The US election results. The war with ISIS and terror. Helplessly watching the disaster in Syria. Global insecurity. Closer to home? My kids. My marriage. My job. My finances. Feel out of control?
We in the West have this addition to certainty. We franticly scramble to ensure predictability and security in our lives. Most of us don’t like change, and all of us hate unwelcomed change. The resourced global West has been built on the value of being in control of our own lives; the result is a life distanced from God. The reality is we would rather In sha have certainty than intimacy with God.
People from non-Western nations have an advantage over us Western control freaks. In sha allah is Arabic for “if God wills”. Mañana is Spanish for “tomorrow or later,” referring to a tolerance for the uncertainty of today. Various Eastern faiths believe in karma: what goes around, comes around. All in recognition that we are never really in control of our lives. There is always something beyond our control that might affect the outcomes I desire. And that is incredibly biblical.
In a section on the topic of drawing close to God, James writes this:
Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” - James 4:13–15
So then, what brings us comfort when we are faced with the fact we are not in control of our lives? We are forced to recognize that God is. God is the One who is sovereign, which must mean that EVERYTHING that comes to pass in this life He either wills or allows. We might never know the reason He wills or allows something painful or uncomfortable. However, if He is truly sovereign and reigning—all the time—then we can rest; we can find peace.
And the most convincing evidence is found in the oldest of scripture’s texts. When Job’s life went dramatically out of control, the likes of which none of us will likely ever experience, this is how God answered Job:
Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’ Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth, to bring an end to the night’s wickedness? Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you explored their depths? Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom? Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know! - Job 38:3–18
For four entire chapters, God goes on-and-on asking questions like this. While seemingly insensitive at first read, this is potentially the most comforting section of scripture for me and other control freaks; because when I feel out of control, the most loving and peaceful thing for me to hear is that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who loves me completely, is utterly on His throne.
What better truth is there as we go into 2017?