Thomas Sleete on the unknown for Salt and Iron: Seasoned Writing

Encountering the Unknown

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

Corrie Ten Boom

The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.

Dean Acheson

“You need a coronary triple bypass procedure.” 

With that simple statement, the doctor knocked me back on my heels. Okay, I thought, I’ll deal with this in the near future when I’m ready.

Then the doctor continued by saying, “And it will be performed on Thursday.” 

At that point I was staring right into the face of the mystery, doubt, and a test of faith, not to mention death. On top of that, all of this occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic. There were so many questions. How painful was this going to be? What were my chances? Was this the end? How would it affect my kids? Where did this come from, all of a sudden, since I was asymptomatic? The questions kept coming. 

Comfort and Guidance

To make a long story very short, it all has turned out for the best as of now, over a year later. My children were fantastic, faithful, and the embodiment of love in their support. I had so many people praying for me. The doctors and nurses treated me wonderfully and even though I had complications that required another week in the hospital, they never failed to perform what they lovingly saw as their duties with compassion and excellence. Though it was taxing and even excruciating at times, I got through it. 

Frankly, I don’t believe that I would have made it without help from all of them. The most important help came from my Lord, however. I know that I would not have made it without Him. 

This has made me ponder how to deal with the unknown. For me, the verse in Psalm 23 was a comfort and guide: “Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me.”

Other verses also assured me of the Lord’s faithfulness. For example, Luke 24:25-26: “And which of you by worrying can add a day to his life’s span? Therefore if you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about the other things?” 

Another is Deuteronomy 31:8: And the LORD is the one who is going ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not desert you or abandon you. Do not fear and do not be dismayed.” 

I have dealt with the unknown so many times in my life. The death of my father, proposing marriage, the birth of my children, changing jobs at the age of 60, the death of my beloved wife, the list goes on and on. Some of these unknowns were joyous ones, others heart wrenching. Through each one of them, He—my deliverer and comforter—was there. 

Glorious Opportunities

We humans tend to overthink negative possibilities. There is a temptation to see the dark potential rather than the glorious opportunities presented by the unknown. This may sound amusing, but the greatest fear of the unknown in my life hit me when my wife and I put our newborn son in my car to drive home from the hospital. 

I thought that I had no idea how to be a father, and I felt totally unqualified. The actor Colin Hanks once wrote, “There’s no real class. They don’t check to make sure you’re prepared. I had to go through more training to drive the car home [from the hospital] than I did to have a baby for the rest of my life.” Through the grace of God, I became a father in the deepest meaning of that word, to the best of my ability and with the loving partnership of my wife. Thank the Lord. 

In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul wrote “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I also have been fully known.” We will also know how the Lord was with us every step of the way, and sent His angels to protect us, while the Holy Spirit guided us.

One of my favorite songs on this subject is “My Deliverer” by Rich Mullins. In times of dealing with the unknown, this line has blessed me:

My deliverer is comin’, my deliverer is standin’ by
I will never doubt His promise 
Though I doubt my heart, I doubt my eyes

How can I have trepidation about what is on the horizon, when my deliverer is right here with me?

Author: Thomas F. Sleete

Thomas F. Sleete is a retired American History teacher and educational consultant with over 44 years of experience. That from which he derives the most enjoyment in this world is his interaction with, and love for, his grandchildren. The Lord guided and comforted him through the loss of his wife, and one way he seeks to glorify the name of Jesus at every opportunity is through his writing.

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