“Do something!” This is what all of us hear in stressful times and crises – either audibly or inwardly. Where jeopardy exists, most of feel compelled to rectify or somehow improve the situation. If we cannot, we feel helpless, and many of us feel we have failed, even if there is truly nothing we can do. The odd thing is that 98% of us will try something.
It is a little like two boys I remember from my 6th grade class who used to entertain whenever the teacher left the room. Jeff was unusually tall for his age, and Tommy was the shortest boy in our grade – they were best friends. Their favorite routine was for Jeff to insult Tommy, who would jump out of his seat to fight. Jeff would simply stand and extend one arm with open palm to catch Tommy’s head in mid-lunge. Then, Jeff would calmly maintain a stance of holding Tommy at arm’s length while Tommy swung his fists violently through the air, never coming close to landing a punch. How many of us expend untold amounts of energy swinging at the air? Why??
That answer is probably as diverse as we are unique. But for most of us, fear would be the driver that demands we take responsibility/control/action. We can’t allow our marriages to fail. We must exhaust every medical remedy. We stockpile food and water against natural disasters. We do these things with the hope that something will work…and there’s nothing wrong with the effort. But, are we placing our hope in our abilities/intellect and accompanying actions that often fail, rather than in the Lord our God Who will never leave us or forsake us? (Deuteronomy 31:6) This is really hard to answer honestly, because the truth is we ARE seeking a particular outcome – perhaps more than God. Maybe this question is only answered when we come to the end of ourselves…and that most often happens when we feel helpless.
The Apostle Paul had firsthand experience: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) Really, Paul?? Couldn’t we just skip all the negative stuff and move straight into strength?
God knew even Paul could not get this important lesson without personally walking in an impossible place. Paul, like us, pleaded with God for help. God answered him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s conclusion: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Paul did not get the outcome he was asking for. God gave him something better: the creative/resurrection power of God at work on his behalf – God in control. How many of us truly grasp how HUGE this is? How many of us would dare to trust God enough to step into it?