Ruth Offers Wisdom in Handling Unknowns

The year of unknowns would be an accurate tagline for 2020. Which of us hasn’t experienced something completely unexpected this year? Today’s guest post by writer and teacher Marlene Houk offers biblical wisdom for handling the unknowns in our lives. I trust this post will be an encouragement to you!

Post by Marlene Houk

Lysa TerKeurst relates to unknowns in her book1, “When we need to know something, as a Christian, it makes us turn to God. We are willing to follow God even though we don’t know what we’re doing” (Terkeurst, 2018).

Does the unknown affect us? Building that first house? Learning the intricacies of a new job? Caring for our first baby: that tiny human, helpless and dependent upon our knowledge and wisdom?

My husband and I experienced significant confusion when we brought our daughter home. She seemed quite delicate and dainty, but what was coming out of her wasn’t! After seven times, while my husband paced frantically, he suggested we take her back to the hospital! Even after years of helping my mother keep babies in our home, I was confused myself. After we calmed down and realized a baby’s diet may cause her to assimilate differently and newborns needed to get their systems working, we heaved sighs of relief. But those emotions ran high because we didn’t know what to do.

Harnessing our emotions

After reading the book of Ruth, I realized that unknowns fill her story. Not knowing creates within us emotions ranging from eagerness to fear and from rapid heartbeat to goosebumps. Unawareness creates devastating results as in the sinking of the Titanic.

But, as Christians, when we realize that God knows our unknowns, we don’t need to fret about them. We do need to research, collect information, and make decisions. But, many times unknowns still exist. If we train ourselves, they can encourage us to trust the God who knows. We can then make our decisions—but leave the outcome to Him. Knowing that God is already in the future, waiting for us, clears the fog of panic and empowers us to focus.

As Christians, when we realize that God knows our unknowns, we don’t need to fret about them. ~ Marlene Houk on @khogrefeparnell

The best emotion to come from unknowns could be amazement and wonder when God shows us spiritual truth. Imagine what Ruth felt as she realized that God had indeed taken care of her and Naomi by preparing Boaz for them. Experiencing the truth of God’s care birthed wonder in her heart at the generosity of her newly found Redeemer.

Coping with uncertainty

Ruth’s unknowns show us how to cope with our uncertainties. Looking at Ruth’s story in a generic way reveals that her unknowns are very similar to ours today. The following list contains a few of the unknowns in her narrative.

1. She didn’t know about her direction in life.

2. She didn’t know how to walk with a friend through grief.

3. She didn’t know how to find a husband.

4. She didn’t know who to trust. She possibly knew her future husband for less than three months.

How do we handle the feelings that arise from unknowns in our lives? Does your heart sink at the array of many choices? Sometime being healthy eludes us and causes frustration and fear. Conversely, you may be eager to attack your lack of knowledge. Many might shout, Google! I agree because I research as quickly as an eyelash can blink. Or, perhaps, an unknown requires us to consult an expert such as a specialist, repairman, or doctor. Our struggles may demand articulating them to a professional such as a counselor or psychiatrist to help us separate our emotions from our identity. 

As Christians, our confusion pushes us to follow the Truth, nudges us to go and work in God’s fields, and causes us to look to Jesus who pierces our concerns with clarity.

Dealing with unknowns

How is Ruth showing us methods for dealing with our unknowns?

1. Follow the truth that you do know: For example, Boaz followed the Mosaic law that he knew (Ruth 3:11-12). We know that Christ fulfilled the law and that John 14:6 says that He is the truth. So, when we follow Him, we follow truth.

2. Go do the next right thing (Ruth 2:2). Ruth asked Naomi if she could go, and Naomi said go. Ruth went, even though she didn’t know where to connect with her kinsman redeemer. Her story overflows with Ruth going to the fields to provide for her mother-in-law.

3. THINK about the way God works in your life (Ruth 2:12). Realize truths from what God has already done. Ruth, at some point, learned that Boaz’s mother was a prostitute, rescued by Hebrew spies. They saved Rahab and her family, and she became Boaz’s mother (Matthew 1:5). Ruth could reason from this that God was an inclusive God, and he would find a way for her to fit in too.

