by Lydia Floren
We have all heard the saying, “If you want something done right, you better do it yourself.” But is that really true? Are you really the best person to fix every problem?
Think about it. If your car is mechanically failing, are you going to watch a You-Tube video and pull out your wrench and start taking the engine apart? If you have appendicitis, are you going to check Wikipedia, climb up on the kitchen table, get the butcher knife out, and whack away? I don’t think so. You, like me, are going to find the best expert available, and trust them to take care of things.
So, why are we so quick to take things into our own hands, when it comes to matters of faith?
Sure, we will trust a surgeon to take out our appendix and handle any post-op complications. And, we will wait patiently for the best mechanic to fix our car properly.
But in difficult situations, especially those that don’t resolve promptly, we are quick to lose faith in God, who happens to be the best disaster-management expert in the universe.
Here’s an all-too-frequent scenario from my life:
1. I feel pain. This may be a physical pain, but often it is an emotional one, such as an unpleasant interaction that leaves me feeling wronged or slighted. I’m not talking about the momentary unpleasantness that happens, say, when someone cuts me off in traffic. I’m talking about an ongoing dilemma, like a difficult relationship or an uncomfortable work situation, or a chronic health issue.
2. I get restless. If the uncomfortable situation doesn’t resolve quickly (which for me is more than about 5 minutes) I get antsy. I don’t like pain. It needs to go away.
3. I pray….maybe. (sometimes I skip this step.) I tell God, as if He didn’t know, exactly what my situation is, and politely ask Him to take care of it. Before long (say, about 5 minutes), if nothing seems to be happening, I stomp my foot. “Why don’t you do something about this, God? Don’t you see what is happening here?” Pretty soon, I start demanding, “God, get me out of this! Make this go away! NOW!”
“…or else,” I whisper to myself, “I may just have to do it myself.”
4. I decide it’s up to me. Here’s what goes thru my head: “Somehow, God has missed the boat here. Maybe He isn’t seeing how much pain I am in. Or maybe He sees it but just doesn’t matter to Him. Fine. Whatever. I’ll just handle it myself. After all, ‘if you want something done right, you better do it yourself.’ Isn’t that in the Bible somewhere?”
5. I do my own thing. I try to eliminate the hurt (or the cause of it) myself. Here are a few ways I might do this typically by reverting to old coping mechanisms:
- Avoiding. I dodge the person or situation that is causing me to feel this pain.
- Complaining. I make sure that not only God, but everyone around me knows how unjustly I have been treated.
- Manipulating. I try to manage or control the situation so the pain will stop, or at least lessen.
- Self-indulging. I “treat myself” with something to take my mind off the pain. (Sort of an adult version of thumb-sucking.) My favorite “pacifier” is food, particularly chocolate. For others, it might be alcohol, surfing the net, working, shopping.
As you can imagine, when I take things into my own hands, they don’t turn out so well. Avoiding, complaining, manipulating and self-indulgence don’t make things better – they make them worse.
In Psalm 40:1-3, David said
I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.
Are you in the middle of a difficult situation? Do you feel like God is not doing enough? Not doing anything? For heaven’s sake, don’t make my mistake and try to take things into your own hands. You will only make matters worse. Trust me, you will be sooooo much better off, if you choose to keep your focus squarely on God, waiting patiently for His strength and direction.
Just remember: God is the best disaster-management expert in the universe.
Rest assured: He will unfailingly pull you up out of your mess and put your feet back on solid ground.