Faith for When We Don’t Know What’s Next - Word&Way

Faith for When We Don’t Know What’s Next

I must acknowledge that this year has not turned out the way that I had hoped or prayed. Not much of anything in life is probably going as any of us had anticipated. And unfortunately, we do not have any idea when life will begin to look like we thought it would. The only thing we can be certain of for the near future is … uncertainty.

Terrell Carter

Terrell Carter

Psalm 16 is a passage that I have begun to find hope in as I continue to face all that currently casts shadows over every aspect of life. The writer began Psalm 16 by stating a laundry list of examples of how good their life had been due to God’s actions on their behalf. Because of these multiple examples of God’s faithfulness, they could trust that things would work out for them in the future.

But this psalm is not only about stating the good things God had already done for the writer. It also contained an assertion that the writer could trust that God would remain faithful to them even when their future looked uncertain. I get this idea from the writer’s affirmation, “I am your chosen one. You won’t leave me in the grave or let my body decay.”

In many ways, the idea of death and the afterlife was one of the most uncertain ideas that the Hebrew people faced. Their concept of death and the afterlife was not as fully formed as ours is in the 21st century. They did not have the concept of dying and going to heaven to be with God, as we do. Instead, they held to a not-fully formed concept that when a person died, their soul either ceased to exist or it went to Sheol (the Pit).

eternity now

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Sheol was believed to be a place of darkness where souls resided. No one knew how long souls resided there. It could be temporarily or for eternity. It could be the place where every soul went there or where only bad people’s souls went.

Despite this uncertainty about the afterlife, the writer was able to affirm that because God had been faithful in consistently protecting them in the past, they could trust that God would protect them even in unknown of death and the afterlife.

My prayer for all of us during this season of uncertainty is that we would remember the hope that we have in common with the writer of Psalm 16. Amid the uncertainty that we all face, I pray that we would remember that God has been faithful before, and because of that, we can trust that God will continue to be faithful to us, even though we do not know what’s next for our lives.

God has not left us. God will not leave us. God has provided good things for us. God will continue to provide good things for us.

These provisions are not based our action.s but on God’s faithful love that was exemplified in the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of our savior, Jesus.

I pray that we all will continue to hold on to the hope and peace that comes with claiming Jesus as our savior

Written by

Terrell Carter is vice president of community life and chief diversity officer at Greenville University in Greenville, Ill., community team leader for Churchnet, and pastor of Webster Groves Baptist Church in Webster Groves, Mo.