When I don’t Know What To Do
The temptation is to want a crystal ball. That’s what it can often feel like when we are faced with a decision or circumstance where we don’t know what to do. Such times confront us with our humanness, our limitations. We long to be able to see into the future, to know what outcome our various choices might have for us. It is why people are so tempted to seek out horoscopes and psychics—anything to give them the edge in making the “right” decision, or at least the one with the least pain in the end.
The anxiety we feel when things are uncertain seems to be in direct proportion to the amount of control we have in any given situation. Think about the times when you’ve had a feeling your job was in jeopardy, or you’ve sat at the bedside of a critically ill child. We can feel so helpless because everything is outside our ability to control, and the temptation is to grow anxious. Some of us cope by taking control of other things (like cleaning house, or focusing on work, exercise or a hobby) in order to feel like we have some say on some aspect of our lives.
How about you? What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Is your first response to lift your hands and call on the Lord, or call a friend for advice? Now hear me clearly, I’m not dissing call a friend, I’m challenging us on the order of what we do. The Bible actually encourages us to bring things to others, especially wise counselors, and people who can pray for us. But our first resort should be, as the anthem indicates, to call upon the Lord. Then we can ask others to pray for us, and perhaps, after that, to ask for their advice.
Others can see things from their perspective that we might miss, since we are so close to the situation, but only God himself can see things clearly. Come to Him first and say, “Father, show me what You would have me do. Speak from Your word. Move through Your Spirit. Open doors and close doors as my guide to action. Give me wise and godly counselors, who are tuned in to You, to confirm Your leading. Keep my eyes on You, and make me very sensitive to Your voice.”
Recently, I had a conversation with someone who had been challenged to take a mission trip to a place he had never felt called to go. He told me his heart had been filled with dread and a hundred reasons why he should not go, but in his spirit he sensed that, yes, God wanted him to go. Since he made the decision to follow the Spirit’s lead, God has sent all sorts of voices of encouragement, which has been giving him peace in facing those fears.
Another person I’ve spoken with recently is facing an upheaval at work. There is huge turnover, and she is never certain where she stands, or if her job could end before the close of the day. She doesn’t know whether to seek work elsewhere, or ride it out where she is. It’s extremely stressful, and she has no peace with the idea of staying or going. She’s still in the process of praying for that guidance, and seeking the Lord for His peace in a time of great uncertainty.
That’s how it often is when we don’t know what to do. Sometimes we don’t see how God was leading or orchestrating the circumstances until we get on the other side of our trial. We may feel we linger in that state for an unbearable length of time. But then we look back in amazement of how God led us through—almost like we were blind then, but now we can see clearly His faithfulness, kindness, love and goodness to us all along.
And that is really the secret of dealing with such times. When we don’t know what to do, we press in to what we know about Him. Yes, we pray for guidance, but it is most helpful if we go into His presence with hands raised in praise for who we know Him to be. Speak those names of His that cement the truth of His character: Faithful and True, Almighty God, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Healer, Provider… It will give us confidence to ask for guidance with faith, to wait (sometimes for quite a while) until He answers, and to act in obedience to what He reveals, even if that answer is a bit scary. When we don’t know what to do, we can learn to rest peacefully in the One who has it all in His hands.
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries