One of the Five Hard Truths that will set us free is this one: “You are not in control.” This unnerves us, even terrifies us at times. We like to be in control, but control is an illusion; things you think you control are resting on things you cannot control such as the next beat of your heart or even the continued existence of the cosmos! No, we are not in control.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil (James 4:13-16).
This is just another way of saying that we are not in control.
The paradox is that accepting this hard, even terrifying truth is what frees us from many fears and anxieties. Uncertainty is not the deepest source of our anxiety, rather it is our desperate clinging to control and our insistence on our own preferred outcomes. We don’t always (or even usually) know what is best for us. Abandoning ourselves to God’s wisdom and leadership is the only path to true peace. C.S. Lewis wrote,
What are we to make of Christ? … [Rather] it is entirely a question of what he intends to make of us …. Try to retain your own life and you will be inevitably ruined. Give yourself away and you will be saved …. Whatever is keeping you from God … whatever it is, throw it away …. And do not be afraid. I have overcome the whole universe (The Business of Heaven, p. 33).
The only solution is to trust God. Now trusting does not mean assuming God will eventually give what you want. No, trusting is believing that you will be just fine with whatever the Lord wants. Notice that trusting doesn’t necessarily mean jumping for joy at what God decides. What He decides may not turn out to align with our preferred outcome. Most of us prefer health to sickness, wealth to poverty. We want God to say yes to our requests, not no or later. Trusting means being serene and “OK” with what God decides. In this is our path to peace.
All of this is easy to say but hard to do. We need to accept our poverty, our inability to relinquish our illusion of control and trust God. We need to beg for greater trust. Say with the ancient disciple, “I do believe, Lord. Help my unbelief” (Mk 9:24). Say with the apostles, “Lord, increase our faith” (Lk 17:5).
The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Andrew Church in Sag Harbor, N.Y. The feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on June 28 in 2019. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)