Certainty in Uncertain Times

EDITOR'S NOTE: Max Torkelsen II was elected president on November 19, 2008, to replace Jere D. Patzer, who died on October 26, 2008. Read more about Torkelsen in the FYI section of this issue.

Even a cursory look at the landscape of our lives and times reveals a rapidity of change which can be truly breathtaking. And change is often accompanied with uncertainty. We feel uncertain because of the economic crisis. Will there be sufficient resources to meet my financial obligations, to pay for my education or my kid's education, to take care of me in retirement, to pay for medical expenses, or even keep food on the table? Banks and large businesses whose names have been familiar for our whole lives are failing. The state of the economy as measured by financial markets wildly fluctuates on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

But the economy is not the only thing. We feel uncertainty as to whether we can live in safety and security in our neighborhoods and communities. We feel uncertain as to whether our courts and judges still care about justice and protection of constitutional rights. We feel uncertain when increasing numbers of the families we observe are dysfunctional and lacking in love and stability. We feel uncertain because too many of our young men and women have had to lose their lives on distant battlefields.

Changes in leadership—whether for country or church—can produce uncertainty as well. Will new people and new faces provide direction to more stability and hope or will they preside over ever increasing challenges and crisis?

I'm very much like you. I feel uncertain about a lot of things. My heart longs for peace and security and sanity in the midst of a world that seems out of control. And I've concluded that the only place left to find unfailing hope and certainty is by going back to the unshakable foundations of our values and beliefs.

God is always faithful. Malachi 3:6 says, "For I am the Lord, I change not." We can be sure that God is still on the throne, He is still in charge of the affairs of men, for He says, "I will not fail you, nor forsake you" Joshua 1:5. Come to think of it, when you look at a dollar bill about the only thing you can still count on are the words on the back of the bill which say, "In God We Trust."

The promises of God's Word are sure. "Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise" Hebrews 10:23 (NLT). Jere Patzer, during the courageous battle he fought with the ravages of disease, never wavered in his confidence that "God can be trusted to keep his promise." Jere said, "Live or die—it gets better either way." Those words are a ringing affirmation of unconditional faith.

As I begin this journey as team leader for God's work in the Pacific Northwest, at a time of great uncertainty and unprecedented change, I challenge myself and encourage all of you with the words of the great church leader, the apostle Peter. "The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.... God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God's generosity can flow through you" 1 Peter 4:7–10 (NLT).

When you look at a dollar bill about the only thing you can still count on are the words on the back of the bill which say, "In God We Trust."

January 01, 2009 / Editorial
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Max Torkelsen II, North Pacific Union Conference president