We live in an uncertain world. Though many folks are entrenched in their beliefs- political, religious, social- being entrenched is different than being certain. Even the most entrenched and convinced to whom I speak are often uncertain as to what will happen if the economy collapses, governments fall, their expectations fail or climate change wreaks havoc. Their uncertainty is not only about the future. The future always has a measure of the unknown. It is about the hope placed in predictions and predilections. Uncertainty is not as much about the future, as it is about confidence in the world and our hopes as we hold fast to them. That uncertainty is accompanied by trepidation, hesitancy and conflicted emotions.
Certainty that is truly certain settles at least the latter part. The certain might not be able to predict or completely grasp the future in detail. No one can. But, they can know what the wins and losses are and have confidence in being on the winning side. Those who have unquestionably deep faith in Jesus Christ possess a certain certainty. Enough evidence, assurance, fulfilled promise and God-dependability weigh into a confidence and certainty that renders doubt, helpless. The Scriptures detailing the Christian life of Jesus’ disciples after His resurrection from the dead, do so with unwavering certainty of God’s triumph in the past and reliability of things to come.
Thomas ceased his doubting. Peter was done with denying he knew Jesus. James was good to go wherever he was supposed to go, which led to his untimely death. Paul used words like “confidence”, “boasting” and “knowing” in ways that make the most wishful thinker envious. All the lesser known players (Timothy, Barnabas, Lydia, Phoebe, Mark, Titus, Aristarchus, Tychicus) seem about as certain in what they were doing and for whom they were doing it than is imaginable.
In the Old Testament, Job was a man assailed in unequaled ways. He lost health, family, wealth, friends, property and standing. His wife was bitter and encouraged him to withdraw from his confidence in God. However, his certainty in God and God’s ultimate solution were quite strong, even when his understanding waned and his friends tried to correct what they perceived to be his errant theology. He said at one point, “Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead or engraved in rock forever! I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:23-27).
Job used the first person, personal pronoun 10 times in just a handful of verses. He wanted to leave the reader no doubt that his faith was strong and personal. His confidence was not frail though his body was. His faith was strong even though his relationships were fragile. He was not thinking that somehow there might be some second-hand experience that someone else might have on his behalf proving that God would come through. It was more robust and personal than that. He did not hedge his bets. He not only knew about God; he new God. His certainty was certain. God is his redeemer and they would meet face to face. He took that to the bank and God cashed it later.
As surely as I write this, there is a reader saying or thinking, “That’s arrogant” or “It’s wishful thinking” or “The bishop is naively ignoring the uncertainty in the world” or something similar. It is understandable that people with haunting questions, frustrating experiences, fragile faith or nagging doubts might demur at this. It is the very core of the matter. People who are uncertain, are uncertain about certainty. For those who have seen, tasted, experienced and been lavished with God’s forgiveness and love, their very real relationship with the person of Jesus Christ through the presence of God’s Spirit is the raison d’etra for the certainty.
My prayer for the church is that she grows more certain in the Redeemer even as the times become more uncertain. My prayer is that this is not displayed or conveyed as arrogance or annoyance. It is instead a prayer for our faith to grow and our confidence to match that of Job though our suffering fall far short of his. If someone reading this is asking, “How can I get this degree of certain faith?” You have just given yourself the subject or your ongoing prayer until it is fully realized. God will certainly give you certainty. I am certain about it.