As a parade of commercials opens with, “During these uncertain times …” eyebrows across the country must raise in a level of incredulity as millions silently whisper, “Welcome to my world!”
When times were “certain:”
- Huge swaths of the country hemorrhaged financially long before COVID-19 became a household word
- Guilt lurked as a constant companion for parents of special needs children
- Marriages crumbled under the strain of disability
- Family members of alcoholics and addicts bore the heartbreak of a loved one’s volatile and unstable behavior
- Millions struggled to care for disabled loved ones and/or aging parents
- 22 Veterans committed suicide each day
- Fellow citizens felt the sting of discrimination
- Chronic pain persisted for so many plagued by disease or injury
- Death remained inevitable
No politician, health official, or vaccine can provide us with certainty. We shore up the best we can while learning to make peace with ambiguity. We shake hands with uncertainty.
My family has been living with this uncertainty for decades. Recently, in a sequestered room in a local community hospital, my wife fought the COVID-19 virus.
“Are you scared,” I asked through my mask.
“A little,” she replied through her own mask. “But I’ve been through worse.”
Reflecting on Gracie’s 80+ operations, amputations, life-threatening infections, pulmonary emboli, and multiple times facing death since her 1983 accident, I nodded silently. Indeed, she has been through worse.
Then, with a fever approaching 103, she started singing, “In Christ Alone, I place my trust, and find my glory in the power of the Cross.”
Why? What does Gracie know and glean from such a belief that sustains her in “…these uncertain times?”
She knows the same thing that sustained Corrie ten Boom in a concentration camp. She anchors herself in what steadied the heart of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as he approached the gallows. Martin Luther King, Jr. clearly lived in uncertain times, and yet he summoned the courage to go to Memphis. From Thomas Cranmer to John Wycliffe, from the Apostle Paul to Daniel in a den of lions, history is filled with those who stood steadfastly during uncertain times.
John Newton penned the anthem for those who choose to fix their eyes on certainty during great uncertainty.
“Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home."
Newton’s stanza – his hymn – is not sentiment. Rather, it is born from conviction rooted in a single sentence in scripture.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me,” Psalm 23:4 (KJV).
That verse, and the reality it describes, has strengthened and sustained billions. And will fortify billions more.
“In these uncertain times” describes the entire history of human beings. It seems hardwired into our DNA to fear what we don’t know. Understandably so. We often travel frightening and even horrifying roads. The virus now takes its place in a long line of heart-quelling maladies.
While a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus will eventually be discovered, no vaccine exists for uncertain times.
But there is a Savior.