The value of uncertainty

The recent U.S. presidential election and the British vote for Brexit underline once again that we live in a surprising and uncertain world.

How should Christians react to unexpected change?

We can be angry if we don’t like the change.  Or, we can despair, feeling that the world is falling apart.  Or, we can rejoice, expecting that our plans are finally going to be carried out.

Or, is there another way?  I believe there is.

I think uncertainty is good for us.  It forces us to look beyond our world to God.  It makes believers recognize that we cannot put our ultimate hope in other human beings.

As I have said before, I am passionate about politics – probably too passionate.

I am now old enough to know that no political change is permanent and that today’s hero may well be tomorrow’s villain in the eyes of the people.  Too often, we political partisans put our faith in a new world order – the particular world order of our dreams.

As I think about this, it seems to me that the Jewish captive Daniel showed believers long ago how to live in a tumultuous and sometimes frightening world.

As his story begins in the biblical book of Daniel, he is a young man carted away from his conquered homeland in Judah to Babylon.  He and most of his countrymen are slaves and at the mercy of the great conqueror, Nebuchadnezzar.

Rather than despairing, Daniel remains true to his faith and trusts in God to take him through the trials ahead.  At the same time, he treats his new masters with respect and wisdom.

He goes through many trials in his long life – several times facing death at the hands of enemies and capricious monarchs.  But in each case, he turns to God for insight and guidance and God responds – even giving him interpretations to dreams that alarmed the king.

On one occasion, his enemies trap the king into demanding that everyone – Daniel included – worship him as a god.  Daniel openly prays to his Lord as he always has, showing that he is not willing to compromise his belief that God is the only god.  He survives this test as he survived others during his life.

Jesus makes clear that we are to worship God above all while living lawfully and peacefully under human governors.

God gave Daniel some insight into how history would unfold through an angelic vision.  There would be a series of kingdoms rising and falling until God would bring history to an end with a final judgement.

This tells me that there will never be a perfect, everlasting world order run by human beings.

Rather than despair, I believe Christians are called to live as Jesus did in whatever world we are in.

God will handle the rest.

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