This may sound weird, but I always cringe a little when people say, “Just give it up to God,” or “Let go and let God.” I get what they’re saying and at the 40,000 foot view it’s exactly right. But when people are in crisis, letting go and giving the pain up to God just isn’t that simple.
One of the biggest barriers is the fact that in crisis, someone may actually have lost trust in God, which makes it impossible just to turn around and give your problems to Him. Here’s why.
As Christians, most of us rightly trust God to prosper us and not harm us, and to provide and protect us. That’s what scripture says and that’s what preachers preach. So when something bad happens to us – usually someone doing something bad or even evil where we become the victim – we naturally ask why God didn’t protect us as He said He would. This is a tricky space to live in and one in which it is easy to lose trust or even blame God for our circumstances.
I think intellectually we know that this isn’t true. We know that God did not do anything to us or cause our situation, and that we are where we are because someone acted out in their free will, disobeying God’s commands and hurting us. But emotionally we say to ourselves, “Yes, but God allowed it, so He is someone I can’t trust, because He allows me to get hurt.” This may be especially true when our fallen bodies contract an illness, such as cancer.
Trust – or lack thereof – is a deal breaker. If I can’t trust someone, our entire relationship is off. When we can’t trust God, we tend to push Him out of our lives. We stop talking with Him, we stop relying on Him, we stop listening to Him, and sometimes we even feel betrayed by Him and are angry with Him.
So how do you regain trust with God when you feel as if He’s complicit in your pain?
First, you need to work through intellectually and emotionally that God did not do anything to you. Yes, He allowed something to happen, but just like He can’t take away your free will, He couldn’t take away the free will of the person who transgressed against you. Yes, it sucks, but God didn’t cause the problem, someone else did. Don’t project your pain, disappointment, and emotions against God. Instead, understand who God is in your relationship and follow his instructions to forgive the person who transgressed so that you are not a slave to that person’s actions.
If you’re struggling with the pain of a terminal illness, again understand intellectually and emotionally that this also is not God’s fault, it’s actually man’s fault! When we sinned originally, our perfect bodies became imperfect. We get diseases and die. This was not God’s plan, but happened because of our sin. This also sucks – I didn’t sin originally yet I’m stuck with a sin nature, a fallen body, and the consequences of it all. It just doesn’t seem fair, but it is what it is and it’s not God’s doing. We have to get to a place in our lives where we accept this fact.
Second, look back over your life and see where God was at various times. Write it down and see how God’s hand works in your life. I think you will see that God never abandoned you – even in the worst circumstances – and that instead He walked by your side every step of the way. If you see that, you can understand that He’s doing it now, too, even when you’re mad at Him. Nobody can every snatch you from His hand and He will always love you.
Third, it helps if you realize how much God trusts you! See, God knew you before the beginning of the world. He knew everything you would do, every sin you would commit, every knuckleheaded decision you would make yet He still created you on purpose! He trusts you to be in relationship with Him. He trusts you with your free will to make good decisions. And He trusts you that you will come to Him when you screw up and make it right. Scripture tells us that we love because God first loved us. I would propose that we can trust God because he first trusted us.
Lastly, you have to get over yourself. It’s not about you. You may be hurting so you are a little self-focused, defensive, and scared of being hurt again. But the creator of the universe – the God of the heavens and the Earth – wants to have a relationship with you! He wants to help heal you! He wants to be by your side and get you through this! Stop being a brat and go to the one person who actually can keep His promise and ease your suffering! Let’s admit it, we sometimes like wallowing in our pain. Some even like being the victim, because of all the attention they get. It’s time to grow up a bit and focus on God instead of ourselves. When our hearts are broken we need to go to the person who created our hearts. When our souls are in distress, we need to go the person who gave us our souls. But we can’t do that when we are focused on ourselves. I tell people in crisis, “Look up, don’t look down.” God is your answer not your enemy.
I hope I’m not that guy telling people to give it up to God or to let go and let God. But I do hope I’m that person telling folks that God is not the problem here, He is the solution.