Carola is a Christian writer and author of several books. She writes about Christian living, relationships, and other related topics.
Sometimes life throws us a curveball that changes our lives forever. Uncertainty stirs up our fears, overwhelms our senses, and makes us anxious. The story of Joseph in the Bible reveals that he faced several times of uncertainty in his life.
When we first encounter Joseph, he seemed to have it made. Joseph was his dad Jacob's favorite, a golden boy who, according to Broadway, owned an amazing technicolor dream coat. His dreams foretold that he would have a rosy future ruling over others (Genesis 37, 39-48).
Then Joseph's life took some unexpected turns into the unknown. He faced various unexpected challenges that created uncertainty about his future. We do not know much about what Joseph thought about this situation, but his thoughts may have been like this.
- Joseph was thrown into a cistern: "Will my brothers leave me here? Will someone rescue me?"
- He was sold to some Midianite merchants, who sell him to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials: "What will the future hold? What work will I be doing? Will my masters be kind or cruel to me?"
- Potifar's wife falsely accuses him of trying to seduce her: "What will be my fate -- death or prison? Will my innocence be revealed? Will I be exonerated?"
While Joseph was in prison, he helped the chief cupbearer of the Pharaoh and a fellow prison inmate by interpreting their dreams. The dream of the cupbearer revealed that he would be released and get his job back. Joseph told him that he was innocent of wrongdoing and asked the cupbearer to speak to the Pharaoh about him.
When the cupbearer forgot about him, Joseph must have wondered if the servant would ever remember him and wondered how long he was going to be stuck here? It was two years before the servant remembered Joseph.
Like Joseph, all Christians face times of great uncertainty. We ask:
"How do I recover from this financial setback?"
"Am I going to lose my job? If I do, will I find a new one?"
"How do I live my life as a divorced person?"
"What can I do to cope with ... (chronic illness, mental illness)? What does the future look like?"
"Will my son or daughter ever stop abusing drugs and seek help?"
An unknown future can cause us tremendous anxiety, frustration, and fear. We long for the comfort and security of knowing what tomorrow brings. Fortunately, the Bible teaches us how to cope when life is unpredictable. Joseph is one of many Biblical examples of resilience and success during difficult times.
How We Can Survive Times of Uncertainty
Pray About It
Instead of leaning on our understanding, we should trust God and seek His will (Proverbs 3:5-6). Jesus said that the door will be opened to everyone who knocks (Matthew 7:7-8).
Hold On to Faith and Hope
We will always have many trials and sorrows here on earth, but Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). God promises us that He would always be with us when life is tough. He will bless us. Jesus wants us to lay down our heavy burdens and rest in Him. We must trust in God at all times (Psalm 62:8). God is faithful in the midst of adversity, as He was with Joseph.
Live a Godly Life
Bestselling author Max Lucado discussed Joseph in his book Anxious for Nothing and called him a “model prisoner.” Joseph was successful at any job he was given. He demonstrated godly qualities such as hard work, reliability, and trustworthiness. We should also demonstrate these characteristics, even though we are insecure about the future.
Resist Worrying and Fretting
Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives (Matthew 6: 25). Worry creates anxiety that can be all-consuming. I know of one woman who worried all of her life that she would break her leg. She never did. All the time she spent fretting could have been spent enjoying life and on more productive endeavors.
There are several techniques we can use to reduce our worries about the future. We can be reassured by the many examples of God’s faithfulness in the Bible. Jesus taught us to look to creation as examples of how God takes care of us. He told us not to worry about tomorrow because each day has its own troubles (Matthew 6:25-34).
The old adage saying that we should live one day at a time is true. Life is a lot less stressful that way. When we sweat the big stuff we often cannot control, we will feel overwhelmed. If we do not get a job today, there is always tomorrow.
Another strategy I have found useful is to avoid catastrophic thinking. These thoughts can create tremendous anxiety and fear that tells us we cannot handle challenging situations.
Catastrophic thinking tells us we will never get a job and will be miserable. We will live in poverty. Our mates will leave us. Instead, we can imagine the worst-case scenario and how we would deal with it. When we face our fears, we will calm down and realize that we are stronger than we think with God's help. New options may come to light.
Recognize and Take Advantage of Opportunities
When the cupbearer was thrown into prison, Joseph helped him by interpreting his dream. Joseph recognized an opportunity to get a get-out-of-jail-free card. He asked the servant to mention his plight to the Pharaoh. It took a while, but Joseph did get out of prison eventually.
The Bible has many encouraging scriptures that can guide us through times of uncertainly. Wise friends and counselors can also be a source of encouragement and help.
Learn Lessons From the Situation
Joseph recognized that God uses hard times for the good of those who love God (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28). As human beings, we need to be open to change, even though we hate stepping out of our comfort zones. Circumstances are often temporary and are resolved in the future.
In the book Searching for Certainty: Finding God in the Disruptions of Life, authors Shelly Miller and Emily Freeman said: "If you are allowing uncertainty in the world to determine how useful you are to God, maybe it's time to rethink who and what is informing your value and worth."
Uncertain times can show us reveal areas that need work, such as low-self esteem, unhealthy relationships, and a distorted self-image. Unstable times not only teaches us who we are; it tells us who God is.
We must keep in mind the words of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Life can be full of uncertainty, but God is not. He hears our cries, saves us, and fulfills our desires (Psalm 145:18-19).
The Holy Bible, New International Version
How to Deal with Uncertainty, beliefnet.com, By Meerabelle Dey
Dealing With Uncertainty, Leadership Ministries
How I’m Learning Not to Worry While Dealing With Uncertainty, Life Church, Tommy Bond
20 Scriptures to Help You Have Faith in God When the World Feels Upside Down, crosswalk.com, Jennifer Heeren
A Christian’s Response to Uncertainty, Proverbs 31 Ministries, Joel Muddamalle
© 2021 Carola Finch