Faith in Uncertainty

It's so important to place our trust in God during uncertain times.

George Wright
Mar 22, 2020    36m
In this sermon Pastor George Wright talks about the fear and uncertainty that has been brought on by the COVID-19 virus. He explains that in this time of worry we can find comfort by putting our trust in God, who has always been faithful. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Well Shandon welcome to the new normal here, as we are live streaming exclusively our services. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be able to gather together. And it really is hard to fathom, isn't it, all that has changed in the last 10 days. And to recognize that this is a new normal, and we are grateful to have this chance to share with you. And I do want you to know right up front that I've been praying for you, praying for your families, and praying for this opportunity that God has given us that really is unprecedented, as we get to lean into him in ways that perhaps we never have before.

George Wright: 00:41 And I realize you may be joining us as someone who is new to Shandon, or perhaps you've never even been a part of something that we have done as a church, and now have the chance to join us online and we want to welcome you. We're so grateful that you are here with us, and we hope and pray that you are encouraged as we turn our attention now to the Word of God. So thankful that we can look to the one who is our way maker, the one who is our authority, the one who is bringing peace in the midst of uncertainty. And so I want to encourage you, if you would, to grab a Bible and to turn to Daniel chapter 1 , we are going to be walking through a few verses here at the beginning of Daniel. And what we are stepping into in this portion of God's word, is a story of uncertainty, and a season of uncertainty, where the people of God are trying to understand how do we respond in this difficult, difficult situation.

George Wright: 01:41 So Daniel chapter 1 , we kind of jokingly said last week, I know it's different since we're not in the room together, but if you're willing and able to stand with me in your dining room or your den or your living room or your bedroom, wherever you are right now, I'd love for you to do so. Just that we would be reminded that the word of God is our authority, the foundation on which we stand as a people of God. And the word of God reveals to us what is right and good and true. So this is the word of the Lord, in Daniel chapter 1 verses 1 and 2. It says, "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god." This is the word of the Lord, as the people of God are facing a very uncertain time.

George Wright: 02:48 And I'd ask you to pray with me before we continue in our message, asking God to use this time to speak into our lives. Let's pray. Father God, as we come before you now and turn our attention to the preaching and the teaching of your word. It is my prayer that you would meet us in this moment, that you would have your way among us, that you would direct our thoughts to the things which are above. And that through the power of your word you would reveal to us what we need to hear, and what we need to see, as we face such uncertain times. Lord, please lift our spirits, lift our hearts, and lift our eyes to be reminded of the good news that you proclaim to us in our time of need. We look to you. It's in Jesus' name I pray. Amen. Amen.

George Wright: 03:46 Well, certainly it goes without saying that we are navigating a situation that presents a lot of questions that are yet to be answered. The circumstances that we are walking through right now in the pandemic of COVID-1 9 have caused many questions, big questions to be asked. That seemingly do not have an answer at all. How did this virus develop? How in the world did it spread so quickly? And how can we prevent it from this point moving forward? And when will a vaccine be available? How long will this last? What is the new normal for us walking through this season? Lots of questions, big questions, difficult questions. At the same time, for many people I know during this season of uncertainty, there are questions about God. God, why are you allowing this to happen? God, where are you in the midst of all this? God, why don't you stop this from getting worse?

George Wright: 05:05 As we step into Daniel chapter 1 , we see a situation that brings about a lot of questions. And here's the reality for so many, in a time of uncertainty. Our perspective of God's faithfulness is often directly connected to the circumstances of our life. Our perspective of God's faithfulness is often directly connected to the circumstances of our life. And so many people live with a mindset that says, okay, as long as life is good, then God is faithful. But as soon as life is spinning out of control, perhaps God has abandoned us. As long as things feel like they are in my hands, and as long as things feel like I am in control, God is faithful. But when I'm faced with uncertainty that reminds me I'm not in control, many people stop and they questioned God. Isn't it interesting to consider how often our view of God's faithfulness is really connected to the circumstances of our lives, and when we are jolted with the reality that we are not in control, it is easy for us to begin to question or possibly even conclude, if I'm not in control, then maybe God is not in control either.

George Wright: 06:48 And you may be joining us here today with questions about what God might be doing in the midst of all this. Maybe you're here today questioning the faithfulness of God. Or wondering. God, where are you in the midst of all this chaos, and in the midst of all this unknown? You may even be here this morning joining us for this service, questioning whether or not you can trust God at all. And if that is you, I want you to know I'm so glad that you are joining us for this message. In fact, I consider it a privilege that you would take some time to be with us for this message. And I want you to know you are in good company, as you joined many others online who also have questions, or concerns, or even doubts about God in the midst of all of this uncertainty that is swirling around us.

