God is in control

March 20, 2017 at 6:00 AM


(Editor's note: Rev. Deb Mechler of Spencer, Iowa, is a member of a Partnership Ministry Team to Kayes, Mali. She serves as the pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Royal, Iowa.)

God is in control

By Rev. Deb Mechler

We are in the season of Lent where we are preparing and waiting for the observance of Holy Week and Easter.

I have been using a book by Holly Whitcomb, “Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting,” for the Sunday sermon series in the church I am serving as interim pastor.

This week we are thinking about the gift of loss of control. What? Losing control is a gift? I imagine it makes a difference whether you feel as though you are in control in general.

In an affluent country like the U.S., we often operate under the illusion that we are in control. But a sudden change like a cancer diagnosis, loss of a job, suffering as a victim of crime, or a natural disaster quickly disabuses us of that notion.

In other cases, we lose control gradually. A family member goes rogue; we watch someone we love descend into dementia or depression; a relationship deteriorates bit by bit. We are powerless to stop the decline.

The author reminds us that these are times when we have the opportunity to see God at work through other people – in the resilience and faith that develop within, and even in recognizing the need to surrender to grief if that is what we are dealing with.

These are good reminders that help us trust God in the trying circumstances of our lives that we are powerless to change.

From my limited experiences in Mali, it seems to me that not being in control is not just a difficult season to be endured, but rather is a way of life for many people.

Unable to effect change in one’s income or living situation, being vulnerable to weather patterns and the whims of people in power, countless people must simply cope with the challenges as they arise: hunger, disease, accidents, violence, death. They arise more often than not.

All the more reason to proclaim the hope that is ours in Jesus Christ – to lean on the one who became one of us and exposed himself to powers that considered him a threat and did their best to eliminate him. He allowed himself to be arrested, tortured, and nailed onto a cross.  He gave over control to wicked and brutal forces for a purpose.

Whether our suffering is temporary or typical, we can look to Jesus, who put himself right alongside us in the ugliness of life.  He knows how it feels to be swept along by fearsome, powerful people who have no interest in our well-being. He did it not just to be sympathetic. He did it to save us from our out-of-control sin. 

Jesus shows us how to yield to each situation, to step back and let God act even if it seems impossible – to resist the urge to do something rash and instead let God do the work in us and around us.

Our strength and our faith come from his cross, where the out-of-control forces tried to kill God but did not succeed.

I don’t want to make light of whatever situation threatens anybody’s sense of control right now. Sometimes it seems like too much, doesn’t it?  But it is not too much for the God who loves us, who promises to bring it all together for our faith and well-being.

This is the good news Jesus offers to us and to those we serve.

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