The Key of Gratitude, Part 4: Releasing Certainty
Gratitude calms our hearts. Gratitude says “I have enough and I am at rest.” When we are rest, we are no longer striving … we are quiet in soul … we are able to see all that is around us without demand.
When gratitude seems inaccessible, it is usually because we are on the hunt for more … more than we presently have. As we’ve explored in the previous days, this can show up in comparisons. It is usually a part of complaint. And, it can be present in the desire for certainty. We want to know what is going on. We want to know what is going to happen.
We don’t like doubt or confusion. And … yet, lack of certainty is part of the human condition. While we might not like uncertainty, it is tied to the way God made us in the beginning. In the Garden of Eden, God told the first humans that they had freedom. They could eat the fruit from any tree … except the one called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:16-17) The enemy of God (Genesis 3) approached and suggested that God was holding out on them. He was keeping something from them. They ate, and so started humankind’s quest to grab certainty … to know … to be in control.
The alternative is trust. We were made to live in a trusting relationship with God. The core of our design consists of loving God and saying to Him, “not my will, but Thy will be done.” (Luke 22) Our will is our sense of control and determination. To exercise our will requires having a measure of certainty and knowledge in order to effectively operate in the world. God’s heart for us is that we live in a surrendered kind of way. His desire for us is to release our will and come under His will … His heart, His love, His care.
As we are able to say “not my will, but Thy will be done,” the doubts and uncertainties do not necessarily evaporate but they do not steer the vehicle any longer. Instead, there is a happy surrender, a gratefulness that we can be at rest. Words like surrender can possess a negative connotation, but for those who have surrendered there is a peacefulness that passes all understanding. The striving, the searching, the noise dissipates.
In Matthew 11, Jesus invites us to come to Him, to follow Him and His ways … “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Trying to be certain about everything is not only impossible, it is tiring. There is a way of life and also many ways of religious living that are focused on certainty, but Jesus invites us to trust Him … to follow Him … to watch how He does it. How does He do it? Trust. Surrender. It was Jesus who uttered the words “not my will, by Thy will be done.” It was Jesus who said, “the Son can do nothing of His own accord but only what He sees the Father doing.” What is an “accord?” One’s accord is their will, their sense of what to do, their certainty.
And, the result? A glad surrender … a satisfied, restful trust. It is saying, “I’m not in charge. I don’t know it all and I can rest in my finitude, my limits, my creatureliness.” This does not mean we don’t study or search for wisdom but it means that certainty isn’t my goal. Trust and surrender are the goal.
Do you struggle with a need for certainty? If so, welcome. You are in good company. However, there is more into which we are invited … a life of gratitude that remains after we release certainty as our ambition. And, that gratitude gives us eyes to see the glory of God and His goodness all around.
What will it look like for you to release certainty today? How will you trustfully embrace not knowing?