George Wright: 07:43 Now, I want you to hear me say right up front, my prayer for you is that you will see the faithfulness of God. In fact, I believe that he is pursuing you even now, and it is not an accident that you have logged on and joined us for this service. I believe that God wants you to know of his love, and he wants you to see his faithfulness even in circumstances that appear so uncertain.

George Wright: 08:14 That's what we find in Daniel chapter 1, and we go back to the beginning verse 1 where we started and we see this new normal that is developing for the kingdom of Judah. It says, "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it." Now, I need to just give you a little background here as to what is taking place at this point of the story in the history of Israel. The nation of Israel, at this point, has been split into two kingdoms. There is Israel to the North, and Judah to the South, and the kingdom of Judah is under the reign, as the scripture says, of a King name Jehoiakim. And under Jehoiakim reign, Judah has begun to wander away from God, and has become loyal to the Egyptian empire. And as a result, they are beginning to follow the gods, little g, of the Egyptian empire. And after multiple warnings through the prophets of God, God allows Judah, as we see in Daniel 1 to be conquered by the kingdom of Babylon under the reign and rule of King Nebuchadnezzar.

George Wright: 09:35 So we pick up the story, verse 2, it says, "The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, (little g) and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god (little g)." And then it says, "The king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family, and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans."

George Wright: 10:25 Now, these are some troubling verses in the scripture. For in verse 2, we see the statement God gave Judah to Babylon. God is allowing this to happen here in Daniel chapter 1. God has allowed his people to be captured by a ruthless King, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. And not only has God allowed them to be captured, but the best and the brightest from the kingdom of Judah, you could even say the future of the nation of Judah. Has now been turned over to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, that he might brainwash them and teach them the language and the culture of Babylon, to raise them up as his new leaders, his next generation, so that Judah will be officially wiped out historically.

George Wright: 11:31 This is challenging to consider. God, why are you allowing this to happen to your people? What about all the promises of God in your word for your people? Why are you allowing such uncertainty? And it appears that the only logical conclusion in this situation is that perhaps God is unfaithful. Maybe you feel that way today, God, why are you allowing such uncertainty? Have you abandoned your people? Where are you in this? And as the story continues, we see it gets even harder for the people of God as Nebuchadnezzar truly tries to indoctrinate the next generation, and capture the next generation, to remove them from even remembering who their God is.

George Wright: 12:38 Look at Daniel 1 verses 5 and following, it says, "The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego." Now this approach really is fascinating to consider. In many ways you could say that what Nebuchadnezzar is doing really is somewhat of a genius type approach to brainwashing the next generation that has been captured from a foreign land. He is seeking to attain the loyalty of these young men, and in doing so he tells them, you are going to receive the royal treatment if you will be loyal to me, your life will be better than anything that you could have experienced and Judah. The best food, the best wine, the best education, and then a prominent place of authority and leadership in the personal service of the King. Hey guys, all you have to do is abandon your roots. All you have to do is walk away from your faith. All you have to do is renounce your God, and you will be sitting pretty in the palace of the King. Nebuchadnezzar is seeking to give them a new identity altogether, and we see this in ordering that they be given new names. Daniel's name in Hebrew means God is my judge, his very identity rooted in the righteousness and justice of God. But he's given a new name in Babylon. His new name Belshazzar, which means Baal's prince, the prince of a false god. A new identity rooted and grounded, not in the one true God, but in a false pagan God, an idol.

George Wright: 15:19 If ever there was a picture of what the enemy of God attempts to do as he seeks to work in our lives, it's what we see right here in Daniel chapter 1. Just like King Nebuchadnezzar in this story, the enemy of God tries to convince you, and tries to commence me, in the midst of uncertain times that he has a better way for us to live. When our circumstances change, and when we face uncertainty, and when we don't know what the future holds, he wants us to conclude that we're feeling this way because God has let us down. The enemy of God wants you, and wants me, to believe that all that we have to do to experience the best of the world, and all we have to do to experience something better than our current reality, is to abandon our God and be faithful to the things of the world.

