Trying to Control the Uncontrollable

As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.

It has been incredibly windy outside for the last couple days. From the windows throughout my house I’ve watched all the trees around me being blown about. Their strong branches that seem so strong and sturdy, all of a sudden are bending and swaying as easily as if they were wheat in a field.

Nature of all kinds amaze me. Snowstorms bring travel to a halt. Tornadoes and hurricanes make people board up houses and take shelter. Floods cause evacuations and the search for higher ground.

Yes, nature can cause a lot of damage. But I love that nature is an aspect of God’s power that we really don’t have any impact or control over. We can build stronger houses, hide under umbrellas, and put snow tires on our cars, but we can’t stop the weather from coming. Watching storms roll in is usually a time where I can marvel and remember that God is so mighty and magnificent in his power. He is the only one who could send hailstorms to help Joshua and the Israelite army (Josh. 10:11); make thunder clap loud enough to confuse the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:10); and withhold rain from one town, while giving it to another (Amos 4:7).

Of course, I am only human, and while there are many times where I am glad to hand over the reins to God, sometimes fear and anxiety creep their way back in.

Like a lot of people, living through the COVID-19 pandemic, has been an opportunity for me to re-learn what it means to trust in God’s control. When everything started to shift in Europe and North America, I fluctuated between feeling peace and security in God, and panic.

Because I am currently living in London, England—over 3,500 miles away from my family and friends in Ontario, Canada, it has been stressful being so far apart during this time. It has been hard at times to remember that I am safest staying where I am when I desperately want to run back home.

It is so easy to ignore the facts, and try instead to control whatever aspects of this situation that I can. I’ve considered all the possibilities, researched flights home, even looked for jobs back home. All done in an effort to try and do something about a situation I really can do nothing about.

Why is it so hard to do what God says in Psalm 46:10—“Be still, and know that I am God?”

When I try to worry and control things I just end up more stressed. I also don’t come up with any real solutions. How could I? How could I possibly think I can do anything about the uncontrollable? So I humble myself again, and open up His Word.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer. 29:11).

Oh, how much peace there is in handing over the situation, the worry, and the control to Him and his perfect plans. It’s an everyday struggle to not worry and instead trust in Him. But it is oh so worth it, to receive the gifts He gives when I do surrender to him.

God knew this time was coming. I believe he’s been preparing for it well in advance. Just like how He knew the famine in Egypt would come, and so He orchestrated in his perfect wisdom Joseph’s journey from tending his father’s sheep to working in Pharaoh's household in order to save the lives of many.

Of course, I don’t know God’s plan for all of this. I don’t know when the end of the pandemic will come, how many will continue to suffer, or how many people will lose their loved ones.

My heart goes out to those who have been most impacted by this crisis—those who have lost their loved ones. It’s devastating to watch as the numbers climb every day;  knowing that each number not only represents a person, but an entire family who is now left to grieve.

 In John 13:7 Jesus said, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” I don’t understand what God is doing right now. It’s hard to make sense of it all, so I know that all I can do during this time of great unknowns, when I don’t yet understand, is trust God.

I don’t need to worry and stress, trying to control the uncontrollable. Instead I can remember that the same God who “sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses” (Psalm 135:7) is in control.

About the Author

Courtney Westerhof is a writer and communications professional. She is a Canadian expat currently living in London, England. She is a member of Ancaster Christian Reformed Church. Follow her on Twitter @cmwesterhof.

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