Question: What do you do when your plans crash and burn, when you are no longer in control of the situation? Get angry or up tight? Start throwing things? Have a pity party? Blame others?
Let’s just face it. Every one of us gets angry at times. It really doesn’t matter whether you are one of those Type-A Driver personalities or not. Sometimes things just do not go our way and we find ourselves responding in some way to the situation at hand. How do you respond?
Over the past several weeks, we have been studying the biblical book of James in our Bible study. Now, I must tell you I am VERY committed to studying the Word of God, every word in it, attempting to apply the principles found therein to my life in some way. But every time I have studied the book of James, the Lord seems to apply a direct challenge to that in my life… in spades.
Why do I believe that is so? Because in the opening verses of that book, God commands us to “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials” (James 1:2). All I can say is, I must still have a lot to learn in that area of my life, because whenever I am studying James, the trials seem to come. Now I am not just talking one trial. It seems that there are always multiple trials.
For example, within the past month, our golf cart has died for the umpteenth time. That sounds trivial, but here in Florida in our community, a golf cart is much like a second car. For many it is their only vehicle, but for us it is a necessary purchase, and it is not cheap! Right after that, our car air conditioning went out. That was another expensive endeavor to repair. When I drove the car home after the A/C had been repaired, the garage door would not open. A new garage door opener was in the offing for that situation.
Then last week, the night before an out-of-state business trip, the wireless router of our internet system went out. And of course, there is no internet service to be had on the weekends, so it was three days before we could get it repaired.
Just this evening, we discovered a leak in one of our faucets, and a plumber I am not!
I must say, God sure does have a sense of humor!
Well, if these situations had happened to you, how would you respond? Do you have everything in your life under control? I doubt that you do. Very few people do. Right now, you may be lying in bed, writhing in pain with severe back problems. You may be dealing with other sicknesses or disease. Or perhaps you have just experienced the loss of a dear loved one and are suffering through the process of grieving over that loss. Perhaps there is a rebellious teenager in your home who is “driving you nuts!” Or maybe your marriage is struggling, or your job is oppressive, or you have a financial dilemma with no end in sight. How will you respond?
Years ago, a friend was struggling with back issues, although at the time he thought it was simply a leg problem. He visited several doctors who could not help him with the pain. A couple of them even suggested the problem was mental and not physical. They encouraged him to see a psychiatrist for help. When I visited with him, the words of the psalmist came to mind, and I have stood by them ever since: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea…” (Psalm 46:1-2). The fact of the matter is that no matter what our situation, God is in control. AND HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING! He is still on His original Plan A, and there is no Plan B.
You may be saying, “Well, that’s just great, but what I am supposed to do while I am in pain and life is out of my control? How am I supposed to deal with situations in which I cannot gain the upper hand?” That same psalm has the answer for us: “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a). But what about all those who are counting on me? Or what about …? The psalmist had the answer to that one too, in the last half of that verse, when he said, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10b).
What God is saying is that, in spite of all my plans and all my worries about the plans I have made, He will indeed get the job done with me or without me. He will accomplish His plans, whether I am able to do the job or not. All He asks me to do is to trust Him.
Isn’t it true that ultimate freedom in life is the ability to choose the right attitude? And attitude is something that does not depend upon circumstances; it is a matter of our will, our deciding how we will look at what life situations cross our path. Therefore, you and I can choose to “be still and know that [He is] God.” Or we can choose to get up-tight, and constantly (and miserably, I might add) fight for control of things over which we will never have control.
I can confidently say that God’s desire for you (and me) this day, this week is that you humbly and prayerfully submit whatever is looming out of control in your life to Him, to lift each issue of your day to Him and rest it in His loving hands and sovereign care. Be still… and know that He is God. And He WILL provide!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for this newspaper and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at [email protected].