You Can Take Heart in Uncertainty

You Can Take Heart in Uncertainty

Uncertainty is a difficult thing to bear. We want to know where the provision is going to come from or if we’re going to die of this disease or how this child is going to turn out or if our job will still be there next month.

But as we see in Luke 9:57–58, Jesus makes it clear that his disciples must be able to bear uncertainty if they are to follow him.

“I will follow you wherever you go.”

I’m sure that whoever made this public declaration to Jesus was sincere. They likely had heard him preach and seen him perform amazing signs and wonders. As Jesus’s fame increased, so did the number of his would-be disciples.

What the person might not have known was that at that moment Jesus was homeless. Jesus and his cohort were traveling south from Galilee. He had set his face to go to Jerusalem, where his resolute purpose was to die. But to get there he had to travel through Samaria.

Getting the Context

Back then there was a lot of bad blood between Jews and Samaritans. More precisely, Samaritans had the bad blood. They were the result of centuries of intermarriage and religious syncretism between Jews and Israel’s former Gentile conquerors.

Over the centuries the Samaritans had developed their own version of the scriptures and built their own temple on their own mountain. Their beliefs were defective distortions of Jewish orthodoxy. Therefore, the Jews had “no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9) and vice versa.

But Jesus had made a bit of a name for himself among the Samaritans. For a Jew, Jesus spoke with and about Samaritans with unprecedented kindness and compassion. In fact, in the town of Sychar he had spoken with a woman of questionable reputation and as a result she and many from that town believed Jesus was the Messiah (John 4:1–42). Be that as it may, Jesus was turned away from a Samaritan town when he attempted to make lodging arrangements there. If his face was set toward Jerusalem, he wasn’t welcome.

This really ticked off the disciples. The Samaritans weren’t just heretics, they were ingrates. James and John wanted to burn the town off the map.

Things Will Go “Wrong”

But Jesus hadn’t come to judge the world. He had come to save it (John 12:47). So he simply moved on without any place to stay the night.

So when an adoring fan announced his desire to follow him anywhere, Jesus deglamorized things a bit by replying, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58).

God doesn’t tell us how that person responded because what’s important is the implied question: can you bear uncertainty? Can you bear not knowing how God is going to provide for your most urgent needs and still trust that he will?

It is a question that Jesus wants all of his disciples to wrestle with. There are simply going to be times when we don’t know where the provision is going to come from. Circumstances will look precarious, sometimes foreboding and threatening. Plans are going to fall through. People are going to disappoint us. They may reject or misunderstand our mission. If these things happened to Jesus, we should not be surprised when they happen to us. And we are not to become angry when they do. Note that Jesus rebuked James and John for their response (Luke 9:55).

You Can Take Heart

Jesus does not want us to be governed by fear at such times. He wants us governed by faith. The reason is that the uncertainty is only apparent uncertainty. Our future and our provision and our ultimate triumph are certain to God. He has all the foreknowledge, power, resources, and desire to turn everything for good for those who love him and are called by him (Romans 8:28).

Apparently uncertain seasons are usually the most powerful God-moments we experience. They often put God on display more than other seasons, demonstrating that God exists and rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

So if you are in one of those seasons, take heart. You are likely experiencing what it means to have a God “who acts for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4).


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Jon Bloom (@Bloom_Jon) is the author of Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith and serves as the President of Desiring God, which he and John Piper launched together in 1994. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Pam, their five children, and one naughty dog.