3 Proven Reasons We Should Welcome Uncertainty
In my five decades of life, uncertainty has been a powerful part of my journey. Periods of uncertainty have been the most amazing times of shaping me into the person I am today. Uncertainty can lead to doubt and is tough to endure. Seasons of uncertainty are crucible experience where refinement and growth in resilience can take place. Extraordinary breakthroughs happen during seasons of uncertainty. We are often propelled in directions we never thought possible. I write the below from my Christian faith perspective.
I believe that everyone should welcome uncertainty for three reasons:
- Uncertainty develops faith
- Uncertainty develops dependence
- Uncertainty develops patience
St. John of the Cross writes on times he calls a “Dark night of the soul.” These times are ones of excruciating uncertainty. They are often periods of severe doubt. I can think of many examples of dark nights of the soul:
- When a marriage breaks
- The death of a spouse, child or parent
- Ongoing, severe pain
- Life-threatening illness
- Mobilized to deploy into combat
- An untimely end to a career
- Living with a rebellious child
Not too many years ago, I lived through a personal dark night of the soul. An organization let me go before I was ready to transition. A few months earlier my father had died. Thanksgiving was our first holiday together after his death. Depression had taken hold of my mother. The day after Thanksgiving, I wrestled with my uncertain future. My uncertainties lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. I questioned God over the death of my father and over being let go from my job in an unjust way. Depression set in and it became difficult for me to trust my ability to make decisions good for me and for my family. My dark night of the soul lasted for nine months.
Hindsight is twenty-twenty. I would do many things different, especially in the early part of this difficult time. I learned three specific things I’ll share with you.
Uncertainty develops faith
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
When we are in the midst of uncertain times, we are not sure how things will turn out. We don’t know:
- when we will find employment.
- how we will make it through grief over the loss of a loved one.
- when or if the prodigal child or spouse will return.
- how our health crisis will turn out.
In my work, I sit with many people facing life challenges. They come and talk with me uncertain of how to frame the challenge in the larger context of their life. Many times, I don’t have answers to why they’re facing a challenge. Uncertainty requires us to trust without evidence. Patient endurance of uncertainty develops our faith in the biblical promise that God works things… Click To Tweet
Uncertainty develops dependence
I prefer control over my circumstances. Uncertain times and control do not go together. They are at opposite ends of the spectrum. There is no correlation between the two. Many times our uncertain times are times of waiting on other people to decide. When we are dealing with health concerns, we have to wait for the doctor.
No one knows how long uncertain times will last. I wrote this on Valentines Day while sitting aboard the USS Oak Hill as we conducted routine operations in the Middle East. I received an email from my wife reminding me of an event that happened on Valentines Day, six years ago. Just a few months earlier, my journey as a chaplain had begun at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. I was sitting in a Bible study led by chapel volunteers. At 8:05 PM, I had a seizure. My only recollection of this health crisis was waking up in the hospital.
Over the course of the next several months of uncertainty, I depended on Navy medicine to evaluate whether I was fit to stay on active duty. The journey of uprooting my family from everything familiar may have been for naught because of my uncertain health. Day after day I wondered if my journey into the Navy Chaplaincy had prematurely ended I was not in control. Hard as it was, I depended on the goodness of God and trusted him with my future direction. He had led me back to active duty as a chaplain and. I chose to trust him to take care of me and my family.
Uncertainty develops patience
Let’s suppose that a married woman comes for counsel. In the privacy of our counseling relationship, she confides in me she has been unfaithful to her husband. She feels conviction for her behavior and now wishes to confess to her husband. In the coming days, she confesses, asks for forgiveness, and expresses her wish to renew their marriage and stay with her husband. Knowledge of the affair wounds her husband. He had no idea that the affair was happening and is unsure how to react.
In the coming weeks, both husband and wife seek counsel from me. The wife has received no assurance from her husband has forgiven her and this troubles her. The husband tells me he loves his wife, yet he does not know if he can trust her again.
Both husband and wife are deep in the morass of uncertainty. She is waiting for forgiveness, he is wondering how he will ever trust again. Neither husband nor wife can tell the other when forgiveness or trust will be offered. Patience is required from both. Forgiveness offered too quick is likely to fade. Once there is a broken trust, the journey toward regaining it cannot be rushed. The couple must trust each other before reconciliation can happen.
What this couple may not realize is that their patient endurance of uncertainty can lead them to a new place of resilience as a married couple. This couple is in the crucible of an uncertain future. As the wife undergoes the forging of repentance and restoration, the husband is going through his own forging as he journeys toward trust. When both reach the other side of their journey, theirs will be a reconciled relationship. First, they must exercise a patient endurance.
I have addressed the difficult journey of uncertainty. In my journey, I have seen uncertainty develop faith, dependence and patience. Uncertainty in life is a crucible. Gold is refined by placing in a crucible and heated to 1,943 degrees Fahrenheit. It must reach this temperature in order for the dross to rise to the top so it might be scraped away. If the crucible breaks before the gold reaches the required temperature, the dross will not surface and the gold will not be pure. If the crucible holds, the gold is heated to the correct temperature and the dross will rise to the surface and scraped off.
The crucible of uncertainty is a refining unlike any other. The Christian scriptures says we should patiently endure:
…trials of various kinds, for… the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).
Times of uncertainty are the crucibles necessary for allowing the dross in our lives to rise to the surface so it can be removed. Refinement will happen and we will grow in our resilience.
What is the uncertainty you are facing today? Will you commit to enduring the trial so you might be formed in ways you never considered?
I am a Christ-follower, husband to Vicki and father to Liahna & David. I serve in the Navy as an active duty Chaplain. In my work, I offer spiritual care and religious support to military members. I am a writer, an avid reader, enjoy staying fit and living an active lifestyle. Follow me on Twitter: @chapswoodard. I post once each week here at http://www.gregorywoodard.com.