You Can Cope With Uncertainty
“CERTAINLY!” “Sure thing!” “Guaranteed!” You have no doubt heard such expressions many times. In our daily life, however, there is not much that we can be sure of. Life is so unpredictable that we often wonder if there is anything that we can be absolutely certain about. Doubt and uncertainty seem to be a part of life.
Understandably, most people desire security and happiness for themselves and their family. They work very hard to acquire the things they believe will make them happy and secure—usually money and material possessions. However, an earthquake, a hurricane, an accident, or a violent crime can wipe out such possessions instantly. Serious illness, divorce, or unemployment can change lives overnight. True, such things may not actually happen to you. Yet, just knowing that something terrible can happen at any time is a disturbing and distressing feeling. But that is not all.
Uncertainty is synonymous with doubt, and one dictionary defines “doubt” as “uncertainty of belief or opinion that often interferes with decision-making.” Furthermore, according to the book Managing Your Mind, “uncertainty about something important is a major cause of anxiety and worry.” Doubt unresolved can lead to anxiety, frustration, and anger. Yes, worrying about what might or might not happen can harm our mental and physical health.
As a result, some people go to the other extreme. They are like the Brazilian youth who said: “Why be concerned about what is going to happen? Today is today, and tomorrow is tomorrow.” Such a fatalistic “let us eat and drink” attitude can lead only to disappointment, distress, and ultimately death. (1 Corinthians 15:32) It is far better for us to turn to the Creator, Jehovah God, with whom, says the Bible, “there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow.” (James 1:17) If we examine God’s Word, the Bible, we will find sound counsel and guidance on how to cope with the uncertainties of life. It can also help us to understand why there is so much uncertainty.
Reason for Uncertainty
The Scriptures provide a realistic view of life and help us to cultivate the proper attitude toward uncertainty and change. Though family connections, social position, intelligence, good health, and so forth may provide a degree of security, the Bible shows that we cannot take such things for granted or expect to lead a “charmed” life. Said wise King Solomon: “The swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor do the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor.” Why not? “Because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all.” Hence, Solomon warned: “Just like fishes that are being taken in an evil net, and like birds that are being taken in a trap, so the sons of men themselves are being ensnared at a calamitous time, when it falls upon them suddenly.”—Ecclesiastes 9:11, 12.
Jesus Christ also spoke of a time of extreme anxiety and uncertainty that would come upon a whole generation of people. In vivid language, he said: “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Yet, Jesus pointed to something positive for honesthearted people today: “When you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:25, 26, 31) Similarly, rather than being in fear of an uncertain future, we have faith in God that helps us to see beyond the uncertainty to a wonderful, secure future.
‘Having Full Assurance of the Hope’
Although we cannot be certain about everything we hear, read, or see, we have good reason to trust in the Creator. He is not only the Supreme One but also a loving Father who cares for his earthly children. About his own word, God said: “It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”—Isaiah 55:11.
Jesus Christ taught the truth from God, and many who listened to him accepted it with conviction and certainty. For example, a group of honesthearted Samaritans told the woman who had first listened to Jesus: “We do not believe any longer on account of your talk; for we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man is for a certainty the savior of the world.” (John 4:42) Likewise today, despite living in times of insecurity, we do not have to be uncertain about what to believe.
When it comes to religious belief, many are of the opinion that rather than trying to understand, we should simply believe. The Bible writer Luke, however, did not share that opinion. He did research and provided accurate information so that others might “know fully the certainty of the things” that he had written. (Luke 1:4) Since family and friends who do not share our faith may fear that we will end up disillusioned and disappointed, it is important that we are able to defend our faith. (1 Peter 3:15) Only by knowing accurately the reason for what we believe can we help others to trust in God. The Bible describes Jehovah in these words: “The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.”—Deuteronomy 32:4.
Take that last statement: “Righteous and upright is he.” What evidence do we have to be certain of this? The apostle Peter was fully convinced of that fact. He told a Roman officer and his household: “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35) Peter said these words because he had just seen how God’s own hand directed matters so that a family of Gentiles, formerly considered unclean and unacceptable, became acceptable to Him. Like Peter, we also can be convinced of God’s impartiality and righteousness when we see with our own eyes “a great crowd” of people—six million strong—from over 230 lands around the earth who have abandoned their former way of life and walk in the path of righteousness.—Revelation 7:9; Isaiah 2:2-4.
