Written by Gilbert Ackerman
I have a confession to make.
I’m a bit of a control freak.
Not so much in the traditional sense of the term though. I don’t feel the need to be in control of everything per se, but instead I don’t like feeling that I’m out of control. I don’t necessarily need to steer the ship, but I like to know that if I desired to steer that I would have full control of the ship.
It’s when I feel that I’m steering the ship, but things are going out of control that I get stressed. Things like my parents’ divorce, problems at work, tension in my family – all of these things stress me out because I can’t control them. What happens during those times is I spiral downward into an emotional black hole. For those of you that know Myers-Briggs, I’m an INFJ so when I go down, I go down hard. I experience depression, anger, apathy, and every emotion in between.
Ultimately though, all of us experience powerful, sweeping emotions in our lives. Something is beyond our control, thus it controls us and leads to instability. We walk around with a cloud over our heads because of something that has happened to us.
Our fifteen year marriage ended in a divorce.
My kid can’t stop doing drugs.
We don’t fit in at school.
Someone we loved passed away.
As Christians this can be extra disillusioning for us. We feel that God could answer something that he hasn’t, and at times (let’s be honest) we question God’s control of the situation. Our lives can feel like a bleak, shadowed reality that we never expected to happen.
In these moments, we feel paralyzed. We feel confused. We feel angry.
So the question we wrestle with is this: what do we do with the parts of our lives that we have no control over? What do we do with the parts of our lives that break our hearts and break our spirits?
Paul writes about our solution in one of his letters. In Philippians 4:8-9, he says:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
One of the saddest things about life is this: bad things will happen to everyone – guaranteed. However, one of the greatest joys about this life is the fact that we have someone bigger than our problems to care for us. We can invite the Holy Spirit’s power into our problems by choosing to focus on Him instead of our problems.
Let me give an odd analogy to help this make sense: your brain is just like your stomach. There are only so many things that can go in your stomach in a twenty-four hour period. If you feed it junk food, you will begin to develop a slew of health problems. However, if you feed it fruits and veggies you will feel better and live longer. This principle applies also applies to your mind.
What you choose to think about will either positively or negatively affect your spiritual life. While you may not have control over your situations, you always have control over your thoughts. When you think about good things: purity, faith, truth – you flood your spiritual life with vital God-sourced nutrients that make you stronger, and invite the Holy Spirit into your situations to move on your behalf. When you flood your life with this kind of attitude – watch out! That’s when God moves and answers prayer.
Is it easy? No, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Does it work? Absolutely. God always responds to faith.
You have a choice today to invite God’s power into your situation regardless of your situation. Recognize that God wants to move in your situation no matter how bad it may look. Take control of your thought life, and see God take control of your problems.
Think purely. Think honorably. Think about God. I promise He’ll move if you give him the chance.
Gilbert Ackerman works in the kids ministry department at the Deer Lakes Campus of Allison Park Church. When he’s not working, he enjoys researching personality assessments, reading fantasy books, and playing video games.