Many Christians have experienced tough times. Perhaps they’ve just been diagnosed with a chronic illness, or a family member is dying, or they’ve suddenly lost a job, or are feeling like their life is in limbo, or whatever else; when another well-meaning Christian puts a hand on their shoulder and says with conviction, “Take heart. God is in control.”
How true is that statement, really? The Bible seems to tell conflicting tales. The Israelites went through extraordinary periods of being in God’s grace and then out of it; from persecution to exile, to return to God’s promise and back again, and the Old Testament blames this cycle not on God’s lack of power, but on the fickle hearts of the Israelites themselves. Thus causing Christians in this day and age to often blame the struggles we face on either our own fickleness or the sins of our forefathers.
Is that fair?
The New Testament also tells the story of the man who was blind from birth. When asked whose sin resulted in his blindness, Christ replied that it was so that God’s glory could be shown. Which causes modern Christians to ask, “am I being tried for my sins, or is this simply to show God’s glory?”
Is THAT fair?
There’s also the fallen nature of our world. In the Old Testament, when Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden, not only were they and their offspring cursed, but the labor of their hands and the fruit of the earth, and even the insects and animals were cursed. Which causes Christians to ask, “am I simply a victim of the fallen nature of this planet?”
What is true? Is God in control, and do we shun His control with our own hard hearts? Is He in control and allowing us to suffer, to later demonstrate His glory? Is the world simply still under the curse of sin and death, and we are victims of it?
But, wait… we have Christ, right? Which means the curse is broken, isn’t it? Well, it may be broken for those who believe in Christ, but not for the entire planet, is that right? God’s Kingdom hasn’t come, has it?
But we are here, we are faithful, we are bringing the Kingdom… so isn’t God in control?
The logic circles onward and the logic circles inward. Like at the end of C.S. Lewis’s, The Last Battle, we must answer the call to follow further up and further in.
All I know is that I trust my own heart and life are in God’s hands, and He is as in control of my own faith as much as I will allow Him to be. And I do have hope, as foolish and pointless as it may be, I still have hope. I believe that I will see God’s love in my life, I believe that as bleak and hopeless as it all may seem, I will experience joy. I believe it because I have seen God’s faithfulness in my own life. Not that my life has been “blessed” or “fortuitous” – far from it. But has God been there? To me, He has, without a doubt. Was He in Control? I don’t know.
But He was there.
So next time you feel the urge to extend a hand of comfort, next time you hear the religious conviction tone in your voice, pause for a moment and choose your words with care. Perhaps we shouldn’t throw out the words “God is in control” so carelessly. Instead, choose to say,
“God is with you. So am I.”
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: LYDIA SELK
Photographer Lydia Selk lives in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. She is an artist and photographer who took the time to look for beauty and says that now beauty is all she can see.
Last 5 posts by Lindsey Kay
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