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Christian Counseling - Tolerance Of The Unknown

There are many things in this world we don't know and many we will never know. Is that thought discomforting to you? It is for most people who look for a sense of security that comes from knowing. This knowing provides structure or a way to understand ourselves, others, God and the world. The degree of structure desired varies with individual makeup and seriously impacts many life choices, such as: avoiding spontaneity, over thinking safety, marital choice, parenting and career decisions.

To some point, the unknown is uncomfortable to everyone. We don't like bad surprises, some don't like any surprises at all. If life could be predictable, we would rest easier. We would prepare ourselves for the droughts of life and avoid the evil in the world. However, our lives are very limitedly predictable. A person's great intolerance of the unknown suggests an underlying, strong feeling of insecurity and anxiety.

To manage those uncomfortable feelings people have developed many coping mechanisms. One of them is focusing on a particular image of God or creating a theology which eases the discomfort. For example, you have likely heard a theology that goes something like this: "God is absolutely sovereign over every detail of life. Nothing happens in this world without His stamp of approval (directly or indirectly)." This belief is an attempt to make life more predictable and acceptable, eliminate disturbing surprises, and provide security in knowing that only God-directed events can occur in this world. This helps people cope with their intolerance of the unknown. Do you see anything wrong with this theological (man made) belief? If you don't and you are comforted by this belief, you may not want to read on.

The negative consequences of this belief are numerous. What do you think happens when a severe tragedy occurs in Christians' lives who completely rest in that belief? Most often they deny their emotions, try to convince themselves the entire situation is God's will and intended for good. They cut off their human feelings of hurt, anger and shock. Over time, these unattended troubling feelings acts like a fox that ruins the vineyard of their good relationship (Song of Songs 2:15) with God through fear, doubt, distrust, insecurity and diminished feelings of connection with Him.

Not everything that happens in life is of God. Sin is never his intention, nor are the evil consequences that follow. But they happen in this world more than 6 billion times a day. What He promises is that He will work out any bad circumstance of life for our good when we turn to and invite Him to participate in our healing (Romans 8:28 ). Further, if every detail of life's happenings were completely directed by God, He wouldn't say, "Do not grieve (in the Greek, cause pain to) the Holy Spirit of God" (Ephesians 4:30). If He has absolute control over everything, why would God do this to Himself?

Our faith should not rest in false theologies that distort life in order to comfort us or manage our troubled feelings. We need to be strong enough to tolerate the unknown and unpredictable, which is the way of human life. Our faith should rest in the truth that He sees, He knows and He is at work for our good in all circumstances, even those that are foul and unintended.

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Anonymous wrote:
Thank you for speaking to a false belief that so many people carry with them. I have always seen it as a destructive belief. I love Romans 8:28 - It is clear and true.

06/12/2010 @ 2:13 PM

2. Anonymous wrote:
I like this post. This belief is hard to wrap my head around...but somehow, it's more comforting to believe that God brings good out of evil caused by sin, then that He causes it to happen to those He loves. It's something I've struggled with. I like this: "What He promises is that He will work out any bad circumstance of life for our good when we turn to and invite Him to participate in our healing." I'm trying to learn it in my own life.

05/29/2010 @ 5:23 AM

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