Then God said to Noah, “You and your wife, your sons, and their wives should go out of the boat. Bring every animal out of the boat with you—the birds, animals, and everything that crawls on the earth. Let them have many young ones so that they might grow in number.”
So Noah went out with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives. Every animal, everything that crawls on the earth, and every bird went out of the boat by families. Then Noah built an altar to the Lord. He took some of all the clean birds and animals, and he burned them on the altar as offerings to God. The Lord was pleased with these sacrifices and said to himself, “I will never again curse the ground because of human beings. Their thoughts are evil even when they are young, but I will never again destroy every living thing on the earth as I did this time. As long as the earth continues, planting and harvest, cold and hot, summer and winter, day and night will not stop.” Genesis 8:15-22
We can be certain about uncertainty. Noah didn’t know the details of what would happen when God told him to build an ark. He simply knew he needed to respond to what God was telling him at the time. Our lives are the same. God might tell us to step in a certain direction, pursue a particular opportunity, or sacrificially serve. We can be certain we need to step out in obedience. We can be certain God will continue to guide and provide. We can also be certain we will not be aware of every detail of the process. We can be certain God has a better perspective than we do, works through the details, and can be trusted. We can know God’s promises, but we likely won’t know the details of the fulfillment of the promises.
Because we don’t know every detail, we can also travel through uncertainty even though our faith is certain. We can be completely secure in our faith, including not knowing the details, but uncertainty can begin to weigh on us, especially when it seems as long and bleak as winter months. Consider Noah and his family on the ark. Imagine the rock of the ark. Imagine the smell. Imagine the work of taking care of the animals. Imagine the sounds. Imagine looking out and seeing no land. There was no GPS, so without landmarks, Noah would not have been able to assess where he was.
Keep in mind Noah wasn’t a young man when he built the ark. He didn’t have his sons Shem, Ham, and Japeth until he was over 500 years old, and he was 601 years old when he was on the ark. Noah had been told it was going to rain 40 days and 40 nights, but he hadn’t been told the details of what would happen during that time or immediately afterward. God told him to load the ark seven days before the rains started, and while the rains stopped after 40 days, water covered the earth for 150 days (Genesis 7). The massive amount of rain lifted the ark 20 feet above the top of the mountains. After the ark rested on a mountain top, nearly another 100 days passed before God instructed Noah to exit. Noah and his family were on the ark for a long time.
How do you expect you would have responded through Noah’s experience?
Noah’s name means “rest” in Hebrew. Building an ark certainly doesn’t seem like much rest. Yet it is restful, because relying on and trusting God is rest. It’s resting in God’s presence. It’s a kind of rest that is active. It takes decision, commitment, and action to remain in God’s will. It doesn’t come naturally. The more we develop our spiritual muscles, the more readily we respond to God’s voice and instruction, but growing toward God, being intimate with him, takes effort, and it takes practice over time. And at any point along the way, as we take our eyes off God and let distractions draw our attention away from him, our habits of following God can erode so that we slow down, turn away, or reject God’s will for us.
How are you actively resting in God’s presence today, listening to his instruction and responding in obedience?
Noah was certain in his faith even when he was surrounded by uncertain circumstances. God doesn’t limit this type of faith to Noah or to those who experienced him throughout the times the Old and New Testaments were written. You – living exactly when and where you are – can have the same certainty in faith. Another word for such certainty is assurance.
What do you learn about assurance from the following quotes and verses?
“The opposite of sight and feeling is faith. Now it is the soulish person who gains assurance by grasping the things which can be seen and felt; but the person who follows the spirit lives by faith, not by sight.” (Watchman Nee)
“Assurance is the fruit that grows out of the root of faith.” (Stephen Charnock)
“To be assured of our salvation is no arrogant stoutness. It is faith. It is devotion. It is not presumption. It is God’s promise.” (Augustine)
“If any man is not sure that he is in Christ, he ought not to be easy one moment until he is sure. Dear friend, without the fullest confidence as to your saved condition, you have no right to be at ease, and I pray you may never be so. This is a matter too important to be left undecided.” (Charles Spurgeon)
But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. (Colossians 1:23)
Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. (Colossians 1:27)
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Know that you can be assured in your faith. You might feel as if you’re in a long winter of uncertainty. You’re blinded by swirling snow or pouring rain. You’re chilled to the bone and can’t get comfortable. You’re faced with long days and nights of the stench and sounds of strange animals. Little seems familiar.
Yet you can rest amidst the uncertainty, because you can be certain of God’s presence. You can be certain of his provision. He cares for you and the details of your life, and he doesn’t forget you. He never will. Rest assured.