What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
I’m not sure what the Lord is doing in this season. Ignorance of the Lord’s ways isn’t abnormal; his ways and thoughts are higher than our own (Isaiah 55:8-9). We know that God will accomplish his purposes and will do what is right even if we don’t know specifically how that will look. This truth holds great comfort for finite souls.
Lately, however, I’ve been feeling more confused than comforted, more fearful than full of faith. Dry times, extended periods of struggle, and uncertainty combine to produce a season that will ultimately result, I pray, in deeper faith. In the moment, however, I mostly feel doubt and worry. And as anxiety grows, so too grows the pressure to move, to do something to settle my soul, to search for peace and rest. I feel tension and timidity at once within me, afraid to stand still and afraid to move.
In this season of confusion, however, I’m trying to respond with wisdom instead of reacting out of fear. To do this, I’m trying to practice three habits more intentionally.
1. Fall back on Proverbs 3:5-6.
These words are familiar, but the familiarity doesn’t diminish the force of the message.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.Proverbs 3:5-6
Confusion and fear reveal the limits of my understanding, testing the strength of my commitment. Do I trust the LORD with all my heart? If so, then I can rest in the truth that my ignorance of the way ahead doesn’t negate his trustworthiness. Do I acknowledge him in all my ways? If so, then I can trust him with this situation, this season, this emotion. Do I believe he will make straight my paths? If so, then I can follow him in faith even if he hasn’t yet revealed the next step.
2. Wait for the LORD.
One of my favorite verses comes from Psalm 27.
Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!Psalm 27:14
The call here is simple yet profound. To wait for the LORD is to embrace ignorance and inability, to exercise humility, and to trust in God’s sovereignty. The LORD, whose ways, thoughts, and timing are high above ours, remains ever faithful. From the days of Abraham through the time of the Christ and beyond, God has never failed his people, never left a son or a daughter unattended, never lost even one of his own. As stressful seasons tempt me to impatience, I remember David’s words and call my soul to wait for and to rest in the One who has not failed and shall not fail to accomplish his purposes and to keep his promises.
3. Focus on what I know.
In a recent Bible study, I was reminded of the importance of priorities. As our group considered how priorities should look in our lives, Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount came to mind.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.Matthew 6:33
Jesus’s words here highlight two areas of primary focus: kingdom and character. We worry about many things, but, as Jesus reminds us, the Father knows our needs. We can trust him to provide for us, and his provision frees us to prioritize his kingdom and righteousness. While I may be confused on many fronts, ignorant of God’s ways and thoughts and timing in this season, I know two things well: I’m called to seek his kingdom and his righteousness, and I’m called to trust him with the rest. So I can serve my church, pursue my studies, and do today’s work for his glory. And I can study the Bible, spend time in prayer, and practice spiritual disciplines.
I don’t enjoy confusion. I desire more understanding than I presently possess. But I can have faith in God no matter my circumstances, and I can practice these habits even in the face of fear and anxiety. The Lord is good, the Lord is faithful, and the Lord loves me, even when I can’t see or feel him. Because of these truths, no matter the season, I can rest and hope in him.