UNCERTAINTY. UNPREDICTABILITY. CHANGE. INCONSISTENCY. INSECURITY.
None of these words above come with good feelings. I think all of us desire a clear path forward. We want to be sure of where we’re going and want to get our “ducks in a row” as we make plans and structure our life. In fact, we often delay decisions as we wait for “clarity” – a better understanding of that decision in the future. And yet, there are seasons where we just feel totally out of control. New experiences are especially good at making us feel this way. Going away to school, getting married, moving, having your first child, starting a new career – all of these experiences bring about an enormous feeling of uncertainty, and it can be scary, even if it’s also exciting.
I’m a planner by nature. It’s therapeutic for me to look weeks and months into the future and start to create structure. It makes me feel like I’m getting ahead, and if I’m honest, it makes me feel like I’m in control of that time before it gets here. When I’m facing a super busy season, calendars and project timelines are like a stress ball to me. They ease the pressure, because they make me feel as if I’ve mastered the uncertainty. I can trust the plan. So it feels worst of all to me when a plan is in place, and then utterly falls apart. It feels the worst, not only because I feel uncertain about that future plan now, but because I already had that one figured out and could confidently reference it and point to where we were going. Now, it’s back to the drawing board and there’s even less time to figure it out.
None of these statements should make you assume that I am against planning or think that we should stop shaping future plans in order to organize the chaos. We do need to plan and prepare. But that feeling of uncertainty, of insecurity now that you realize you can’t predict the future, that’s a reminder that you were trusting in yourself and depending on yourself for security.
This is why the Bible instructs us not to even make definitive statements regarding our plans without acknowledging God’s sovereignty over them.
James 4:13-15 says “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
In this passage, we’re not being told not to make plans, but to acknowledge who is really in charge of how they play out. Our plans, our future, our everything is under the will of God, and so it’s in Him that we need to intentionally and actively place our trust and find our security.
TRUST. RELIANCE. DEPENDANCE. FAITH.
These words, though they don’t offer certainty in plans we make either, bring about absolute certainty in the only constant that there is, the unchanging God. And trust in Him brings peace and joy.
Take a look at Romans 15:13:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The crazy thing is that we actually forget how dependant we are on God sometimes and actually convince ourselves that we can control anything. Whether choose to rely on him or not, we’re already fully dependent on God every second of the day. He holds together and provides balance to this complex environment that we live in. He sustains our bodies and allows everything to keep on working. He controls the circumstances around us that make up our “normal day.”
Isaiah 42:5 – “This is what God the LORD says– the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it.”
One natural disaster, one illness, or one issue in our society and normal goes out the window. God controls those circumstances.
But, within that context of dependance on God, we do have a choice to make in how dependent we posture ourselves. Are we going to trust ourselves, or trust God? Will He be the source of our strength, or will we try to be that strength for ourselves?
Psalm 28:7 – The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
Trusting in God is the only way to feel secure. It’s the only way to wade through completely uncertain circumstances and still find peace and joy. This is why Romans 15:13 is so encouraging. Read it again here: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Let’s break down this verse a bit…
1. “May the God of hope…” : This is a defining statement about God. He is not the God who offers hope, but the God of hope. He is hope to us. He offers hope for our present and our future. And that brings peace and an ability to rest in Him.
Psalm 62:5 – Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
2. “”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him…” : This is an action; a choice; a posture. Paul is saying, “may God do this for you AS YOU do that.” Trust in God brings about joy and peace in you. Reliance on yourself brings insecurity and worry.
3. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” : There are actually two parts to point out here. 1, overflow. God doesn’t just want to give you barely enough hope that you can hang in there and survive. He wants to OVERFLOW you with hope; enough for you and for those around you to be impacted and affected by. 2, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, trusting in God is an action that we can take and a choice we must make, but this being filled with joy is something that God will do. It’s His work through the Holy Spirit.
I’ve lived out the consequences of depending on me instead of God. Of disappointment after expecting myself to be more, to do more, to handle more. I’ve felt the overload of self-reliance. God wants us to know the peace, joy, and hope that only He brings as we trust in Him.
Trust Him, and I pray that you’ll be filled with hope.
Part II of this thought process is in another post (linked below), but if you find yourself in a place where you say, “I feel like I am relying on Him and I am trusting Him, but I still feel like I’m without peace or direction” consider what it means to wait on the Lord.