Battling the Demons of Uncertainty

I despise disappointment. Disappointment hurts! It’s a terrible thing to fill yourself with joyful anticipation and see it dashed to the ground. It can be the minor bruise of a rained-out picnic or the shattering blow of losing a loved one in his prime; either way, you feel life has kicked you in the gut and is laughing at your pain.

The archenemy of disappointment, and a favorite idol for us pain-phobics, is certainty. For me, certainty is like a high-school crush object who alternately flirts and snubs–something fickle that refuses to truly be mine, yet for which I can’t stop hoping. Not content simply to pray for sunshine on picnic days, I’m the one who reads the last page of a novel first for assurance of a happy ending, who returns to the car twice to check that I locked the doors, and who asks “Are you sure?” until everyone else is tearing their hair.

I get tempted to hair-tearing myself when I remember that no human being ever has absolute, unadulterated, 100% certainty that “everything will turn out all right.” The best-laid plans do fail. Healthy eaters get cancer. The security-obsessed fall victim to crime. Storms overflow sea walls. And many who do escape disaster nonetheless suffer considerable damage from a constant assault of “what ifs?” It’s not solely our own imaginations, either, that concoct horrible scenarios and tell us we have to avoid them because getting through them would be impossible. As Joyce Meyer put it, “Fear … is a manifestation of the kingdom of darkness. I often say … that fear is the ‘master spirit’ … the spirit Satan uses to try to rule God’s people and keep them from coming under the leadership of the true Master. … Multitudes of people never fulfill the call of God on their lives simply because every time they try to go forward, the devil uses fear to stop them” (“Facing Fear and Finding Freedom“). “What if” is one of Satan’s favorite phrases; he wins a major battle if he can convince us that since absolute certainty is impossible, our best protection is to avoid all the risks we can.

Our actual best defense, of course, is to refuse to retreat from his scare tactics and to take up the famous “armor of God” from Ephesians 6: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and prayer. Notice that, however much we may wish it, “assurance of freedom from all earthly suffering” is not on that list! No war, not even one of six-day duration, has ever been won without Winston Churchill’s “blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” It’s worth noting, too, that those who most expect as much–the soldiers on the front lines–are often not the ones who become obsessed with worry to the point of panic. Rather, it’s the people back home who are constantly wringing their hands; still surrounded by relative ease and comfort, they have plenty of room for the fear that things will only get worse and they’re helpless to do anything about it.

Even on the home front, though, it’s possible to exercise full commitment to the cause and confidence of eventual victory–both of which can make a lot of suffering bearable. So can confidence that our leaders know what they’re doing. As Christian soldiers, we should display all three attributes, and we can add one that goes beyond those possible in any earthly war: the assurance that our Commander in Chief never recognizes a setback nor is taken by surprise. I could hardly say it better than does Karen Ehman at Proverbs 31 Ministries in “God Is Not Worried”: God is “not in heaven wringing His hands, wondering just how everything will eventually turn out. He is in control. … [He] doesn’t promise that we won’t ever encounter sudden disasters in life. But … with God as our security, we can face the future without fear.”

Uncertainty of the next battle is an unavoidable reality. But it needn’t paralyze us when we have certainty of the ultimate conclusion.

Leave a comment


  1. If there were no doubts or fears there would be no plot and our lives would be boring.

  2. True, but I wouldn’t want my own life to be boring, either. How would I learn anything or appreciate the good stuff if there were no problems?

  3. Melissa

     /  March 6, 2017

    WHAT? Are you talking to yourself Janet?

  4. janetanncollins

     /  March 6, 2017

    LOL! I hope your life is always ‘interesting.’ Melissa. 😉


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