An Era of Uncertainty


“’Tis impossible to be sure of any thing but Death and Taxes.” (Christopher Bullock, 1716)

A rather despondent thought in an era of uncertainty.

In Newfoundland Labrador, during the season called Spring in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, the weather is always fraught with uncertainty.  As the buds on the trees struggle to morph into leaves, and crocuses and daffodils blossom into the grey cold misty air, the temperatures are as likely to dip close or into freezing as they are to rise.

Indeed, you would be more likely to reliably predict snow for the May 24th holiday weekend as you would rain (the usual options).  This year the weather started sunny, with rain on Sunday followed by snow ending the weekend on the Monday.

However, this amusing uncertainty pales in comparison to the uncertainty generated by such events as the third and fourth waves of coronavirus variants of concern, the horrifying death toll in India, the violent clashes between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East, the relentless results of global climate change, the call for respect and inclusion for persons of diversity, and what seems a pervasive answer to the question of “What is truth?” in the United States.

The countless counts of new infections, hospitalizations and deaths across the globe have desensitized me to the reality of the human tragedy.  It reminds me of growing up during the Viet Nam war, as Walter Cronkite would state the number of dead and missing, the number of bombs dropped on the North, the horror all reduced to gloomy cold statistics.

We are all hiding in body, mind and spirit trying to maintain our safety, wellbeing, perspective and perhaps our sanity.  Everything seems up in the air.

From the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, to be “for certain” is to be without doubt.  A “certainty” is an undoubted fact. Where is this truth we seek? What direction should we follow?

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”. (John 8: 31-32)

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14: 5-7)

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. (John 15: 1)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth (John. 16: 13a)

Jesus is the word, the truth, the way.  To find the truth is a journey to find the reality of Jesus, the Word made flesh who lived among us, who sought out the sinner, who healed the oppressed, who sat to dinner with the outcasts, who stood up to the greedy, in wisdom and grace.  An intimidating but necessary journey in this really wacky world.

We are not to withdraw from the world even if we could.

I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world…” (John 17: 15-19)

Although we can be reassured that we have been chosen to follow the path to truth, and that the Spirit leads us, and the Father protects us, can we know that everything will work out, and how?

I am reminded of a reflection in Sacred Space on this quote from John:

 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me” (John 10: 24-25)

“How well do I cope with ‘not knowing?’ The opposite to faith is not doubt but certainty. To believe is to be asked to go beyond facts to take a risk.” (from Sacred Space for April 27, 2021)

It’s as plain as the nose on Jesus’ face.  Trust, and look beyond what you see. As Father Winston Rye S.J. would say, “Michael, sit back in awe of all God’s wonderful work.”

That’s a tough ask. Ready to take a risk?

Dr. Michael Bautista is a physician practising in St. John's and is the recipient of the 2015 Ignatian Spirit Award from St. Bonaventure's. He is also the Chair of the Discipline of Anesthesia at Memorial University. and an associate professor of Medicine.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 02:45h, 09 July Reply

    Thank you Mike!

  • Vicky Chen
    Posted at 06:11h, 09 July Reply

    Keep up your good work, Dr. Michael. It used to be hard to attract new graduates to be trained and to stay in NFLD Labrador. May God continue to grant you the grace of growing in faith despite (or because of?) all the unknown.

  • Maria Skarzynski
    Posted at 11:02h, 09 July Reply

    Beautiful article – Thank you!!

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