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Embracing Uncertainty

Thursday 7 May 2020

This week Chaplaincy Online addresses the theme of ‘Embracing Uncertainty’. As we continue to navigate our way through these unprecedented times, the process of routine and the pressure of outcome can cloud our sense of confidence moving forward. Understanding that we are not alone in our uncertainty and that good things can always come out of tough circumstances. When we can embrace the uncertain it can empower and provide a way forward, building a stronger sense of hope. 

Assistant Chaplain, Jo Morrow



We invite you to view a recording of this week's message – Embracing Uncertainty.

Reflections for Pause

Embracing Uncertainty

Living through uncertain times is like negotiating a tightrope: it requires skill, care, and considerable courage. The so-called ‘new normal’ of Covid-19 and its aftermath – whenever that will be – will be tough. But to acknowledge our emotions around change or loss is to be fully human.  We like certainty, familiarity and predictable rhythms, including and especially our connections with family, friends and colleagues, and these connections contribute to an overall sense of control. Uncertainty and change upset these patterns and force from us new ways of looking, seeing, and being. They also cut through the sometimes very superficial things in our lives and test our character. While such times are never easy they can also be growth points – if we allow them to be.

The Otago Chaplaincy Team have been offering support online and I was challenged by a recent comment written by a Muslim member of the team challenging the idea of certainty; 


“The certainty that we feel is an illusion, though; and it gives us a false sense of control and safety. Reality is filled with uncertainty and it is only how we respond to uncertainty that determines our emotional outcome. The person who accepts uncertainty knows that they are not in absolute control and does not stress over what is out of their control. The one who avoids uncertainty and desires control will find uncertainty everywhere and will be in a constant state of worry, anxiety, and stress.”  

We also learn through Scripture practical responses to uncertainty. The first thing to understand is that everyone will experience pain, loss, and suffering at some time and while this is hard it’s also part of being human. A big part. To expect these things can help us be prepared. Someone said: character is forged in everyday life but tested in adversity. It’s how we live in the good times that determines how we cope in hard times. We can take encouragement though, in knowing we are not alone. Others can help; so can God. Indeed, the divine presence can bring a peace greater than our understanding, even in times of uncertainty. Here’s what the Apostle Paul said to the believers at Philippi (in ancient Greece): ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:7). Our gratitude, honesty and vulnerability before God is a great starting place to know peace – especially in uncertain times.

Prayer of Reflection

This week's Prayer of Reflection is Be Still My Soul  by Tami Neilson and Don McGlashan.


In this week's Chaplaincy Online podcast, Heads of College, Emily Tyrrell and Hugh Montgomery, interview our Head of Boys' Boarding, Mini Toga.