George Wright: 16:29 His strategy really is as old as sin itself. In fact, I want to take you back to the garden of Eden, to the very beginning of the story where we see sin enter into the equation for all of mankind. Genesis chapter 3 beginning in verse 1, it says, "Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” What are we seeing here? The enemy of God is also called the father of lies, and his primary mode of attack in his lying is very subtle and crafty. He is more crafty than any other beast of the field, Genesis 3:1 says. And he wants to distort the truth, and he wants to elicit fear, and he wants to take our eyes off of what God says is best so that we will get to a place where we do not trust God at his word. For he wants us to believe that God does not know what we need at all and, he wants us to believe that God is holding out on us. If you believe God is holding out on you, you will believe that God has let you down, and if you believe that God has let you down, you will certainly conclude that God is not faithful or trustworthy. This is the attack of the enemy. In times of uncertainty, he wants to flood our mind with doubts so that we will miss out on God's best when we need to see it the most.

George Wright: 18:54 So please don't miss this, this is so important to understand, every crisis is an opportunity for God to do great things. Every season of uncertainty is an opportunity for us to see the faithfulness of God. Every time we are reminded that we are not in control, we are given the opportunity to trust the one who is truly in control. And so I would propose to you that even as things appear so uncertain in front of us right now, and even as uncertainty so quickly leads us to doubt and question God's best for our lives. I would propose to you that we are living in an unprecedented opportunity to see God at work, to do even greater things, and to point to the hope that we have in our unchanging God who is faithful to the end.

George Wright: 19:58 As we step back in to Daniel's story, we see how Daniel responds to this uncertainty, to this new normal and these changing circumstances. Daniel chapter 1 verse 8, it says, "But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the King's choice food or with the wine which he drank." What is this revealing? Well, this is revealing that Daniel makes a choice to stand upon the promises of God. It's a difficult choice, it's not an easy choice. He has been tempted with an incredible opportunity to go in a new direction all together, but does not allow his changing circumstances to dictate his belief about the faithfulness of God. And even as he faces uncertainty, and even as he faces a situation that could be incredibly difficult if he stands upon his faith in the Lord, Daniel resolves that his trust will be in the Lord. Perhaps for some of you here this morning, that is exactly what you need to resolve. You need to make a declaration in your heart, in your mind, that no matter what we face, I will trust in the Lord.

George Wright: 21:32 And look at what happens next as Daniel lives by faith. Verse 9, it says, "God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs." What an amazing verse to consider as Daniel does what is incredibly difficult in the midst of uncertainty, he stands on the faithfulness of God and resolves that he will trust in God. And the scripture says, God grants Daniel favor in the sight of the one who is looking to him. What an amazing declaration of God's faithfulness, to use Daniel's faith to point others to the good news of who God is and what he has done. God uses Daniel's faith to be a picture of God's sovereign rule and reign even in the face of uncertainty.

George Wright: 22:44 And so as we face this season of uncertainty, and as we navigate an unprecedented time an uncharted territory, as we look out into the future and have no idea what might be coming next, I want to leave you with several key thoughts. My hope is that this would be an encouragement to you, and also provide an opportunity for you to have some follow up conversation, perhaps with whoever you're joining together with for this service today.

George Wright: 23:18 Number one, we see in on times of uncertainty that uncertainty invites us to see the faithfulness of God. That's what this story about Daniel is revealing to us today. As our senses are heightened, and we searched for answers in uncertainty, God reveals his faithfulness. And God is his people to remember who he is, remember what he's done, and remember what he's promised because our God always fulfills his promise. Romans 8:28 says it this way, "We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." I realize this verse may, at first glance, appear a little trivial or trite in the face of what we are walking through with COVID-19. Please don't miss this, God is at work to reveal his best to us even when we face uncertain times. God is at work doing greater things than we could imagine even in the face of a crisis. How will God use COVID=19 for good, for those who love him, that's yet to fully be seen. We don't have the full picture yet, but I know, I know according to what the word of God reveals that God is inviting us into an opportunity to demonstrate his faithfulness in ways that the world perhaps has never seen, or at least has not seen in recent memory. For he will grow our faith in this season of challenge, and he will use us to stand out for the sake of his glory, and he will shine the light of the gospel even in a dark and hurting world, as we point to who our God is and what he has done for those who love him. Our God is faithful, and uncertainty invites us to see, with a renewed clarity, the faithfulness of God.

George Wright: 26:03 But secondly, uncertainty is not final, and uncertainty invites us to look to what truly is. Uncertainty is not final, and it invites us to look to what truly is. What do I mean by this? Well, uncertainty invites us to consider, where are we placing our hope? Are we placing our hope in the things of this world? Are we placing our hope in the federal government and the governing authorities that are seeking to know how to respond to this pandemic? Are we placing all of our hope and medical experts coming up with a vaccine as quickly as possible? Are we placing our hope in the comfort of the things of this world? Or is our hope fixed on that which is unchanging, and that which is truly certain? Where are we placing our hope?