Now, a few decades later, we demonstrate more relaxation in our role as mom and dad. We followed parenting truths gleaned from years of advice. My husband and I activated this wisdom in the daily care of our children. And we acquired priceless truths from this journey. We learned, like Ruth, that our unknowns lead us to God and His ways for dealing with them. Ruth’s plan for managing unknowns (follow, go, think) are ready for you to glean from the Master’s hands. 

~ Marlene

Ruth offers wisdom in handling unknowns by Marlene Houk on @khogrefeparnell

1Reference: TerKeurst, Lysa. It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way. Thomas Nelson, 2018.

About the Author

Marlene Houk opens doors of truth through her passion to bring alive the stories of women in the Bible. She reveals patterns in their stories that lead to biblical thinking, empowering emotional healing. Determined to find and apply truth, she connects the Bible’s wisdom to everyday living through thought-provoking questions that help others to embrace wholeness and freedom. Leading women’s Bible studies for ten years has increased her passion to share profound and life-changing truths with others. She and Sid, her husband of 38 years, have two adult children and two grandchildren. After work, you might catch a glimpse of her at the lake, watching the sun on the water.

About Hidden in a List

Do you have a plan when life kicks you to the curb in its daily grind and when disaster strikes? Imagine relying on simple, doable, Scripture-based steps to realign your emotions with God’s Word. In this short read, called Hidden In a List: secrets from Bible women, you can:

  • Unlock proven secrets to control reactions and instead act from a God-given perspective.
  • Triumph in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as he overcomes fears and failures.
  • Delight for a lifetime in using these secrets and sharing them with others.
  • Conquer insecurities by following the women of the Bible.
  • Boldly increase your faith and hope as a daily part of life.

Available on Amazon.

Uncertain Future, Certain God

I used to have the bad habit of flipping to the last pages of a book to find out what happened. Maybe you don’t have that problem, but have you ever wanted to know something that’s out of reach? Right now, I think we’re all wondering when life might get back to normal. Perhaps you’re wondering if you’ll be able to attend college in the fall or if working from home is now a permanent situation.

At some point, most of us have wanted to know the end without dealing with the drama in between. In real life, we often don’t understand why we have to wait so long for answers or why our prayers hit the ceiling.

I have good and bad news. The good news is that God never designed for us to know what tomorrow holds. In fact, not knowing deepens our dependence on the Lord and strengthens our faith in Him. The downside, from our perspective, is that there are some things we just can’t know right now. When we try to get what we want on our timeline, we create problems for ourselves and others. Perhaps we can spare ourselves some heartache by learning from others’ mistakes.

Choose to Wait instead of Rush.

The fall of mankind hinged on knowledge that God asked us to entrust to Him. God’s instructions to Adam and Eve were simple: They could eat of any tree except “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:17 NKJV).

The serpent capitalized on our innate desire for knowledge when he tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5 NKJV).

Pause for a second. What if Adam and Eve had been content not to know? There would be no broken world. We would still be living in paradise!

The serpent used the urgent temptation to know back then, and he still uses it today. Urgency is not an attribute Scripture applauds. Instead, the Bible frequently repeats the command to “wait” on God and records the blessings associated with it. Consider Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:9, and Isaiah 40:31 for starters.

Yet the opposite of waiting is what Satan wants us to do. He wants us to rush ahead for immediate gratification or pleasure, because he knows that regret will hurt our relationship with God. We can spare ourselves much pain if we rest on God’s timing.

Let God’s Sufficiency be our Security.

Regardless of our life stage, we all face situations where God asks us to wait. For example, my husband and I recently bought a new home and are in the process of renovating it. Newsflash: Renovations do not happen overnight. We have made so much progress, but sometimes, it’s easy to become impatient. Yet much like house renovations, we ourselves are works in progress. God’s renovating work in our circumstances and spiritual lives keeps us going back to His throne of grace, asking for guidance and grace.

God’s renovating work in our circumstances and spiritual lives keeps us going back to His throne of grace, asking for guidance and grace. @kjhogrefe

And that’s a good thing. If we had all the answers, we could fall toward the sin of self-sufficiency. If we were in charge, why would we need God?

