Have you heard anyone talking about how there is so much uncertainty in the world right now?
I hear this all the time – and I’ve even said it myself – but this statement completely misses reality. The reality is that the world has always been full of uncertainty. None of us know whether we will be alive at the end of the day. None of us know whether something unexpected is going to wipe out our ability to provide for our family or our future. And none of this is new “right now.”
In fact, what is happening right now is what has always happened – we collide with the unexpected and are forced to deal with it – and some of this is good! Now I am certainly not saying it’s good people have died and lost their jobs because of COVID-19. But I am saying difficulty is the mother of innovation.
When the automobile arrived on the scene in the early 1900’s everyone owned a horse and buggy. And so, while many people were intrigued by the automotive novelty there were big concerns about change. At the time cars required continual maintenance and were constantly breaking down – a good horse was way more consistent. Plus a big part of the economy was tied to raising, training and feeding horses – people were invested. People are always invested in the way it is.
But fortunately for everyone who is glad we don’t have to take 10-day horseback rides to Vancouver every time we need to see a specialist (imagine the hemorrhoids!) there were some problems that forced themselves upon society at the same time the automobile showed up.
Did you know that in in the 19th century air quality and pollution from transportation was one of the biggest concerns for people in New York? Of course, it wasn’t carbon monoxide people were concerned about, it was the annual accumulation of 100,000 tons of horse manure and 10 million gallons of urine on the streets! Imagine the smell! Imagine the disease! Cars were ironically the environmental answer to a very real problem!
On top of this, once the assembly line was created and the cost of buying a vehicle became attainable, it quickly became cheaper to drive a car than own a horse. It cost roughly $100 to feed a horse for a year (in 1900) whereas you could drive a car for roughly $35 (those WERE the good old days!).
Here’s the thing, innovation and difficulty go together. Very few of us choose to put ourselves in uncomfortable places, but when we are forced into them some of us innovate and rise to the challenge. And the result is that life is better, often for everyone.
Perhaps you’ve encountered some of the COVID-19 inventions. Maybe you enjoy the idea of working from home in your pajamas. Or perhaps you are pleased that now when you're sick and need your prescription refilled you can do it from my couch. Or perhaps you aren’t sure yet.
But regardless, things aren’t going back to the way they were. Just like horse poop in 1900, COVID-19 is a problem that has forced change. We can lament this (a certain amount of this is healthy), but we need to prepare ourselves for what is yet to come.
So while we could spend our time complaining about how much uncertainty is in the world right now a better use of our time is asking ourselves “How am I going to respond to the uncertainty I’m living in the middle of? Am I going to cower in fear and hold on to the way things used to be, or am I going to courageously move forward into the unknown of the new normal?”
The other day I came across the Francis Chan video I’ve tagged below. If you love Jesus but have been caught off guard by all the uncertainty in the world (like I have!) then this is for you. Francis has a great word of encouragement and challenge for Jesus followers.