I previously wrote that Christians aim to live a life that is centered on God, but you can also avoid one. I want to discuss this by looking at the life of Jonah so that you won’t avoid a God-centered life but cultivate one. You can avoid it for a...
Have you ever felt like you don’t know what to do next? Like you’re at a crossroad? You feel stuck, like you’re paralyzed, insecure and unsure of your next step. Do you ever fear the future because you have no idea what you’re supposed to do?
I have, and the feeling is not a good one. It’s cold and overwhelming. You feel lost and directionless, despairing about which way to go, wondering about God’s will. There are a million paths, and you dread choosing the wrong one.
You simply don’t know what to do.
Identify the Root of Fear
Like I said, I’ve been there. Near the end of college, I was swallowed by uncertainty. I had so many options, opportunities, and choices, and my life was a giant question mark. I’m a planner, and I had no plan. I was afraid.
Yet it was in this moment of not knowing what to do that God began to teach me the perfect peace that comes from reliance on him. And it was this that sustained me.
It started with realizing the root of my fear: distrust of God. I was afraid because I felt out of control – and I like to be in control. I want to be self-reliant and independent. Fear is rooted in pride. We aren’t humble enough to believe that God is in control, that he is good, and that he loves us. All fear comes from pride, but especially fear of the future. This fear is fueled by trusting in our feelings. Therefore, the only way we can combat it is by trusting in truth.
Surrender Your Fear
Once I realized my fear was a pride problem, I was forced to repent. As much as I wanted to blame it on my circumstances or personality, my anxiety about the future was sin. At this point, I had to surrender my will and selfish desire for control. And that was desperately hard! It is desperately hard, something I still have to do almost daily. Saying, “Your will be done” is a lot easier than believing it. But freedom from fear results from surrendering all to God.
This is when the Lord started reinforcing a profound lesson that I continue wrestling with even today: God is most glorified in my weakness. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church and said that the Christian’s ministry and work is entirely a result of God’s mercy. He said: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
When we are weak, God is strong. As much as we hate our lack of control and power, that is a crucial part of our humanity. It reminds us that God is in control. God is sovereign. God is omnipotent and omniscient. Glory belongs only to him, now and forever.
This is what paves the path to peace—peace comes from joyfully embracing our weakness. We don’t know what the future holds, we have no control, but we can trust the One who does. Crucify your fear because of the Man who died to secure your ultimate future.
Think About Eternity
When my fear of the future inevitably springs up again (because even though I’m at a much different place than senior year, I still continue to fight it), I think about the end of the story. I think about the post-future, the future that will come one day when there will be no more fear. I think about the return of Christ and the perfect kingdom he will bring, the new heaven and the new earth. I think about that joy.
This is how Zephaniah 3:14-17 pictures it:
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save.”
This motivates me to choose contentment now. Yes, a better day is coming, but God has given us a task right now, to gratefully embrace the circumstances he’s put us in. We might feel in-between, stuck, confused about the next step, but our call is clear: Trust God and rejoice in the day he’s given us. That doesn’t mean we don’t make decisions, consult godly counsel, or plan the next steps. It means we do these things with humility, selflessness, and surrender. We do them with an attitude that cries from the heart, “Your will, yes, your will, be done – not mine.”
We do them from a mind and heart grounded in peace. Contentment comes from peace. We have the assurance of an all-faithful God who holds our future and has ordained our present, so what do we have to fear?
I write this like it’s simple, but make no mistake – it’s not. Peace, trust, and surrender are wildly difficult. Every day we are tempted to fear, fight for control, doubt God, and worry about our future. So we must fight. Fight fear with trust. Fight fear with contentment. Fight fear with truth. Fight for peace.
We fight because, ultimately, the battle has been won. Jesus won our peace – and that is our hope.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)