As the Covid-19 pandemic begins to impact our lives in deeper ways, seemingly in a daily basis, we are all faced with more uncertainty than ever before. There is far more uncertainty today about some of our lives basic needs than there was only a few short weeks ago. How long will this pandemic last? Do we know anyone who has contracted it? Will we or our loved ones contract it? Will a vaccine be developed in time? Will there be any food or other essential supply shortages? When will it be safe to gather again as a church family? Will I still have a job when this is all over? And a whole host of other what ifs.
These uncertainties can be very difficult to deal with, especially on top of all the other usual stresses we might be dealing with at this time. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of scriptures that offer hope in times of uncertainty, particularly Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Or Philippians 4: 6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And, of course, there is all of Psalm 91. But, there is another verse that deals with uncertainty that I’d like to focus on today.
In Luke 9, starting at verse 51, Jesus and his disciples are travelling through Samaria on their way from Galilee to Jerusalem. Samaria was a place where Jews were not always welcome. There was a lot of historical ill-will between Jews and Samaritans, and although Jesus was welcomed in some places because of His growing reputation, there were many more towns and villages where He was definitely not welcome.
In verses 57- 58 it says, “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Doesn’t that strike you as a rather curious response to someone who had just said they would follow you anywhere? No doubt the man pledged his willingness to follow Jesus in all sincerity. He had likely heard Him preach and seen Him perform amazing signs and wonders during His journey through Samaria. But, what the man probably didn’t know was that at moment Jesus was basically homeless. He had no permanent home, and no visible means of income. He was even turned away from a Samaritan town when he tried to arrange lodging for the night, which of course, didn’t sit well with the disciples, James and John, who wanted to bring down divine fire to wipe the town off the face of the map. But, Jesus hadn’t come to judge the world. He had come to save it, so He simply moved on without any definite place to stay for the night.
By replying to the man that, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”, Jesus was making an important point. He was asking if you could handle uncertainty. Can you handle not knowing how God is going to provide for your most urgent needs, and just trust Him to do so? It is a question that Jesus wanted his disciples, and us, to wrestle with. He knew that there are going to be times when we don’t know where our provision is going to come from. Circumstances will look precarious. Plans are going to fall through. People are going to disappoint us.
If these things happened to Jesus, we should not be surprised when they happen to us, too, and we are not to become angry or anxious when they do. Jesus doesn’t want us to be governed by fear at such times. He wants us to be governed by our faith in God, because any uncertainty surrounding our lives, especially now, is only an apparent uncertainty. We can be sure that our future, our provision and our ultimate triumph are all certain to God. He has all the knowledge, power, and desire to turn every circumstance for the good of those who love Him and are called by Him for His purposes (Romans 8:28).
These uncertain seasons can be some of the most powerful God-moments we will ever experience. They often can be times when God demonstrates His mercy and goodness towards us in amazing and unexpected ways. God can use these times to work in the lives of those who don’t know Him, and bring nonbelievers to Himself. If the church works together under His divine guidance, this can be a time of real spiritual growth for the Kingdom, for our parish and for us as individual Children of God.
I’d like to close by remembering God’s promises to us from Isaiah 41:10. “I am with you. I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.”
Father God, as we traverse this new reality of Covid-19 and all its implications for our lives, we pray that we might be guided by your Holy Spirit to hold on to the certainty that you are in control, that you love your children and will work for the good of those that love you. Help us to not fear what may come but be steadfast in our faith that you will hold us up by your mighty right hand. In the Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.