Most of the time, on the paths we travel, we see only a few steps ahead. We can't predict with certainty which challenges or celebrations we'll be met with around the bend. Oh sure, we look forward to the wedding, the graduation, the new job, but most people I know would say that life surprises them with uncertainty far more often than they could have expected. Those surprises come in pretty packages sometimes. And other times, they come in words like job loss and cancer, a sick child, a broken relationship, a really bad choice that ripples into unforeseen consequences.
Recently, I heard a preacher say: Certainty in this life is based on who you're with.
Meaning, God. Who is with us.
The Christian faith articulates that God never changes. If God is faithful, he can never stop being faithful. If God is love, he cannot stop loving. If God is kind, he can never degrade us. If God is a good father, then he knows our needs before even ask him (so said Jesus).
Jesus' disciples were once awestruck when they witnessed Jesus multiplying a few loaves of bread in order to feed thousands of hungry people. That Jesus could accomplish something so utterly big and foreign and beautiful--miracle of miracles! Bread from bread! Fish from fish! That was a surprise in glorious package.
A little while later, a new surprise for the disciples: a storm. The wind whipping their little boat around in the lake, the men straining at the oars, terrorized by the energy of the waves. The gospel writer Mark says Jesus came to them while they were afraid, walking on the water, and got in the boat with them. When he entered the boat, "immediately the stormy wind became still." Mark tells us the disciples were "completely and utterly overwhelmed with astonishment because they [had] failed to learn the lesson of the miracle of the loaves."
They didn't get it. Who they were with was all that mattered for thousands of hungry bread-and-fish eaters the day before, but the disciples hadn't understood the lesson of the bread--the lesson that Who they were with mattered more than the problem they encountered. So, when they met the storm, they were back to doom-and-gloom all over again: Oh no! This is it guys! I guess we had a good run!
Friends, don't be afraid. I know we don't know how today's problems will be solved, but God-is-Love is with us. God-is-Faithful is with us. God-who-knows-our-need is with us. We can be certain that the same Jesus who cared for the need of the hungry thousands and his storm-tossed friends will speak peace over our storms and feed us what we need at just the right time.
I invite you, lean in to this Certainty.