How to Flourish in Uncertain Times

There was a day—and I’m old enough to remember it—when the United States of America was the envy of the world. Sure, we had times of uncertainty and upheaval, but as a whole, ours was a prosperous economy with a government system that served as a shining model to all others. And we had confidence! With a little American ingenuity and a lot of hard work, we believed that we could fix any problem. The future, for the most part, was bright.

Sadly, we’ve taken some significant hits in recent years. The horrific events of 9/11 jolted us into the stark, unpleasant reality of human hatred. Then, the Great Recession—from which we’ve never fully recovered—burst the bubble of our economic confidence. Now, we face the pain of a massive national debt combined with the gridlock of a divided government. Government problems become much more real to the general populace when they negatively affect our ability to pay our bills and put food on the table.

No easy answers are to be found these days. Politicians on both sides of the aisle seem unworthy of our trust. I can’t help but notice quite a few people who were once staunch Democrats or Republicans have lost confidence in both political parties.

photo credit: ucumari via photopin cc
photo credit: ucumari via photopin cc

Central to our malaise is a painful erosion of trust. We don’t trust our government leaders, we don’t trust our corporate leaders, and we don’t trust our religious leaders. In all honesty, I’m not sure if there is any segment of society in which we have confidence. For every bright and shining star that rises on the horizon, another seems to fall into corruption and shame. How is a person to flourish in such a toxic environment?

Simply put, the answer is faith.  I refer not to some blind belief in a far off god, but a confident trust in the Creator of the Universe who has gone to amazing lengths to bring us abundant life. Such a life, however, is not defined by the American Dream, but by the fullness of God’s kingdom. It is with the coming of His kingdom that we find lasting peace, security, and vitality.

According to the Bible, faith focused in the wrong direction isn’t faith at all. Those who rest the full weight of their confidence in anything of human design will find themselves sorely disappointed in the end. Such a reality applies as much to a nation as it does its individual citizens. Call it idolatry, misplaced trust, or whatever you will, but those who rest their confidence in the material world will certainly falter.

Almost 15 years ago, I walked away from apparent economic security in the field of Chemistry into the uncertain financial provision in faith-based ministry. Admittedly, the transition has been painful at times as I’ve struggled to adjust to a radically new paradigm. But as I have learned to lean heavily on my heavenly Father, I have discovered an amazing truth: regardless of what happens in the world around them, those who live with an active faith in God will flourish—regardless of their economic status.

One particular passage of Scripture has helped me to lay hold of this reality:

Thus says the Lord,
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the Lord.
“For he will be like a bush in the desert
And will not see when prosperity comes,
But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness,
A land of salt without inhabitant.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord
And whose trust is the Lord.
“For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.  Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NASB)

photo credit: Jon Ovington via photopin cc
photo credit: Jon Ovington via photopin cc

We cannot deny that human institutions are crumbling as our world violently shakes. I, however, refuse to be among those who remain blind to the real prosperity of God’s coming kingdom—a government that will one day expose all others as cheap imposters.

Have I given up on our nation? By no means. I love this country and want to see it do well in every respect. Regardless of what transpires, however, I will seek to put my full confidence in the only One who is truly worthy of my trust. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow. In this truth, I will flourish. And so can you!