We are familiar with the saying: You can’t be sure of anything except change.
The seasons change from Spring to Summer to Autumn to Winter – and next year even they will be different to this year’s seasons. Life is constantly changing and we can’t stop the process. We change from being a baby, to a toddler, to a teenager and eventually to old age and death. We accept these stages, even if only philosophically.
Maybe the term: Living with uncertainty, elicits a bit more emotion, especially in areas where we may feel vulnerable.
When we are on the brink of a new adventure, a new relationship, commencing a new career, setting off into the sunset, although we realize things are going to change, we look forward eagerly to what we believe is going to be exciting and good for us. We could say we are living with uncertainty but with joy and anticipation of good things to come.
However, if we are entering old age without loved ones or insufficient funds to see us through the days and years ahead; if we have had to flee from our homes because of some untenable situation; or from the country of our birth because our lives are threatened or that of our families; if we have just lost our jobs, or our homes, or a loved-one and the future looks awful, living with uncertainty could be with fear, dread, pain, hopelessness and despair.
We know that change and the unknown is part and parcel of life, yet when we are feeling vulnerable how can we learn to live positively and with hope.
Maybe we are people of habit and like with our preferences for this or that, we only feel comfortable with change and uncertainty when we initiate it or can see the need to live for a while with uncertainty. Maybe when change is forced upon us, when we don’t have a choice, when the change is too different, or it catches us unaware, we find it threatening, uncomfortable and stressful.
Does the discomfort tell us something about our expectations of life, of ourselves and of others and what we believe is the rightness of things, even the fairness of God? Does it tell us something about our intolerance of other ways, faiths, cultures, habits?
Paul in the New Testament says he has learnt to be content with much or with little. His contentment is not affected by what life throws at him as his hope and faith is not in the happenings in his life but in the assurance that God is always with him, working all things out for the good of all involved.
We can be comforted and assured when we choose to believe that God is in charge and is the same yesterday, today and forever towards each one of us. His consistency can afford us a sense of peace and hope in what can often be the turmoil of our lives.
Whilst God does not change, we do need to change. We need to grow and become wiser, kinder and more aware and responsive to God and his call upon our lives in making our earth a place, like unto heaven, to be a part of.
We don’t know what the future holds, but if we choose to believe that each day, come what may, is a gift of life and an opportunity given to us by God whose desires that we become all we are created and equipped to become, then the blocks allowed in our way will be the building blocks we need to ultimately bring us to full maturity and peace with ourselves, our neighbours and with God.
Henri Nouwen in his book Bread for the Journey puts it like this:
Hope is the trust that God will fulfil His promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment, with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands. All the great spiritual leaders in history were people of hope. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Mary, Jesus, Rumi, Gandhi and Dorothy Day, all lived with a promise in their hearts that guided them towards a future without the need to know exactly what it would look like. Let’s live with hope.