King David fell into this trap when he commanded a census (2 Samuel 24:2). Even Joab, his general, cautioned him against this decision. “And Joab said to the king, ‘Now may the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times more than there are, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king desire this thing?’” (2 Samuel 24:3 NKJV)

However, David disregarded the warning. Because he demanded to know the size of his kingdom, God stripped him of the very security his soul craved with a plague that decimated the people. God bluntly reminded David that his sufficiency and security come from Him alone, not from the scope of his realm.

Joab’s question to David is one we should ask when we find ourselves insisting on answers. Why do we desire to know? If we can honestly say the reason will strengthen our faith or another person’s, then we can prayerfully proceed. However, if the root cause has to do with pride or securing selfish interests, we need to stop and reevaluate.

Embrace Knowing God, not Knowing the Future.

There’s an old hymn that says, “Farther along, we’ll know all about it. Farther along, we’ll understand why.”

I think the hymn writer had good intentions and wanted to encourage people that it’s okay not to know everything right now. However, whether we’ll understand one day is not something Scripture guarantees. Maybe God will or won’t take the time to gently reveal His plan.

Ultimately, knowing the details won’t matter. What will matter is that He remains the God who loves us lavishly, unfathomably, and infinitely. Knowing God is enough. We can rest assured that even though we don’t know what’s going to happen, God can more than supply any need.

We can rest assured that even though we don’t know what’s going to happen, God can more than supply any need. @kjhogrefe

Dear Father, please forgive me for trying to control my circumstances and wanting to rush ahead of your timing. I accept that even when I don’t understand how You are working, I can trust Your plan. Please use times of uncertainty in my life to bring me closer to You and to give me a greater awareness of Your presence. Amen.

~ Kristen

2 Upsides of Uncertainty

I hate suspense, which is ironic since I write young adult novels packed with conflict. Relegating uncertainty to fiction seems safe, because I (as author) am in control. Uncertainty in real life, I don’t always handle so well. Please tell me I’m not alone here.

Uncertainty comes in all forms, including that four-letter-word wait. Maybe you’re waiting to hear back on an interview. Any day, you could get the phone call that the job is yours—or that the hiring manager chose someone else. Or perhaps you had a medical test last week and still haven’t received the results.

At other times, uncertainty comes when we’re facing a decision, and we can’t tell up from down or good from better. It could be choosing a college, deciding to move forward with a relationship, or wondering whether to rent, buy, or room.

The uncertainties of life are endless. Since they’re not going away, let’s learn to focus on the positives they present.

Click here to read the full post on DailyPS.com.

~ Kristen

Tweetable

2 Upsides of Uncertainty – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Cone of Uncertainty and Giving Up Control

Last week, I had a hard time focusing, and this week started much the same. If you live in Florida, you may have shared the same problem.

When I stared at Hurricane Irma’s cone of uncertainty, I wondered how the storm’s path might impact me. Not having owned my home for even a year, I found myself wanting to hold tightly onto what I had little control to protect.

Though I’m grateful the storm didn’t damage my home, the experience made me realize I need to hold more loosely, not only to the things of this life, but also to choices and circumstances whose results I can’t control.

Because at the end of the day, control can be a struggle for many of us.

A good friend of mine kindly reminded me of my problem. She pointed out that I like to plan and prepare, and when I can’t, I tend to stress.

However, life presents many scenarios that blast at our insecurities. Maybe we’re faced with a choice, and we don’t know if it’s the right one or not. Maybe we don’t know which job to accept or which decision will be best for our family.

Recently, I read Lysa TerKeurst’s The Best Yes. It’s an amazing book on priorities, the power of the “small no,” and how to save your “best yes” for the calling God’s given you. If you’re a young adult or adult wanting guidance in decision-making, I’d encourage you to add it to your reading list.

TerKeurst covers all the bases of praying, exploring our options, and talking to wise mentors and family when making choices. However, there comes a point when we can’t let “analysis paralysis” keep us from moving forward.

Here’s what she says about taking that next step:

I don’t think we should fear stepping out of God’s will. But if you desire to please God with the decision you make and afterward it proves to be a mistake, it’s an error not an end.

An error, not an end. I love that.

We can’t control storms, nor can we control the outcomes of all the choices we make. But we can trust that if we suffer wind damage or disappointment, neither is an end in itself. By God’s grace, we rebuild and move on.

Praying for all those affected by Hurricane Irma.

~ Kristen

Tweetable

Cone of Uncertainty and Giving Up Control – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)