St. Peter’s Church                  Ardingly   West Sussex

Live for Christ, advance the Gospel



Reader’s Letter

Dear Friends,

Uncertainty has never been very popular, but now it’s public enemy number one.  Money markets don’t like it.  Businesses don’t like it.  Employees are nervous around it and most of us try to avoid it.  It makes us angry, too.  When we’re stuck in an airport and the departure boards read ‘delayed’, it’s not our holiday plans being frustrated that most irritates us, it’s the not knowing that makes our blood boil:  ‘no-one is telling us anything’, we complain, ‘we don’t know what is happening’.  Uncertainty makes us feel insecure.  You never know where you are with uncertainty, do you?

His twin brother, on the other hand, is the complete opposite.  Certainty people speak well of.  They like him, he’s popular and, despite being elusive at times, people cling to him when  they find him.  They know where they stand with certainty; he’s reliable, predictable.  He gives us that sense that somehow we are in control; that we can look ahead and make plans.  He’s always been popular in the world of economics and now he’s the government’s best friend.  Yes, there’s no doubt we find certainty far more attractive than uncertainty.

But are we being fooled?  Certainty can be a slippery customer.  Not only is he rarely around when you want him, but when he is, he is fickle.  He can turn on you in a moment and leave you devastated.  Many went hand-in-hand with certainty to the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester or for a night out in Borough Market or stayed at home in Grenfell Tower.  But he shape-shifted and took on an altogether nastier persona.  And nowhere has certainty’s deceit been more evident than in the General Election result.

Certainty is a false friend.  He can offer us a comfort zone, but we can be lured into complacency.  He can give us a framework for our plans, but we can easily be led to false assumptions.  Perhaps after all uncertainty has some positive characteristics:  he shakes us out of complacency and false assumptions, keeps us on our toes, and makes us more thoughtful, aware and vigilant.  Uncertainty turns us away from our own cocoon of self-reliance, our own self-regulation and towards dependence upon God our creator.

Why can we rely on God?  The Bible tells us that ‘Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’  How can faith be sure and certain?  It’s who our faith is in that counts.  The psalmists describe God as their rock, refuge and strength, their shield and stronghold, faithful and true.  Amidst the uncertainties of life, the struggles and tragedies of human existence, they knew God is the only certainty.  We know this too because God has proved his love for us, even though we are sinners.  He gave Jesus to die for us –and raised him from the dead.  In an uncertain world, the Christian’s hope in Jesus does not disappoint.   It is not illusory; it is not fleeting.  It is certain.  It is certain because God is no false friend.  He keeps his promises.  His love will never give us up, however uncertain our circumstances.

Whether the holiday season brings you motorway madness or flight delays, upset tummies or ICS (Irritable Child Syndrome), it also affords time for rest, refreshment and new experiences; for reading, reflection and drawing closer to God.  And if you find yourself threatened by waves of uncertainty, get the surfboard out!  God wants only the best for you –and that’s certain!

Happy holidays and every blessing,

John. Witherington