Confident Uncertainty

“…the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

There used to be a popular poster back “in the day” on which there was this picture of a cat hanging from a rope by one of his front paws, and the caption read, “ Hang in there baby!” The New Testament talks a lot about perseverance, endurance, and patience, but if you’ll study those words; you’ll find that they are not implying that we simply just “hang in there.” No, as followers of Jesus, we can endure the trials that come our way with an attitude of what I call Confident Uncertainty.

Sometimes we go through periods in our lives when we find ourselves faced with situations in which we just simply don’t know where to go, what to do, or how things will turn out. We encounter times of spiritual dryness, of trial, of sickness, or even life and death situations. During these times, all of our “Where do you see yourself in five years?” planning is completely blown out of the water. In extreme times of trial and adversity, you may not even see how you’ll make it five more years; much less tell someone where you think you’ll be! However, it is in such times of uncertainty that we can be confident because we trust in the Lord.

As we walk with God, as we get to know him, the intimacy we share with him produces trust. We began to learn that he is truly faithful. We begin to understand that his promise to never leave us or forsake us is true, even when we feel all alone in an ocean of uncertainty. We learn that he is the potter and that we are the clay, and that we can trust the potter’s hands. It is intimacy with Jesus which produces the trust that allows us to be confident in uncertain times. Our confidence is not in ourselves, our spirituality, or our ability to “shift the atmosphere,” rather, we are confident in our Lord because we know that in all things he is working for his glory and our ultimate good. When uncertainty threatens, when doubts and fear attack, we run to Jesus. As we sit at his feet, consumed by the beauty of his holiness, our strength is renewed, and we find stability in the fact that no matter what; we belong to him.

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced an extreme trial, and the outcome was uncertain. There they stood, right at the edge of the fiery furnace. I’m sure they could feel the heat. They didn’t know how the situation was going to turn out. Yet, they were able to face their circumstances with confident uncertainty because they trusted in the Lord. What a joy it will be to get to the place in life where we can say along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “I’m not real sure how all of this is going to turn out, but no matter what the outcome; I belong to the Lord.”

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The Aphek Affect

When you read the commentaries concerning I Samuel 27- 29, many will say that David had backslidden and was not seeking God as he should’ve during this period of his life. They point to his questionable ethics, to the fact that his seeking God is not mentioned, and to the fact that he had resorted to living among the Philistines (remember Goliath) as evidence of this evaluation. I recall the fact that God is not mentioned at all in the book of Esther (does that mean it shouldn’t be in the Bible) and how I Kings 15:5 says that David obeyed God completely, with the exception of the Bathsheba affair; and, I have to question their assertions. I am by know means a scholar, and honestly don’t have all the answers; but, I find it odd that these commentators will praise David for not killing Saul when he had the chance and then turn around and criticize him for trying to survive.

I have a friend and professor who, before he gives his opinion, loves to say, “This and 44 cents will buy you a stamp.” Well, with that in mind I’d like to make a few comments regarding the period in David’s life when he lived among the Philistines and point out some things I think we can learn from it.

Here’s the deal: David had been running from Saul who was determined to kill him. Although David had ample opportunities to kill Saul, remove the threat, and take the kingdom (Isn’t that what God had promised?); his conscience and trust in the Lord would not allow him to take matters in his own hands. David says to himself, “If I keep this up, one day Saul is gonna kill me for sure.” So, he seeks refuge among the Philistines, the great enemy of Israel.

David finds a benefactor in the person of Achish who gives him refuge and a city for he and his men to live in. David lives in the land of the Philistines for quite some time serving Achish as a personal body guard. Eventually the day came (and here’s where I want to focus) when the Philistines were going to fight against Saul and the Israelites. What was David going to do?

It appears that David is caught in the middle here. If he abandons Achish and the Philistines, the consequences will definitely not be good; but, if he joins them, and goes up against Saul, he will be fighting his own people. Not to mention what would happen if he ended up personally killing Saul in the battle. He would be hated and branded a traitor.

(We have an advantage over David because we have read I Samuel 28 and know that the night before this battle took place, Saul had consulted a medium ( one who consults the dead) and had received a message from Samuel informing him that both he and his son Jonathan would die the next day at the hands of the Philistines. David knows nothing of these events.)

So, there you have it. The battle stage is set. The Philistines and David are camped at Aphek, while Saul and the Israelites are by the spring in Jezreel. The Philistine armies are marching with David and his mercenaries bringing up the rear. Everything is coming to a proverbial head and David is caught right in the middle. He’s been “winging” it the past couple of years, pretending to be crazy at one point, living with the Philistines, trying to survive; but now, this is it. God is gonna have to move ’cause there is no way out.

Have you ever trusted the Lord right down to last moment? I mean at 12:00 am it’ll be over and at 11:59 pm you still didn’t know what you were going to do, you still have no answer from the Lord. You’ve been trusting God the best way you know how, trying to survive, rolling with the flow; but then BAM!! Maybe that’s how David felt here, at Aphek. Things sure didn’t look good for the guy who had been anointed king so long ago. He couldn’t run and he couldn’t fight. Keep in mind, he and his men are on their horses, they’re marching up to battle, he’s going to end up killing his own people and maybe even the king he had spared in the past. GOD, WHERE ARE YOU???

The Lord made a way; He used the Philistines themselves. See, the other Philistine lords didn’t trust David the way Achish did and they insisted that David not be allowed to fight in the battle. They feared he might turn against them when faced with the prospect of killing his own people. David was spared having to fight against Saul and the Israelites, and he didn’t have to lose face (or his head for that matter) with Achish. Saul would be killed in the ensuing battle and David would be king.

Sometimes, even though we are walking with the Lord, things happen. God may have planted something in our heart, spoken a word to us, and then things just seemed to fall apart. We find ourselves just trying to survive. Yes, we are trusting the Lord; but things have happened beyond our control and we are swept up in circumstances that seem impossible; and then, BAM!! We find ourselves at our own “Aphek”. We can’t run, we can’t fight,  and there seems to be no way that God’s promises can be fulfilled. GOD WHERE ARE YOU???

Jesus said, “I am the way.” You may have done nothing wrong, you may be trying your best, you may be trusting God the best way you know how, and still find yourself at “Aphek”; trapped with no way out. This is where Jesus whispers to you, “I am the way. Trust Me, I love you.” Perhaps He is using the “Aphek Affect” in your life to teach you that you can trust Him.

Let me ask you, “How did you learn you could trust those that you trust in your life?” You found yourself in various situations with these people and you learned that you could believe what they said. Through experience you learned they were trustworthy. As we follow Jesus, through the fire, over the mountains, in the valley, and right up to Aphek; we learn that we can trust Him, for not only will He make a way,  He Himself is the way.