How to Develop Confidence in Uncertain Times
Updated: Sep 27, 2022
I initially wrote this shortly after the start of the 2020 pandemic. Two years later, I am revisiting it to see if the times are still "uncertain" or if we can place our confidence in the "world" and our elected leaders. Based on what I see, we need God more than ever.
"Let us, therefore, draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." -- Hebrews 4:16 (NASB)
If you still watch television, you'll notice that many commercials preface their message with, "During these uncertain times..."
In most cases, their message creates a sense of fear, doubt, scarcity, doom, and gloom. But, of course, their product is specifically designed to help you regain confidence that everything will be well if you just buy their stuff.
But when in human history have the times actually been certain? Do a snapshot search of the news on any random day, and you'll likely find a catastrophic event (or perceived catastrophe) somewhere on planet earth. Living--especially for non-believers and lukewarm Christians--has always been uncertain. It always will be until the end.
A World of Uncertainty and Its Impact on Us
The uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is impacting people's mental health. Jean M. Twenge and Thomas E. Joiner reported on a U.S. Census Bureau study of the prevalence of depressive disorder and anxiety disorder in the U.S. in 2019 and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The results show that compared to 2019, the prevalence of depressive disorder and anxiety disorder increased more than three times. See the full article here.
Layered on top of the pandemic are uncertainty about the 2020 presidential election, economic losses, civil violence, earthquakes, rogue meteors, wildfires, floods, wars, and rumors of war. The threat of nuclear annihilation continues. The doomsday clock ticks down second by second. Even for the unbeliever, it sounds like the end times prophecy we read in The Book of Revelation!
When you aren't confident from one minute to the next that you'll have an income to support your family and live through a terrorist attack, tsunami, or other disasters, it's NORMAL that you'll experience anxiety.
I like bumper stickers. They hint at how the person who plastered the message on the car perceives their "reality."
One bumper sticker said, "With God, life is stressful. Without God, it is infinitely more so!" The person acknowledges the reality that life isn't always smooth sailing. However, God is given credit for at least somewhat calming the storm, just as Jesus did with His disciples (exp. see Matthew 8:26).
You are probably familiar with the bumper sticker, "God is my co-pilot." Again, a nod to the Almighty. Clearly, a person shares in the existential condition and the suffering that can come with it. However, they are making a statement that they are not alone...God is with them.
But the one that says, "My passenger is my co-pilot," mocks God and those who believe in His authority. First, I would not ride with them at the wheel as a passenger. Mocking God during the end Times reminds me of an old poster. It was a tiny field mouse giving the middle finger to an eagle--talon out--swooping in for dinner. The caption read, "THE LAST GREAT ACT OF DEFIANCE."
Maybe the bumper sticker should read, "I am God's co-pilot."
Anxiety and Its Effect on Confidence
Suppose we acknowledge that stressful life events can provoke feelings of anxiety. In that case, we can better determine--with confidence--if the anxiety is "normal" or not. Normal anxiety is proportional to the perceived threat. If someone puts a gun to your head, the anxiety you experience is normal--not abnormal. This is the way of the world and can help us cope in uncertain times.
But even if we see normal anxiety as a legitimate experience when all hell is breaking loose, it does nothing for our confidence in the middle of the storm. Lukewarm Christians are in the same boat as atheists if we do not take God's word at faith value...
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." -- Phillippians 4:6 (NASB)
Be anxious for NOTHING. Now that is the demonstration of confidence in the power of faith. Full disclosure: I'm not to that level of trust yet!
But imagine for a moment what life could be like if we lived by God's instruction and commandments. If we would cast our worries on God with complete confidence that all will be well--not just for now, but for eternity. Our neighbors and loved ones would never suffer the negative impact of anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders leading many to suicide.
If we had confidence in God's promises, we could live each day to the fullest regardless of how uncertain times become. God's promises were true yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God is speaking to all of us when we become anxious. He said...
"He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him. And let him behold My salvation." -- Psalms 91: 15-16 (NASB)
Developing Confidence in Uncertain Times
Thus, developing confidence that rises above the certainty or uncertainty of times is the same. It was hiding in plain sight in Hebrews 4:16, "Let us, therefore, draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Drawing near to God is the key to developing confidence in all circumstances. It allows us to receive God's mercy for our transgressions. We no longer need to live depressed because of past sins or anxiety stricken about the uncertainty of our volatile age.
God also grants us the grace to help others who desperately need encouragement to discover their own confidence.
May God bless you as you step out in faith, drawing closer to God each day and with renewed confidence that your eternal salvation is sure.