“NOTHING IS EVER SURE?” By Pastor YAU
Text: James -17; Hebrews 13:8 November 13, 2005.
1) A true story: On November 10, 1975, freighter Edmund Fitzgerald sank in the cold water of Lake Superior in a fierce storm. Only a week before the tragedy, chief steward Robert Rafferty had written to his wife, “I may be home by November 8. However, nothing is ever sure.” The prophetic irony of his words was noted in a news paper article listing the 29 crew members who died in that storm.
2) A reminder: Not a day passes without the realization that our earthly life and everything we may have in this world may be lost at any moment. Someone had said, “We are here today, but we may be gone tomorrow.” This is not some pessimistic expression it is an honest assessment of life. Uncertainly is a real part of life.
WHY IS NOTHING EVER SURE? How nice it would be if life and everything else in it is always certain and sure so we may plan and expect exactly what would happen. Why is it that nothing is ever sure?
1) Because we just don’t know: The inability of knowing tomorrow is part of being human even though it is so painfully true. We are here in an unknown world facing unknown future. In many cases, we live at the mercy of everything else surrounding us: the nature, the people, the environment, our own physical condition and all the elements that affect us. It takes a perfect balance of all the elements that we may live and live well. No one is able to ever predict what may happen tomorrow.
2) Because we have no control: This is another inability of being human: we just have no control what or how things may happen. All we can do is hope and guess and no more. From the nature to people, from our own health condition to world economy, from a love relationship to your job security, we have very little, if any, control of it. We may do our best, put in all you can, but still not sure what it might happen or how others may think of us. Many try to take control of their own lives, lives of others, business, political power even a relationship, but we can only hope and wish that it may go well as we want it to. Yet, we have no control at all.
3) Because no one is the center of the world: This has to do with our unrealistic secret desire: we want to be the center of the world. Regardless of how big or how small that “world” may be, we all have built a little world and hope that everything and everyone exist to serve our purpose. We develop this wish from the days when we were babies. As we grow older and our world gets larger and larger everyday, we learn the truth that we are not the center of the world and very few things, if any, are certain to happen the way we want them to happen. The list of uncertainty grows longer each day.
4) Because we don’t see things as God sees: In God, all things are under His control and nothing is uncertain. His will and His plans are determined way before we were even born. There is no accident nor just happen in Him. The fact that we feel nothing is sure is because we don’t or can’t see things the way God sees. All things are certain in God. People who are closer to God in spiritual sense may see more and better on how things happen and there will be less uncertainty in their life experience.
THINGS THAT ARE NEVER SURE: (James -16) Most of us have our own list of things we believe that are never sure. Yet there are several things in common most of us will agree that they are never sure.
1) Our life is never sure: (4:14) This is not a threat nor a pessimistic thought, it is a calm and factual assessment of life: no one is for sure that he/she will live tomorrow or next month or next year. All we can do is hope that we may live, but there is no guarantee at all. We have read, heard and seen too many true stories that life got snapped away in a blink of the eye without any warning. This should be enough to give us a humble and sober attitude about ourselves. We are absolutely fragile and we only live at the mercy of the Lord.
2) Our plans are never sure: () Most of us will agree that planning is important in everyone’s life and we need to have good planning in things we do. But we also know that our plans are never sure because there are so many variables or factors that will affect our plans and the results of them and we have very little control of those variables and factors. This is true in our jobs, our income, our future, our pursuit of career or business. We can and need to plan, but we can never be sure that they will work to bring out the results we intend to. Too many dreams were shattered and too much effort rendered fruitless and heart breaking.
3) Our securities are never sure: This includes security of our future or finance. Prudent people will do things to protect their security: saving for the future, investment for retirement, install alarms at home and in business. Some even keep guns at home, in business or in the cars to protect their security. While all these measures are good and necessary in many ways, no one is really secured on their investment, business deals, their life, their family. You may get insurance money when your security is jeopardized, but your sense of security is never secure or sure. Business may go down, homes got broke in, accidents may happen and the list goes on and on.
4) Our health is never sure: People today are very health conscious. They invest tons of time and money and do everything to keep their bodies healthy. Health food and business are big money making machines. We all need to take good care of our bodies and keep them healthy. But no one is sure of a life without sickness. Disease, many times deadly ones, will strike without warning. Life may get cut short because of terminal conditions. With all the science and technology, no one can detect or cure many diseases we all are afraid of. Health is a gift, not a sure thing we can give ourselves.
HOW TO HANDLE UNCERTAINTY? No one likes to be in uncertain situation: love relationship, marriage, business, friendship, health and many other situations. We all look for certainty in our life but things just don’t always happen the way we want them to. Facing uncertainty is never easy and is always stressful. What can we do to better handle uncertain situations? Here are some good strategies from the Bible:
1) We have an omniscient God: One of the attributes of God is His omniscience---His ability of all-knowing. There is never a time or a thing that is a surprise to Him. He knows from everlasting to everlasting. Even though we may feel it is so uncertain, it is all in His will and plan that things happen to us. His all knowing is so assuring in times of uncertainty. All we need to do is turn to Him for guidance and answers in time of uncertainty. He always knows what to do and where to go. We need not to be panic because our Heavenly Father knows it all.
2) We have the ever-loving Lord Jesus: The Apostle Paul expressed His confidence in the ever-loving Lord Jesus and His power to do all things. He said, “I can do all things, including the most dreadful and uncertain situation, through Him who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13) Besides the promise of eternal life, believing in the Lord Jesus gives us that certainty of power to go through all kinds of conditions including the uncertain ones. Jesus promised to be a shepherd to protect us from harm, to lead us through life’s most fearful situations. He promised to answer our prayers in time of confusion. He also promised to heal our wounds when we are hurt. He is our best friend.
3) We have the best Counselor/Comforter: Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He promised to send the Great Counselor and Comforter, the Holy Spirit to dwell in us to inspire us in time of confusion, to guide us into the right path when we don’t know which way to go, to help us make the right decision when we don’t know what to do, to comfort us in time or sorrow and loss and to sustain us when we are weak and about to give up. God lives in us through the Holy Spirit so we will never be lonely or afraid.
4) We have the Church, the Body of Christ: Jesus founded the Church as His representatives on earth to bear witness of His love and to lead others to Him. He also built the church for the support and fellowship of His followers. The church is our spiritual family from which we draw love, support, good counsel and assistance in time of need. From the early days of Christian history, the church has been the shelter in time of storm to millions of Christians. It is here at the church, we feel belong and have peace. The church is a spiritual home away from your natural home and in many times, it is much closer than your natural home. When saints pray together, there is power, love and courage.
1) Uncertainty is part of life: We are human. We can never sure what may happen tomorrow. Accept our limitation is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it is courageous to admit our humanity. Be humble and admit that we are never sure of many things.
2) But there is help to handle uncertainty: Our heavenly Father in the Lord Jesus and His Holy Spirit are always there to help us going through uncertain days. His love and power are more than sufficient to meet our needs. Don’t travel the path of life all by yourself. There is God who wants to go with you.
3) One thing is certain: Eternal life: Do you have a place to go after life here on earth? Jesus has prepared a place for all who will believe in Him. There is eternity for you in Jesus. Ask Him to forgive your sins and receive your share of eternity.