Our Brother Jesus Tells Us So

image of Ohio weather courtesy of blog.Cleveland.comI am a weather watcher by nature. Given the variability of Ohio weather, I usually watch the forecasts in the morning and evening with occasional checks of the latest updates on my phone. I like to know what’s going to happen next. Though I can enjoy a good mystery book as much as the next person, I have occasionally flipped to the back just to see how it all turns out. To be fair, I did finish the book with just as much relish because I could watch for clues as I was reading that pointed toward the anticipated outcome of the story. I liked the certainty of knowing how everything turns out.

Life usually doesn’t offer us that kind of certainty. Some young people are facing the uncomfortable insecurity of what to do in life, while other people have medical issues that place them in a life-or-death world of uncertainty. Author Joan Wickersham’s mother was in this spot of not knowing the outcome of her cancer prognosis:

“Sometimes the only answer is ‘Who knows?’ My mother’s surgeon said this, when I asked him about her prognosis. I wanted to hug him, even while I believed that deep down he knew that she was going to die. But she went through surgery and chemo and she didn’t die, though the next few years were terrifying. Learning to live with uncertainty is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and I’m continually having to re-learn it. But there is also something deeply lovely about uncertainty: the possibility of optimism. If the story of the future truly isn’t written yet, who’s to say it won’t end well?”

As Christians we expect our faith to give us certainty about our lives on earth. And it does, though not in the way we think. Jesus himself said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV). We often interpret the purpose of faith to mean that we are somehow shielded from the suffering that comes from living in a world that was created to allow human beings free moral agency. But that’s not the purpose of faith.

Our faith is not that we will be miraculously spared suffering, but our faith is in the character of a loving Father, Son, and Spirit who have included us in their loving relationship, both now and for eternity. Jesus endured suffering as a human, not just the pain of the cross, but also hunger, grief, betrayal, and other physical and emotional pain that we all know so well. Christ’s solidarity with us in our suffering is what he means by “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” In fact, Christ still retains his humanity to this day, seated with the Father and in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and this testifies of the inclusion of humanity into this loving relationship forever.

As Wickersham points out, uncertainty does not necessarily mean something bad will result, nor does knowing the outcome necessarily mean that it is a good one. When faced with not knowing, we can optimistically say, “Who knows?” because our brother Jesus has told us to take heart. Life is a mystery that we can’t flip to the end and read how it turns out, though we can know that we are loved and treasured by God, and this certainty helps us rest in optimism. While the changeability of life can be like Ohio weather, we can’t watch an hourly forecast to see exactly how our latest struggle will be resolved. What we can do is believe that it will end well, despite any suffering we endure along the way. Our brother Jesus tells us so.

~by Nan Kuhlman

photo courtesy of blog.Cleveland.com

1 comment so far

  1. The Great Dance on

    Excellent post, Nan!! The only certainty we have is now. When we rest in Jesus it makes the nows a bit more peaceful and secure.

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