We teeter on the edge, hoping and praying that things will get better. It has been a hard year for everyone and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. How many of us entered 2020 with reservations? How many of us, even the most negative of us, could have imagined what has happened? The answers to these questions really don’t matter. If you were worried, if you did imagine a year like the one we are having, what difference would it have made?
Are we in control?
No, we only have an illusion of control. The better question to ask is, are we too dependent on being in control? Illusion or reality, the peaceful prosperity of North American living has led us to believe that life is about being in control. Death from illness, has been reserved for the elderly and the unfortunate. Babies and moms almost always survive the trauma of childbirth. Cancer, although not fully avoidable poses a lower and lower risk of death as treatments are developed. Injuries that once were a death sentence are now not only survivable but can be treated in such a way that life for the most part returns to normal. Even though there are surprises in life, we still have felt confident that our tomorrows will not be cut short by war, famine, disease, or accident, until now.
Who should be in control?
God is the Christian answer but is He the one in control? Pre2020 I think most of those who called themselves followers of Christ would say God was in control of their lives. During 2020 many of the same group would say the only way to make it through COVID would be to allow God to be in control. Would God, pre2020 during 2020 and beyond 2020 say that He was in control of most Christ followers’ lives? I can only speak for myself when I say, “I don’t think so.” If 2020 has taught me anything, it is that the illusion of control is the biggest danger to our ability to come out the other side of any major issue relatively unscathed.
The illusion of control is both the Christ follower and Christ denier’s biggest enemy.
If we allow ourselves to believe that we are in control we are in trouble. To assume that the absence of major life issues means the presence of individual control is, I believe, the biggest contributing factor to mental health issues that spiral far beyond what we would expect from major life changes. This is not to say that there is a set amount of mental health issues that one should have in a worldwide pandemic but rather to point out that many have experienced levels of anxiety and depression that seem unaddressable. We have lived in the illusion that we can interrupt the outcome of almost anything and make it work out. We know that there are things beyond our control, but for the most part everyday life can be redirected away from problems. COVID has been the first time that we have been unable to redirect our path away from a problem on such a large scale.
If as Christ followers we allow ourselves to believe that we are in control, we are in even bigger trouble. Not only do we suffer from the illusion that we can redirect our path away from a problem like the rest of the world, we suffer from the illusion that we have placed God in control so we should be even more able to navigate through these problems. COVID showed those who did not share our faith that life is not something that can be fully controlled. COVID showed those who have faith in Christ that life is something that should be God’s to control. COVID proved that we are not in control but it also exposed that we are not supposed to be in control, God is.
We all should feel discomfort when not in control.
It doesn’t matter who you put your trust in, not being in control is scary. For Christ followers and the collectives of Christ followers, we have the answer to the anxiety we feel when things are out of control. Our problem is that we have not felt out of control enough in our North American cultural comforts to live out the Bible’s answer to this discomfort. I am not saying that 2020 should be a stress free year for the Christ follower. Actually I am saying the opposite. 2020 is most likely the biggest stress year that we will experience in our life. COVID plus regular situations will cause anxiety that will most likely never be equaled again. It isn’t that we experience anxiety that causes the problem, it’s that we have not replaced it with the actions prescribed by Paul in Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God should always be in control. When it all comes crashing down do not remain in your state of fear caused by what appears to be God’s lack of control. Take that anxious feeling and give to God, make it your practice to let Him have control because by doing this you will find peace that defies the situation you are in.