What do you do when things that are utterly out of your control go wrong? It happens. Sometimes we feel like we’re having “one of those days” and sometimes too, we feel like “things” have been that way for years. What should we do? How should we act?
Now of course, some of life’s problems can be remedied. As human beings and as Christians we can exert influence upon the course of events and when we can, we ought to accept the responsibility we have for affecting “things” for good. But I’m talking about those things that go wrong that are out of our control. What do we do? What should we do?
Don’t get upset.
The first thing not to do is get upset. Easier said than done, but the fact is, when we get upset over such uncontrollable things, we only injure ourselves (stress and worry are unhealthy), and we may end up hurting someone else in the process of our anger and frustration.
While you might not be able to control the situation, stop the chaos, or end the pain, you can control your reaction.
Accept what has happened.
Second, accept the fact of what has happened. Facts are facts. What’s done is done. Spilled milk, Humpty Dumpty, etc. Accept the reality of what has happened, even if you don’t like it.
Have you noticed we live with this illusion that we can control everything? Why else would we need apps and devices that close our garage doors and turn off our lights when we aren’t there, remind us of our flights 24 hours in advance, and send us notifications every time someone likes our posts on Facebook? We don’t like getting caught off guard. We don’t like missing out. We worship the idol of control.
Children are a wonderful remedy to this idol. You can’t control children no matter how hard you try because they have their own wills. You can discipline, teach, model, and pray, but in the end when they leave your home and enter adulthood, they’re out of your hands. Children are just an example. This world – a world whose complexities are compounded by its fallenness and corruption – is a place where many things are not within our control.
Trust the Lord.
Third, while not all things that happen are good, the fact is that the Lord knows all that has happened, and what has happened, he can use. We must trust him. We must believe that his ultimate intentions toward us and for us are good and meaningful. We see this truth clearly in Romans 8:28:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Life of course can still be very painful. It’s filled with disappointment, evil, and tragedy. But still we must trust him. His ways are higher than our ways; our wisdom is but foolishness before him. Come what may, we must entrust ourselves and all our days unto Him, “for the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His faithfulness endures to all generations.” (Psalms 100:5)
For Young Adults
While this blog is applicable to all stages of life, I want to point out some specific ways a young adult could apply this today.
- Learn now to control your temper when things don’t go your way. Only a fool gives full vent to his anger (see Proverbs 29:11).
- Recognize where you’re grasping for control. I encourage students to have big dreams and chase them, but some things aren’t going to work out as you expect. You might not get accepted to your first choice of school. You might get passed over for the dream job. And your plans of finding your future spouse and getting married by a specific age are not guaranteed. Plans change every day. You can only do so much. Do what you can, and give the rest to the Lord.
- When you do have some influence in a situation, use it for the glory of God.
Has something already gone wrong? You can read Dealing with Disappointment in College Life.
Blog edited by Joannah Buffington