Editors Note: This article is written by BCC Counselor, Colleen Ryan as part of our series on Pursuing Peace. In this series, our counselors are unpacking how to find peace in all areas of your life.
When the Neurologist said “Alzheimer’s” it took my breath away. Wait, what? It wasn’t the diagnosis I was prepared for. My sweet, compassionate, and caring mom was in her 80’s and had lived a long, full life. As her primary caregiver, I enjoyed having her in my home.
But the reality of her life, and mine, had just changed. Yes, my responsibilities had increased over the years as she became more limited in her ability. Yet, she was still my sweet momma, and a new reality had just been given a name: Alzheimer’s.
As I contemplated her future and mine, the uncertainty of it all became very certain. Although we were embarking on uncharted waters, I was certain of this: a steady decline in her physical ability and mental capabilities was in our future. A decline never to rebound. A pending outcome defined by the disease.
Can you relate? Maybe not specifically to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but maybe another dreaded diagnosis: cancer, ALS, MS. Maybe an unexpected job loss, or the premature death of a loved one. A fairly “certain” future has just turned “uncertain” and we’re left to wonder: How do I pursue peace with an uncertain future?
In times like these, I always like to look at examples from scripture for help and hope. I think of Abraham who, according to Hebrews 11:8, was “called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
Did you get that? Can you imagine telling your family that it’s time to pack up and move and not know where you’re moving to? I doubt that would go over well. Yet, that was exactly Abraham’s situation. So what did he do? He trusted so greatly in his sovereign Lord that he “obeyed and went”. He started moving, trusting that God would provide the additional direction that was needed. And God did.
When the future is uncertain, it’s so easy for us to become consumed with worry, anxiety, or fear. Those three emotions always pertain to something that MIGHT happen in the future. Something we WISH we could control, but we can’t. But since we can’t control those events, we can easily become consumed with fear. And since fear is looking at something that MIGHT happen in the future, our brain can’t fix or solve it because it hasn’t happened yet. So our imaginations feed our fears. Can you relate?
Yet, Abraham wasn’t consumed with fear; worry and anxiety didn’t envelope him because his heart was consumed with trust, the antidote to fear.
In Matthew 8:23-27 disciples are on a boating trip with Jesus, and Jesus decides to catch up on some sleep. Then suddenly a furious storm comes upon the lake and Mark’s account says that the disciples thought they were going to die. Yep, it would be easy for fear to grip their hearts, and it did. Peace was gone. An enjoyable outing on the lake was gone. Fear ruled, and their future was uncertain.
Fortunately, they did the right thing by waking Jesus up, but interestingly enough, Jesus didn’t immediately calm the storm. He asked them a question instead: “Why are you so afraid?” Tony Evans, a pastor from Dallas, says this: “So Christ’s question to the disciples wasn’t so much ‘Why are you afraid of this storm?’ but ‘Why are you afraid when you have me in the boat with you?’”
So how do we pursue peace amidst an uncertain future?
I’m glad you asked. Here are some principles:
- Chose to trust that your Savior is bigger than your storm (He is.)
- Choose to trust that God is Sovereign and has a plan (He does.)
- Choose to trust God rather than embrace fear (He’s present.)
- Choose to take your thoughts/imagination captive (2 Cor. 10:5b) and replace the fearful speculation with truth (His truth.)
- Choose to remind yourself of God’s faithfulness in the past (He has been and will be.)
As mom’s disease continued to progress, both of us were intentional about pursuing God, being reminded of His promises, and trusting His plan for her life. It wasn’t an easy journey, but as a result, our hearts were consumed with peace, not fear.