As true Christians, we want to be, not fanatic or dogmatic, but humble and reasonable. Yet, we are not uncertain about what we believe and what we expect of the future. To first-century Christians, the apostle Paul wrote: “We desire each one of you to show the same industriousness so as to have the full assurance of the hope down to the end.” (Hebrews 6:11) Likewise, the good news from the Bible has brought us “the full assurance of the hope.” That hope, based solidly on God’s Word, “does not lead to disappointment,” as Paul also explained.—Romans 5:5.
Moreover, we are fully convinced that teaching others the good news from the Bible can bring them security and certainty spiritually, and even emotionally and physically. We can join Paul in saying: “The good news we preach did not turn up among you with speech alone but also with power and with holy spirit and strong conviction.”—1 Thessalonians 1:5.
Present Blessings in Spiritual Security
Although we cannot expect complete security in life today, there are things we can do that will help us lead a relatively stable and secure life. For example, regular association with the Christian congregation at the meetings contributes to stability because there we are taught right and sound principles and values. Paul wrote: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment.” (1 Timothy 6:17) By learning to put their trust in Jehovah and not in fleeting material things or pleasures, many have been able to rid themselves of the anxieties and frustrations they formerly had to bear.—Matthew 6:19-21.
In the congregation, we also enjoy a warm brotherhood, which provides assistance and support in numerous ways. At one point in his ministry, the apostle Paul and his traveling companions felt “extreme pressure” and were “uncertain even of [their] lives.” Where did Paul find support and relief? Of course, his trust in God never wavered. Nonetheless, he was encouraged and consoled by fellow Christians who came to his aid. (2 Corinthians 1:8, 9; 7:5-7) Today when natural disasters or other calamities strike, time and again our Christian brothers are the first on the scene to render needed assistance materially and spiritually to fellow Christians as well as to others in need.
Another avenue of help to deal with life’s uncertainties is prayer. We can always turn to our loving heavenly Father when we are under unexpected pressure. “Jehovah will become a secure height for anyone crushed, a secure height in times of distress.” (Psalm 9:9) Human parents may fail in protecting their children. However, God is willing to help us to cope with our fears and feelings of uncertainty. Throwing our anxieties upon Jehovah in prayer, we can be sure that he can “do more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive.”—Ephesians 3:20.
Do you regularly turn to God in prayer? Are you convinced that your prayers are heard by God? “My mother told me that I should pray to God,” said a young girl in São Paulo. “But I asked myself: ‘Why speak to someone I do not even know?’ However, Proverbs 18:10 helped me to understand that we need God’s help and we have to speak to him in prayer.” That scripture says: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” Really, how can we develop trust and confidence in Jehovah if we do not make it a habit to speak to him? To enjoy the blessings of spiritual security, we need to make daily heartfelt prayer a habit. Jesus said: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:36.
Something else that we can be certain about is our hope in God’s Kingdom. Notice the words at Daniel 2:44: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” That hope is solid and is something we can be certain about. Human promises often fail, but we can always trust in Jehovah’s word. Rather than being undependable, God is like a rock mass that we can rely on. We can feel like David, who said: “My God is my rock. I shall take refuge in him, my shield and my horn of salvation, my secure height, and my place for flight, my Savior; from violence you save me.”—2 Samuel 22:3.
The aforementioned book Managing Your Mind further observes: “The more one thinks about the bad things that might happen, the more likely they seem, and the harder it is to see how to cope with them.” So then, why allow ourselves to be burdened by the anxieties and doubts of the world? Instead, replace the uncertainties of this world with the certainties that God provides. By holding fast our faith in Jehovah’s unfailing promises, we have this assurance: “None that rests his faith on him will be disappointed.”—Romans 10:11.
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God’s Word guarantees future blessings for mankind
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“None that rests his faith on him will be disappointed”
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The Kingdom good news brings people security