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“We don’t need you anymore,” he said.
My face froze and a flush worked its way down my body. My thundering heart almost drowned him out, as he droned on about my severance package.
“I’ve given this company 5 years of my life,” my heart whispered silently.
I stared mutely at the side of his face as his words tumbled into the swirling tension. And I noticed, as if from a distance, that he didn’t once look me in the eye.
I’d never been made redundant before. Never been broken up with. I’d always been the one to decide that it was time to move on.
Always before at the end of a chapter, I’d been prepared. That’s not to say I didn’t feel. Sad? Yes. Disappointed? Of course. Hurt? Sometimes.
But uncertain? Not if I could help it. Yet, here I was.
Triggers In Times Of Uncertainty
These new, uncertain times that we’re living through catapulted me back to my ex-boss’ office.
With all the recent upheavals, I’ve been repeatedly reliving those life-changing minutes and the time immediately following them. Caught in a loop, like Groundhog Day.
Back then, I had lots of feelings.
Relief, because by then I hated my job.
Anger, because who were they decide I wasn’t good enough for their company?
But mostly I felt afraid of the sudden time of uncertainty looming in my future.
You know what I mean, right? That out of control feeling when someone makes a decision that changes the course of your life..without consulting you.
That feeling of vertigo when someone carelessly drops a new, explosive piece of information into your well-organized world. One that irrevocably whacks it into another orbit.
The disorientation when someone changes the rules of engagement. And you’re left floundering because you suddenly have no point of reference.
It’s the sudden job loss, or pay cut, or betrayal. It’s the uncertainty you suddenly live with.
Reacting To Uncertainty
Most people — understandably — react out of pain and fear in times of uncertainty.
Maybe you lash out in anger or sink into sadness. Maybe you lose yourself in a vice, to escape and numb your feelings.
Or maybe you kick into fix-it mode, researching every possible option. Trying to figure out what to do next. Perhaps becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed by overthinking or indecision.
Whatever you do, your underlying intention is usually to regain control and restore certainty in your life.
Ironically, it’s easy to forget that life itself is uncertain and trying to create certainty is futile.
In fact, while these reactions are understandable, they’re not very helpful. Because in your scramble to get your equilibrium back, you may end up off-balance longer than necessary.
So what should you do when a new, unwelcome time of uncertainty crashes into your life?
Let’s look at some bible verses about uncertainty, and consider taking 4 important biblical steps first.
Bible Verses For Times Of Uncertainty
Like most of us, Joseph’s life started out soaked in certainty.
He was Jacob’s favorite son, and his dad doted on him. His family was wealthy, so he was materially secure. And God gave him big visions of his future, so he was pretty confident.
Then suddenly, because of his brothers’ jealousy (and, let’s face it, Jacob’s poor parenting and Joseph’s own folly), his life became unpredictable (Genesis 37).
First, his brothers threw him into a pit, where he couldn’t know what would happen next and had no say in his destiny.
Then Potiphar bought him as a slave, where the only steady thing he knew was doing what he was told every day.
For a time, Joseph’s equilibrium probably returned as he prospered in Potiphar’s house. But then Potiphar’s wife brought him into another headlong collision with uncertainty.
Joseph was thrown into jail and forgotten for years, not knowing if his chance for justice would ever come.
He was about 17 years old when his world started crumbling and he didn’t know certainty again until he was 30 years old, when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream.
Thirteen years of uncertainty, of being kicked around by others’ decisions.
It makes you wonder how he didn’t give up, turn bitter, or become clinically depressed.
Instead, Joseph navigated those times of uncertainty with his good attitude and faith intact. And he made a comeback every time.
How did he do it? And how can you do it, too?
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
Declare me innocent, O God! Defend me against these ungodly people. Rescue me from these unjust liars. For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?Psalm 43:1-2, NLT
These anguish-soaked verses could be Joseph’s cry from prison. Or a lament about his unconscionable brothers, and his unfair situation.
