When We Can’t Control Life (And Why That’s a Great Thing)

{Image: joseasreyes / 123RF Stock Photo}

{Image: joseasreyes / 123RF Stock Photo}

I know it’s weird, but I laugh when I read verses like this one:

“You [God] have decreed the number of [mankind’s] months
and have set limits it cannot exceed.
So look away from him and let him alone,
till he has put in his time like a hired laborer.” – Job 14:5-6

Anyone else hear twelve-year-old eye-rolling drama in that? Or Eeyore?

I do. Probably because I’ve been that drama queen and Eeyore more than I want to admit. . .

Regardless, I get Job because his story is about when life knocks us on our rear end. When we think we know exactly what could or might happen. . . then it unfolds so differently that we scratch our heads and proclaim, “You’re either clueless, helpless, or heartless, God! What gives??!”

Today, as my daughter’s doctor looked across his desk, shrugged, and said he wasn’t sure how to help her through a recent collision of puberty and Bipolar, I thought of Job, the end of his story, and how not being in control can, in fact, be a great thing. Why?

Because we can’t fathom what’s possible.

At one point Job says to God: “I will be proved innocent. Who can argue with me over this?. . . if you prove me wrong, I will remain silent and die” (Job 13:18-19). OK, yes, that’s ONE option. Or God could listen and have mercy. Or Job’s wife could stop being a whiner and come sit with him and hold his hand. Or the boils could spread to his big-mouth friends and they’d stop pontificating.

We may think we know what’s coming, but we don’t. Even if we come up with 20 different possible outcomes, the only thing we can really know is “how impossible it is for us to understand [God’s] decisions and his ways”* (and, perhaps, that we’re too tired to make lists and that a nap is in order!)

Because we can’t control life or people.

Instead of wasting energy fearing what bad might happen, what if we focused on what good has already happened? What if we sat in those memories and soaked in how we felt about God and life right then? After my appointment today, I grabbed myself on the way down Hopeless Mountain and recalled how this one of my four girls rarely ever gets sick. As in, I can count on one hand the number of times she’s been sick in the past decade. Any mother reading this knows what a freak of nature that is in a big family! A freak of nature. . . and a reminder that God is GOOD, even when right now may not seem to show it.

Recalling our God-is-Great moments frees this moment of its doomsday “what if?” alter-ego.

Because we really can’t do it alone.

Job (sort of) figured out that rebutting his judging friends wasn’t going to get him anywhere, so once he vented a little at them, Job aimed his anger at the One where the buck actually stopped: God. The only one who could 1) handle it, and 2) do something about it. . . and the only one who answers with both truth and love—always.

Of course, that doesn’t make his answers feel less like a Brillo pad and antiseptic, but anyone who’s lived long enough knows that’s what heals festering wounds full of pride, anger, hurt or resentment. And that God actually TELLS us to let Him have it:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplications with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Which, in the Laurie Wallin version, sounds a little like this:

Stop freaking out, but in every situation, feeling, crisis, question and struggle, be honest with God about it. And the peace of God (which makes no sense whatsoever, considering your circumstances) will protect you and that struggling heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

That peace guards us—keeps us safe, protects us in the how-will-we-ever-get-through-this? seasons—what relief! Who needs control when we could have a fortress to keep us safe in the storms?


*Romans 11:33

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  1. Jane Franks says

    Yes, You nailed it again! We JUST came off an incident that perfectly illustrates this. Are you looking over my shoulder?? lol. You HAVE to read our recent Prayer UPdate to our list of prayer partners. You won’t believe what is happening. I can’t put it in a public blog. But basically, something we have been working on/waiting for and been postponed several times has had some “significant movement” in the last few days, and only God could have orchestrated it. It is such FUN to watch Him do things no one else could possibly arrange!! 🙂