What is Certain
Words by Théa Rosenburg
Not long ago, we could walk out our front door and drive anywhere, within reason, that we wanted to go. But over the last few weeks, the places we seemed to be continually driving to and from politely requested, then firmly insisted, that we stay home. My husband’s office; our daughters’ school; our church; the library—all are closed in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Up and down our street, the homes are full. Cars rarely leave driveways, and when they do, they inevitably return with groceries. Our lives change daily as the news changes—and so it is all over the world. Things we thought were stable have shifted beneath us, and it seems possible now to have everything—security, safety, loved ones, our lives—taken away.
During these days at home, waiting, I bake aggressively. The smell of rising bread gives us a good change to look forward to, even as it gives us a measure of comfort and normalcy. We built a blanket fort that spread from our living room to our kitchen, and then a satellite fort upstairs that involved a full-size tent. Making a smaller home within our home seemed to help: it gave us somewhere to enter and exit, places to visit and then leave.
But in the evening, as all four daughters make their way to bed and the day’s work slows, I cannot hide from this thought: So little is certain. I do not know what tomorrow will bring. Even the world outside is shuttered to me then, and our darkened windows reflect back only these familiar rooms.
That thought has always been true: I have never known what the next day will bring, but I have been able to make educated guesses and found my plans upon them.
So little has ever been certain, and yet, as I brush crumbs from the table and sweep the dining room floor, readying the room for the morning, I know that some things are certain. Some things always have been and always will be. Whatever the news when I wake up tomorrow, these truths will remain firm and unchangeable:
God is Our Help
Psalm 33:20–21 reads, “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his name.” I am tempted to hold my breath and wait, right now, for this all to be over—for danger to recede, for the economy to stabilize, for life to feel familiar again. But we need a greater help than a return to normalcy could offer: we need One who can mend our broken world, who is sovereign over global chaos and microscopic viruses, who walks with us through sorrow and grief. The Lord is the one we can wait on with full trust and expectancy. He alone is our helper and our protector.
God is Near
Psalm 34:18 reads, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” We have all, in some way, already lost something to this pandemic. And as the weeks go on, I suspect that we will continue to suffer losses—loved ones, jobs, security, safety, peace. But God is near to us in our grief; he upholds us when we cry out to him (Ps. 34:17). We may be isolated in our own homes, each suffering our own particular loss, but we are not alone, for “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).
God is a Hiding Place
Psalm 32:7 reads, “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.” Even in the midst of trouble, God is a place of safety. He may not withhold trouble from us, for it is often through the friction of trial that we learn to know and rely upon him. But God is a shelter, a “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). We meet the trouble, whatever form it takes, encompassed by and hidden in him.
God is Our Light and Our Salvation
Psalm 27:1 reads, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” The Lord is our light—a light that guides as well as illuminates—and the One who orchestrates salvation for those who believe in Jesus. Though we may lose our savings, though our bodies may fail, our story does not end in defeat. Let us say, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation” (Ps. 68:19).
God is Our Father
Psalm 103:13–14 reads, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” God is our loving Father. He knows us and cares for us. And he is compassionate toward us: he took on a human body and suffered the effects of sickness and sin. We are not in the hands of a vengeful god or an indifferent one, but in the care of a loving, merciful Father who knows our deepest needs. And this is a gift: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).
What is Certain
There is a bit of writing wisdom that says that, in order to grow, a character in a story must eventually face their greatest fear—the loss of identity, or physical strength, or the loss of a loved one. If the best stories draw on God’s story, the one we are living in now, then perhaps we are seeing the source of that wisdom at work. God knows the fears that keep us from trusting in him, and He, like a good parent, loves us enough to help us face them—to see that we truly need him, only him.
Though the ending of this story is sure (Rev. 22:20–21), we are living through one of the scarier chapters—we do not know what will happen next. But in the midst of that uncertainty, this is certain: our Father has promised us that we will not live through it alone.
And so, what can we do but wait and see what the Lord brings us tomorrow? But let us not wait idly or fearfully. Let us build blanket forts and bake pies and plant snap peas. Let us sing aloud in the yard for our neighbors to hear, and let us remember what is certain. Let us say with confidence:
“Wait for the Lord;
Be strong, and let your heart take courage;
Wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)