For the Times You Think You're in Control
"Hey Brad, hand me a pencil please, will you?" I asked, interrupting the quiet. "I need to stab my eye out."
I'd just read online that yet another fellow writer had landed a book deal – a two-book deal, no less, with a major, New York City-based publisher. And I'd had it. Frustrated and bitter with my lack of progress in the publishing field, I was ready to quit. Or at the very least stab my eye out with a sharp pencil.
Then, just two days later, my agent called with good news. She had a project for me – not the book deal I dreamed of, but a fabulous writing project nonetheless. I hung up the phone and twirled into the kitchen, but even before I could announce my big news, Brad said this: "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away."
I give the man credit – Brad didn't dare quote this verse from Job when I was in the throes of the Lord taketh away. He only mentioned it at the announcement of good news, and not to throw a wet blanket on my party, but to remind me that God, and God alone, is in control.
Brad knows I forget that sometimes. Or I try to forget it, at least. Frankly, I like to be in control. I like to think I'm managing this tenuous writing career; I like to pretend that I'm making this all happen on my own. I like to imagine that if I work hard enough and push long enough, I can make a book deal happen.
Deep down, though, I know that's simply not true. Deep down I know that real faith requires obedience and surrender, that God is the master planner, not me.
And I think that's exactly what Hannah realizes in the verses we read from 1 Samuel this week.
Her prayer begins as thanksgiving for the face that God has accomplished the impossible in blessed Hannah with a child after years of infertility.
But then Hannah's prayer shifts into an entirely different tone, as she says this:
The Lord gives both death and life;
he brings some people down to the grave but
raises others up.
The Lord makes some poor and others rich;
he brings some down and lifts others up...
For all the earth is the Lord's,
and he has set the world in order ( 1 Samuel 2:6-8, NLT)
For me, the last two lines are key: For all the earth is the Lord's, and he has set the world in order.
Hannah bargained with God in order to be able to bear a child – she took the matter into her own hands, her own control, and made a deal with God. In the end, though, her prayer illustrates that she has come to a deeper understanding of her relationship with God. Hannah understands that Samuel was offered to her as an undeserved gift, rather than a reward for her tenacious prayers.
With these words, Hannah reminds me that the Earth, along with everything and everyone on it, was created by God. He rules over it...and us. And he—not we—sets the world in order.
Questions for Reflection:
- Are you struggling to control something that should be left in God's hands?
- How can you move from a place of controlling to distrust to surrendering trust?
Lord, help me trust you. You know how much I like to control my life. Help me relinquish that control and know and trust that You, and only You, can set the world in perfect order. Amen.