Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bread or Stone?

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake?” (Matthew 7:9-10, NIV 1984).

The older I become, the more often I lose a person I love to death. Will I really see them again?
I spoke last night to a patient about an uncertain spot on his scan. Will that spot change his life forever?
My son is finishing his master’s degree. The company with which he has interned, and counted on for employment, is downsizing. Will he be able to find a job in this economy and marry the girl he loves? My parents are becoming forgetful. Will they soon have to struggle with a life of dementia?

As doctors we strive to control the circumstances of our patients’ illnesses, and sometimes let that desire for control bleed over into our own lives. We become frustrated and even angry when we cannot predict or change our own circumstances or, more importantly, the circumstances of those we love.

But the nature of the Christian life suggests we should not fear the uncertainties in life; instead, we should make uncertainty our friend. Uncertainty should be welcomed, not because life will turn out the way we choose but because it will turn out better than we choose. Life will turn out better than we choose because our future lies in the hands of the God who knows, who cares and who can. Oswald Chambers puts it this way:

We are apt to look upon uncertainty as a bad thing…but all through the Bible, the realm of uncertainty is the realm of joy and delight…The nature of our spiritual life is that we are certain in our uncertainty…To be certain of God means that we are delightfully uncertain in all our ways…A little child is certain of its parents, but uncertain about everything else, therefore it lives a perfectly delightful, healthy life.

The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers

A breast cancer patient, uncertain of her future, once handed me a poem by an unknown author. It reads:

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the years,
“Give me light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than the unknown.”

All of our lives, this side of the grave, we will be stepping into the darkness. But we do not step alone. We can be certain of the one who waits for us in that darkness and we can know that he will carry us through… “even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you” (Psalm 139: 12, NIV 1984).

Dear Father,
I know not what tomorrow holds but I know who holds tomorrow. Let me live like it.

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