There is almost no worse feeling than the feeling that a situation with major implications is completely out of your control.
I spent the entire day feeling desperate, depressed, and completely incapable of turning my situation around. If I’d had the power to fix it, I would have….days ago. But the ultimate decision didn’t rest with me, it rested with people who had the absolute last word.
And they knew it.
I knew it.
I had no leverage at all, and absolutely no means to influence their decision. It was final.
The longer the day dragged on, the more frantic I became.
My initial response was to turn to the one thing I felt I could control: work.
I began to bury myself in needless deadlines and senseless responsibilities that kept me busy and not thinking about the 10-ton elephant sitting on my chest.
Isn’t it interesting that we’re so ready to tell others, “When Jesus is all you have, Jesus is all you need”; and yet when we’re in a desperate situation we turn to anything but Jesus?
We drown ourselves in work, TV, a good book….anything that will distract, but not actually resolve the pressure we feel.
It’s like someone’s amputated our leg and we somehow think an Asprin will help deal with the pain!
As the clock spun by, I looked at my t0-do list that seemed to grow with every tick-tock…and slowly it began to dawn on me that I had made a huge mistake.
I grabbed a sheet of paper, reworked my deadlines so that they could easily be met throughout the next week, put the computer away and between prayers for the Lord’s help, I began to entertain my kids by singing with them worship songs to Jesus.
The next day I woke up in a considerably different mood, and I realized I needed to do these four things:
4 Ways to Respond When You’re Out of Control
1. Admit that you’re not in control. This is such a crucial step. Many times when we’re not in control of our situation or it’s outcome, we still like to pretend we are. We don’t want to admit that we’re not in control because we feel that our lack of control reflects badly on us.
However, pretending we’re in control doesn’t actually change the situation. It only makes us more crazy! When we are finally able to admit that we are not in control of the situation and its outcome, we’ve already made significant strides to allowing peace to fill our hearts!
2. Surrender the situation and its outcome to the Lord. While your situation and its outcome may lie in the hands of your boss, husband, doctor, or someone else here on earth, the one who is really in control is the Lord.
Psalms 37:23 says that the Lord orders the steps of the godly. In fact, in Psalms 16 it says that even when we plan our course, He is still directing our steps. So, in reality we are never really in control.
The best thing we can do is lay the situation at the feet of Jesus and let Him take over. We’re not in control. Even when we think we’re in control, we’re not. So, lay it down at the feet of the One who is always in control and let Him handle it.
3. Train your heart to stay at peace. This takes time and discipline to do. Our hearts are prone to worry, but worry is a sin. The Bible repeatedly tells us not to worry, even about the little things. In fact, there are 365 verses that tell us not to fear: one for every day of the year.
Learning to live with a heart at peace despite our circumstances is a discipline that must be built in our hearts. It takes time and determination.
Peace is a fruit of the spirit, after all. And fruit takes time and care to grow.
As you do steps one and two, speak to your heart and tell your heart to remain at peace in the Lord. David did this throughout the Psalms when he said, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.”
4. Worship. Worship is a powerful tool. Music alone is a powerful way to influence our emotions, but when we pair it up with words of praise and worship to God, the enemy doesn’t stand a chance!
Put on a CD, or just begin to sing your favorite worship song. Think about the words and sing them to the Lord with intention, and then watch as your heart begins to turn around.
You may say, “But I’ve tried this and my heart is still anxious!”
If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is this: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
Training our hearts to remain at peace despite our circumstances takes diligence. These four steps are not a magic recipe. You can’t just give it a try one time and expect instant results, anymore than you can plant a new tree and expect to have fruit on it by fall.
Discipleship isn’t a microwavable meal. It’s a lifestyle that takes determination, diligence and discipline as we train our hearts to come under the discipline and direction of the Holy Spirit.
Dear friends, I hope that this series has been helpful for you. I don’t think it is a coincidence whatsoever that right in the middle of this series I was hit with a medical situation over which I had no control. I had moments when I was stressed out and anxious, and I have had to go back and revisit each post and remind myself of the lessons I learned in order to adequately cope with decisions over which I had no influence. And I feel like the message of this series on stress has only deepened within me.
May we all learn these lessons well: how to order our lives so that we can live in the abundant joy and peace of the Lord, understand our calling so that we are free to fulfill our destiny, and discipline our hearts so that we are able to live at peace even in the midst of life’s storms.
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