2 minutes reading time (353 words)

Living with uncertainty

We don't like uncertainty - and yet we live with it and can't avoid it. Given that we don't know how each day will unfold - even when we think we have a fixed agenda, it never works out exactly as we expected - or how we will feel and what we will think as it unfolds, uncertainty is pretty much the only thing we can be certain of!

But we don't like it. We crave the security of knowing what's going to happen, even though we know that would be a terrible idea. And when things are going wrong, we long for someone to tell us exactly what needs to be done to put them right. We want our authority figures - doctors, priests, politicians, scientists - to save us from uncertainty by giving us precise and foolproof instructions that will guarantee the right result. But...they can't always do this. SHOCK HORROR!!!

So, unexpectedly, I find myself having some sympathy for our Government, as they come under fire for not giving us absolutely precise instructions, which would produce absolutely certain outcomes. Beyond legitimate concerns about how we can safely return to work and school, I think the Government is right to say, in effect: "Look, we don't really know how things will go, as we ease the lockdown - we're going to have to play it by ear and make further decisions on the hoof." This, at least, is realism rather than incompetence. 

In terms of faith, the calling (however much we dislike it and cry out against it, like the Israelites in the desert) is to accept that the future is unknown - or rather, the only thing we know for certain about the future is that God will be with us. That doesn't mean planning is pointless, it means planning is conditional. The challenge is to embrace uncertainty, while trying to be clear and purposeful in our response to events as they unfold. Can we enjoy the fact that we don't know what's coming next - or will we always be longing for a map, clear instructions, definite outcomes?...


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