When Control is Only An Illusion

Circumstances often prove to us that evil is not so easily managed.     

For instance, it should come as no surprise that not everyone in this world likes you.  Take the coworker who seems nice enough to your face, but behind your back runs you down with malicious gossip.  Or a boss who begins collecting write-ups against you to create a paper trail for your termination (he swears otherwise). There’s the neighbor who keeps reporting you on the sly to the local homeowner’s association for petty infractions (she is unemployed and spends her days watching everything through her front windows).  

These and many other scenarios can leave you feeling helpless, even if you’ve tried to address and diffuse said difficulties with good communication.   

All of this proves you can’t control everything.  You can’t police every word or motive.  Yes, you can try to track down sources of negativity, straighten things out, explain yourself, but often you’ll just end up looking desperately insecure, even paranoid.  

The fact is, you aren’t God.  You’re no good at being omniscient.  You’re lousy at being omnipotent.

But there’s someone who is good at it.  

“You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life” (Lam. 3:58).      

When Jesus died for your sins and redeemed you, He took up your cause.  He paid for your soul with His life.  You now belong to Him.  That means as a possession purchased at great price, He will guard you as carefully as a man might guard a diamond that cost him everything.  As the great Shepherd, Jesus feels personally responsible when someone tries to derail you.  We don’t have to beg him to care.  He already does.

Then what if that unrighteous job termination still takes place?  What if you get unfairly fined by HOA? What if the person who sinned against you continues to do so, no matter what you’ve done to build bridges?  

Well, your affairs are now in the hands of another.  If you try to reacquire them and manage them yourself, you’ll be back at the old failing game of playing God and making a worse mess.  

Besides, the complications of evil not only assail us from without, but from within.

Jesus told us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  Sometimes we ourselves are complicit in sins against our own souls.  We’re not only in danger from hostile third parties–the devil and his human cronies–that threaten your spiritual, psychological, and physical well-being.  Sometimes evil against you is an “insider job,” it has you as an accomplice.    

Paul wrote at the end of 2 Timothy, which was also the end of his life, 

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen”  (4:18).

That’s an odd thing to write, in view of the fact that he knew he was close to martyrdom.  The Roman government was about to do an evil deed, and decapitate him.  God didn’t save Him from that.  Apparently then,  when Paul spoke of the Lord rescuing him from every evil deed, the man knew that even up till his last minute, evil could still conceivably overtake him.  He could very well compromise, lie, manipulate, cheat his way out.  He could still be put to shame, a concern that he had already expressed during an earlier imprisonment (c.f. Phil. 1:20).

But rather than fret over such possible failures, he chose to believe the Lord would bring him safely through to the kingdom.  As a redeemed man, Paul’s cause had been taken up by the Lord, and even in death, he was in better hands than his own.   

When it comes to your situation, however stressful, however painful, your first and final question must always be, “Has He redeemed me?”

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