Confused over circumstances that he can’t control, the psalmist pours out his feelings to God in a prayer for uncertainty.
But he doesn’t wallow in his feelings or allow them to take over.
Instead, he asks God for guidance and resolves to praise Him, despite the circumstances. Then he ends the psalm:
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!Psalm 43:5, NLT
So face your pain, hurt, disappointment or fear, and offer them up to God. Acknowledge and fully express them.
Then leave them with God, as many times as you need to. And renew your hope in Him.
2. Take It One Day At A Time
Jesus covered a lot in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Most of it has to do with our heart attitude.
But right in the middle of His message, Jesus dropped some knowledge that you can apply in times of uncertainty.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.Matthew 6:34, NLT
In other words, keep your eyes set on what’s before you today. Plan for tomorrow but don’t fret over it. Because as Jesus asked just a few verses earlier:
Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?Matthew 6:27, NLT
Back to Joseph. Genesis 39:2 and 21 tell us that the Lord was with him and prospered him, both with Potiphar and the jailer. Sounds like life was good again, right?
Not so much. Remember, Joseph didn’t want those uncertain circumstances. He was enslaved and imprisoned.
But he couldn’t have risen to a position of trust in both places if he had spent his time worrying every day.
3. Seek God For What’s Next
The Psalms cover the full range of human emotions. Joy, sorrow, praise, despair. If you can feel it, you can find a psalm for it.
But they also gave guidance that you can apply in times of uncertainty. For instance, David says:
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”Psalm 32:8, NLT
So when your impulse is to make a desperate grab for the reins and restore certainty to your life, stop. Take a few deep breaths, then seek God for your next best step.
This may mean fasting and praying as you wait on Him. Or praying and seeking godly counsel from a trusted mentor. Or praying and sitting with your uncertainty for a time until your emotions stop running the show.
Whatever it looks like, you won’t know your next best step if you don’t fervently seek God for it.
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.Matthew 7:7-8, NLT
As for Joseph, we don’t know for sure that he sought the Lord’s next best step for him. But we do know that He deferred to the Lord. And sometimes, that’s the same thing.
“It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”Genesis 41:16, NLT
4. Faithfully Take Your Next Best Step
So you’ve sought the Lord about what to do next.
It may be staying right where you are for now. Or forgiving someone. Or leaping into a scary, uncertain new project or career.
You may not even be 100% sure that it’s really what God wants you to do.
But one thing is for sure: in times of uncertainty, your next best step is usually uncomfortable or downright scary.
So what then?
You faithfully take that step anyway. Because God’s got you.
David says as much:
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.Psalm 37:23-24, NLT
Back to Joseph. He wasn’t complacent about where he was. He didn’t accept it, and he sure didn’t want to stay there. The injustice of his uncertain circumstances pained him but, despite his feelings, Joseph chose to be excellent where he was.
He chose to be compassionate to 2 sad, newly imprisoned men. To interpret their dreams. And to ask the cupbearer not to forget him.
Every single time, Joseph took the next best step…no matter how small.
Life Is Uncertain But God Is Not
Back in my ex-boss’ office, his spiel finally wound down after about 3 minutes.
I can’t recall how I responded. But I remember walking out of his office and into an uncertain future. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn from Joseph then.
First, I chose to wallow in my victimhood for a while. Then I blundered through my time of uncertainty, making all kinds of missteps while wrestling my life back under control.
I didn’t focus on taking one step at a time. Instead, I tried to manufacture lofty new goals to chase. To salve my wounded pride and distract me from my fear.
And I didn’t seek God for my next best step. Instead, I sought myself and a bunch of self-help experts.
As a result, I bumbled my way through that uncertain time. And came out more battered and bruised than I had to.
But not this time.
Because if we have complete faith in God, we won’t have room to worry over the times of uncertainty that are sure to come in our lives.
Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.Psalm 27:25, NLT