Control: The Key to Despair

I’m going to just lay it out there from the beginning: I like to be in control. I used to think I wanted to be in charge. Over time, however, I realized that being in charge doesn’t necessarily mean anything. We all have the freedom to disregard the person in charge. We do this with God all the time. He is clearly in charge of everything that exists, but by our free will we disregard Him. Dictators in charge of entire nations have used inhumane means to get people to do what they want, only to kill them in the end because of their refusal. I don’t want to be in charge; I want to be in control—of everything.

To be completely honest, I want to control my job, my family, my country, my Redskins…. I want to control everything that may affect any part of my life. Ultimately, I want everything to fit into a nice little package so I can manipulate it to my liking. That way I will feel no pain, no discomfort, no interruption to my plan. Ah! There’s the rub: My plan versus God’s plan. That always seems to be the critical component.

Let’s take a small jaunt through my intellect (the key word being “small”). If I’m going to be honest, I have to admit that I almost always think I know best. That being the case, things ought to go my way. But there is always One who knows better than I. He made me, and He knows what’s best for me. Sometimes that means I have to endure some difficulty. James 1:2-4 says,

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Trials are no fun, but they produce some great stuff. The testing of our faith produces patience. That seems like a critical component of Christianity. Numerous passages in Scripture talk about waiting on God (e.g., Psalm 37:1-8), which will require patience. But here’s the nitty-gritty: That testing of our faith that produces patience in the trial is exactly what causes our growth/maturity. This enables us to be perfected in Christ. As a result, it’s the perfect knowledge of God that brings the right trial so I can grow and handle the pain of life. Those difficult things I keep trying to run from are the very things I need so I can live a life that’s pleasing to God.

Here’s the other side of the coin. When I refuse those things God is trying to work in my life, I get all twisted inside. As I try to control what’s going on by running away or refusing to face it, it actually produces the opposite of what God wants; it produces immaturity. That’s right, it makes me just a little kid who is not getting his way. Do you know what that looks like in humans, a little kid not getting his way? It usually ends in a temper tantrum, or sulking, or crying. Ultimately, it produces hurt, discontentment, anger, despair, and on it goes. It’s not pretty.

So we’re left with a choice. I can try to control my life (not possible) and end up very frustrated, or I can count it all joy when I fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of my faith produces patience. I think it’s time for me to let God be in control.