I heard it again this week. And it made me cringe. If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time you’ve probably heard it hundreds of times. I think it’s a Christian cop out. In discussing the state of the economy this week with someone over coffee, we lamented our personal financial situation in light of the failing economy. Then she said it. “Oh, well, God is in control.”
Now let me flatly state that I have no problem believing God is in control. There is no question in my mind that the God of the universe is sovereign and all-powerful. I am utterly convinced my life is in the hands and strong arms of a loving, benevolent God. So what’s my problem?
Firstly, it’s the way we say it. So flippantly. So…Ka sera, sera, what will be will be. We walk away disengaged from what God might be doing in our lives through this crisis…or pain…or disillusionment, relieved nothing more is required of us than to assure ourselves of divine omnipotence. There is no participation with God. We don’t stop to ask ourselves, “I wonder what God is up to in all this?” We act as if the only important thing is that God fix what ever the problem is. What we don’t realize is the great work God usually wants to accomplish is the transformation of our hearts into the likeness of his Son…and God often uses such crisis’ to do it. God always invites us into active participation with him in his purposes and ways but we seldom take the time or the effort to pay attention to what that looks like in our lives especially when we think he should just “show up” and make things better.
Second, I believe we secretly believe because God is in control he will work it out or fix it how we want. He will surely make it go well with me, we think. Isn’t that what my co-worker meant? Surely she didn’t think that she would lose her job or have her 401k collapse. The tragedy in all this is that because we think God will move or work in a certain way, we miss what he’s really up to. We are looking for financial protection and maybe what God is calling to a quiet, listening, pilgrimage to hear his voice in the chaos around us.
So we miss the struggle. It’s such a benign way of living.
It made me think of Jacob wrestling with the angel at Peniel (Gen 32:22-32). Although I have never wrestled it seems a very intimate and yet violent sport. You cannot remain unengaged and it requires all of you, body, soul, and mind. The wrestlers’ bodies are fully engaged and there is intimate contact. It seems very personal! God seems to enjoy this wrestling with us, in fact, even invites us into it. We often just don’t want to go there. We don’t want to wrestle with God and therefore we miss the blessing of what that wrestling might look like for us. We may come out with a limp, but also with a new name.
Perhaps you’re believing God for healing. You say, “You’re in control, God!” Indeed he is. But don’t miss the healing he brings because you’re looking for it to look a certain way. Perhaps healing has more to do with learning to worship than getting life fixed.
God is in control. His agenda includes helping you recover your life. Real life. I wonder what that looks like.