We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen today, or tomorrow, or the next day. Our faith doesn’t insulate us from all the change swirling around us. But Christian faith does provide a solid, trustworthy, unchanging reality upon which to base our lives. As God said through the prophet Malachi, “For I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Similarly, in Hebrews 13:8 we read, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” These statements aren’t philosophical speculations about the nature of God. Rather, they are stirring affirmations of God’s abiding love for us, his persistent grace, his transcendent reliability, his trustworthy faithfulness. Though we might sometimes feel uncertain about God, God is not uncertain about us. He is there for us in the midst of all the uncertainties of our lives.
I’ll continue this line of thought in tomorrow’s Life for Leaders devotion, thinking more with you about how we experience God in our uncertain times. At this point, however, I’d invite you to consider the following and then to join me in our closing prayer.
Something to Think About:
How do you respond to uncertainty? How do you feel when things in your life are uncertain? What do you tend to do in those times?
How do you respond to the affirmation in Scripture that God does not change? Do you find this puzzling? encouraging? unsettling? reassuring? or . . . ?
In what ways have you experienced God’s faithfulness in your life?
Something to Do:
Talk with your small group or with a good friend about your experiences of God’s faithfulness. Pray for each other, that you might know God’s unchanging love more deeply.
Gracious God, we confess that we would like to have more certainty in our lives. Uncertainty is distressing, especially when it has to do with things like our health, our jobs, and the wellbeing of those we love. We’d love to know things that we can’t know. It’s hard sometimes to live by faith, not by sight.
Yet, when we acknowledge the uncertainty of our lives, we sense a greater yearning for you. You, Lord, do not change. Your love and grace are always there for us. We can count on you in all things and all times. Thank you, God, for your faithfulness. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Both Sin and Hope Remain Present in Work (Malachi 1:1-4:6)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.