Confronting the unknown can be a frightening experience. It challenges that comforting sense of control that we love. Being unprepared for whatever we think might be coming our way undermines the feeling of security and disrupts our capacity to plan for the future. With more unknowns confronting us than we’ve ever had to deal with, the palpable anxiety and pervasive fear blanketing our country, and the world, is understandable. When we don’t know what’s coming, much less how to prepare, the uncertainty can be overwhelming. And as challenging as the conditions are right now, we could easily wake up tomorrow to find that the list of unknowns has grown even more overnight.
A Growing List ~
For instance, we don’t know if or when the satanic megalomaniac running Russia might decide to expand his hellish invasion of Ukraine and plunge us into World War III. We don’t know how many more bodies of innocent men, women, and children will be added to those already massacred. We may never know how many were tortured to death beneath the rubble that used to be their homes and businesses. Then there are the unknowns facing millions of refugees fleeing the carnage in conditions they never imagined. Where will they find shelter and some place to rest and sleep, and enough clothing to keep from freezing to death. Where will they get enough food and water to survive, and how will they be able to care for their children? Are the loved ones they left behind still alive, and when, where, and how will they ever find each other again? For the Ukrainians and those who love them, the unknowns seem endless, and they’re filled with terrifying possibilities. Who will live, who will die, and when will it ever end?
But unknowns aren’t restricted just to Ukraine. There is no shortage of them here at home. In the face of runaway inflation and global financial instability, we wonder what further insanity the political and financial elites will subject us to. Unknowns lurk in the vast disconnect that lies between the folks who actually make this country work and those who are supposedly making decisions on their behalf. The destructive and oppressive policies inflicted on us are almost exclusively made by those who are obscenely wealthy and have no grasp of what life is like for the rest of us.
Zealous Incompetence ~
Religious zeal certainly exists these days, but unfortunately, most of it has nothing to do with God. Passionate devotion abounds, but it is mostly relegated to a quest for more political power and to promote an ideological agenda. The lawlessness running rampant at our southern border and plaguing our cities gets virtually no response at all. On the other hand, if someone suggests that climate change paranoia is idiotic or that a child in the womb is actually a human being, it can trigger a full blown panic attack. Life outside their protected social, political, and financial bubble is as foreign to them as having to shop for their own groceries. But contemplating the unknowns swirling around us doesn’t help calm the fears or counteract the anxiety, does it? So, what can we do instead? Thankfully, God steps in once again and offers a different perspective. His approach to unknowns can replace hand-wringing and panic with hope and praise.
It’s often said that we fear the unknown, but that’s not accurate, or really even possible. We can’t fear the unknown because it’s, well… “unknown.” When we perceive that an approaching event or situation might be negative, what we actually do is project the painful negative outcomes we dread into that empty, unknown, space. Then we react as though what we fear is likely to happen. But unknowns aren’t always hiding negative things, and they aren’t always bad. Life is full of unknowns, and always has been, and since God designed life that way, we can be assured that unknowns have benefits that we wouldn’t enjoy without them.
The Other Side of the Coin ~
For instance, it’s what we don’t know that makes so many things intriguing and exciting. It’s the lack of an answer to the who done it question that makes a mystery intriguing. If unknowns were eliminated, there would be no surprise parties, no reason to wrap Christmas presents, and no indescribable, but ecstatic uncertainty prior to that first kiss. It is the very existence of a universe full of unknowns and things beyond our control that draws us to God. And without the unknown factor, the concept of “trust” would not exist.
God uses things we don’t know to turn our attention toward those things that we do know. It’s when the ground beneath us feels unstable and we don’t know what to do, that we look for a place that we know will sustain us. When a storm descends on us and we don’t know how devastating its fury will be, we look for a shelter that we know won’t fall. When the unknowns are telling us that the demand is too great, the price is too high, and our resources are gone, that’s when we look for the One who has proven He can handle it all. When what we don’t know paralyzes us with fear, the God who loved us enough to take the worst that could possibly come calls us to Himself.
Nor What, but Who ~
Faith doesn’t confront the unknowns with what we know. It confronts them with Who we know. There will always be painful losses, grievous circumstances, and horrible injustices haunting the territories we cannot see. Things we hope never happen will sometimes happen anyway, but that’s not the whole story. Unknowns hold other possibilities. Blessings we couldn’t imagine are also out there. Unexpected grace and restoration are waiting to turn someone’s nightmare into a praise chorus to be sung forever. The light of love and compassion is about to invade someone’s lonely desperation and transform everything. Someone’s terminal prognosis is about to be proven premature as healing happens that no one can explain and medical science can’t claim. Some family’s meager means will somehow be enough, and someone’s wandering child will knock on the door and bring joy that words can’t express. Whatever the unknown might hold, this much we know. God is already there.
An Overcomer’s Promise ~
The prophets of doom, purveyors of war, and perpetrators of evil constantly spew forth a deluge of dreadful possibilities to fill our hearts with fear and sabotage any semblance of hope for our future. But we have a promise we can trust from the One who conquered death itself and from whom nothing is hidden:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth [nor Vladimir Putin’s war], nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35–39 NKJV)
And as we speak of unknowns, here’s a glorious one to consider in closing:
But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV)
There will always be panic mongers rising up to stoke our fears, but when they come around, we can just refer them to Jesus. He’ll be waiting to guide us through every unknown that comes our way.
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- “Contemplating the unknowns swirling around us doesn’t help calm the fears or counteract the anxiety. God steps in once again to offer a different perspective. His approach to unknowns replaces hand-wringing and panic with hope and praise.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “When the unknowns are telling us that the demand is too great, the price is too high, and our resources are gone, that’s when we look for the One who has proven He can handle it all.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “When what we don’t know paralyzes us with fear, the God who loved us enough to take the worst that could possibly come calls us to Himself.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Faith doesn’t confront the unknowns with what we know. It confronts them with Who we know. Whatever the unknown might hold, this much we know. God is already there.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “There will always be panic mongers rising up to stoke our fears, but when they come around, we can just refer them to Jesus. He’ll be waiting to guide us through every unknown that comes our way.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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