George Wright: 27:04 Uncertainty is not final, and invites us to look to what truly is. Second Corinthians chapter 4 beginning in verse 16 says this, "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. " Our uncertainty in this season is not final, but it invites us to consider what truly is. Where is your hope? Is your hope in the things of this world that are here today and gone tomorrow, changing every moment right in front of our face, or is your hope on the unchanging faithfulness of God? For he is the same yesterday, today and forevermore.

George Wright: 28:30 Finally, as we prepare to close our time together in worship this morning, uncertainty reminds us of who is truly in control. Don't we need to hear this today? Uncertain times highlight the fact that we are not in control, but uncertain times invite us to see the one who truly is. Isn't this one of the beautiful truths that is most foundational to the Christian faith? This is what we see when we look to the cross of Christ. When it appeared that all hope was lost, when the disciples came face to face with the reality that they were out of control and it looked as if the darkness had won the day, God was at work to demonstrate the most beautiful act of love and hope that the world had ever seen. Even when it looked that everything was spiraling out of control in the power of the darkness as Christ died at the cross, God was in control. Even in times of uncertainty, where it appears hopeless, we are reminded that every crisis is an opportunity for God to do great things and to demonstrate his faithfulness to us.

George Wright: 30:12 The uncertainty and the hopelessness of the cross leads to the victory and redemption in the power of the resurrection for all who are in Christ and place their hope and trust in him. Romans chapter 8 verses 38 and 39 say it this way, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." We have come face to face with the reality that we are not in control, but we are being invited to look to the one who is. Our circumstances may change around us, but our God never does and his love for us is unchanging. And so as you look into an immediate future that appears so uncertain, may you be reminded that if you are in Christ Jesus, your final future is explicitly clear. For God is in control, and he is at work in all of this uncertainty to do incredible things as we look to him, and trust in him, and believe that he is going to use this, even this, to bring about good for those who love him, and to point others to the beautiful gift of his love.

George Wright: 32:18 Shandon, and all who are joining us this morning, I want to encourage you, fix your eyes on Jesus. In the midst of uncertainty, look to the one who is certain, and demonstrates love toward us in the price that he was willing to pay to invite us into life with him. You can trust in Jesus, for his faithfulness knows no end.

George Wright: 33:01 Let me pray for us as I close this message this morning. Father God, it is a tremendous, tremendous privilege even as we are not able to gather together in person, to know that we can gather together online all around the states, and the country, and wherever people are tuning in. What an amazing privilege to know that even in this trying time, this uncertain time, this season of such great unknown, we can look to the one who is faithful to the end. We can look to the one who is in control. We can look to the one who continually demonstrates incredible love, amazing grace, beautiful patience, and compassion towards those in need. Father, we need you, and we are praying for you to meet us in this season of uncertainty, to strengthen our faith and resolve to point others to who you are and what you have done. Oh, how we need to be reminded of the faithfulness of our God. And Father, for those who are joining us today who have never experienced the gift of your faithfulness in a personal way, those who are joining us today who have had a lot of questions about who you are and where you are in all of this, and what you could possibly be doing. Lord, I pray that they would see your love, and know your grace, and recognize that you are pursuing them even now with the beautiful gift of the gospel that invites us into salvation. I pray that there would be some today that would say, I need the certainty of knowing the savior, and I am trusting my life to Jesus. Oh, how grateful we are for your love and your grace, how reminded we are today of how much we need it. Give us the faith to live in light of what you have done for us. It's in Christ's name that we offer this prayer. Amen.

Unknown: 35:35 Hey, thank you so much for joining us today. What a powerful message by our pastor George Wright? Did God do anything in your life that you want to respond to today? Text RESPOND to the number on the screen if you're investigating Christianity, want to know what it's all about? We want to hear from you. If you want to grow in your walk from Christ, or just have any general questions, text RESPOND to the number on the screen. And we want you to visit our website, and when you go there, one of the things you'll see is how to join a community group so that we can stay connected during this time. Go to and check out all the wonderful opportunities we have for you to stay connected. While you're there, there's an option to give. This is an amazing opportunity for us to advance the gospel, and your generosity goes a long, long way. Thanks again so much for joining us, and hey, think about inviting somebody next time you join us online for worship service.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206