Fear of the Unknown
How do you handle the unknowns of life? So much of our difficulties stem from not knowing: What will happen to us in the future, whether tomorrow or a year or ten years? What are we supposed to do about this or that challenge? Why is God allowing this suffering? Hebrews makes a point to emphasize that when God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans, Abraham obeyed “and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8). This “not knowing” was not merely due to being a finite human being. God, in Genesis 12:1, commanded Abraham (then Abram), “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” This was special revelation from God. God knew where Abraham was going. So he intentionally withheld that information, expecting Abraham to follow in trusting faith rather than certain sight.
Does that sound familiar to how God works in your life?
When Jesus called the 12 disciples, he issued a similar command, no less sovereign than it was lacking in detail: “Follow me” (Matt. 4:19). But there is another similarity between the call of Abraham and the call of Peter and Andrew and the rest. Both start with a command but then follow immediately with a promise: “I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19) and “you will be a blessing…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:2-3).
See the pattern here. God calls people to a life of radical following, and rather than spelling out every detail to ease their finite, fallen insecurities, invites them to find security in a very special kind of promise. Not a promise of an easy, comfortable life, nor blessing merely for the sake of self-centered enjoyment. Rather, the promise is radically other-centered: “you will be a blessing”; “I will bless those who bless you”; “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”; “I will make you fishers of men”.
This is a very counter-intuitive comfort. The way Abraham, the 12 disciples, and all followers of Jesus, cope with uncertainty is by focusing their energy and efforts on ministering to others. That is the very same contrast Jesus draws in the Sermon on the Mount. The solution to anxiety over food, drink, and clothing is not a budget, financial planning, or food rationing, but instead to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). We can always be certain of this: in the midst of all manner of uncertainty, Jesus desires for us to be close to him and find security in joining his radical, self-sacrificing love for others.