TOLERANCE FOR AMBIGUITY

Tolerance for AmbiguityWho is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to Me. Job 38:2-3

 

In my master’s program for counseling, we studied “tolerance for ambiguity,” or the ability to manage uncertainty in which an outcome is unknown. Life is full of situations when we are not certain what will happen. A 2018 study at Brown University found that people who can handle uncertainty are more likely to trust others and cooperate in seeking solutions to problems. This makes sense because trusting others means we have to take a risk that what they say to us is true and what they say they will do, they will do. This trust allows us to work with others to solve problems, within our families or work or church. Embarking on group projects automatically means we don’t know the exact outcome, But sometimes the outcome can be much more than we expected or hoped for.

 

A case study in tolerance for ambiguity is the Bible story of Job. Psychology Today Magazine columnist Dr. Mark Banschick has an interesting commentary on how Job, a man with faith, health, wealth, wisdom, and a large and close family experiences numerous undeserved traumas. The book opens with God telling Satan what a good man Job is. Satan challenges God that surely Job will not maintain his faith if he loses everything. God says, “You’re on,” and the tragedy begins. Job loses livestock, possessions, family, his own health and much more…but he never once denounces God. Then Job’s “friends” arrive. They argue, “You must have sinned (really bad),” “There’s a grand plan (and you don’t know it),” “You’re really mad at God (so admit it).” But still Job persists in his faith. He asks God what’s going on, and God answers him loud and clear. In fact, in Chapter 38, God wallops Job: “Who do you think you are? YOU didn’t create the universe and set the world in motion!” Job might have been terrified of God’s judgment, but what this faithful, good man saw was that God cared enough to come down and be with Job in his sorrow and pain. And that’s what He does for all of us when we experience trauma.

 

Almighty God, we thank You that you comfort us when we are afflicted and traumatized. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

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