Powerlessness and April showers

Emily Salerno-Oswald
Scriptural Columnist

The weather. I think by now, we’re all sick of it. March was cold, gray and dreary, and, so far, April is no better, adding only a constant misty rain to the already depressing backdrop.

The weird thing about April is that the weather often can’t decide what it wants to be. We will get a snow shower followed by sunlight a half hour later. Or, we’ll get sunshine and rain at the same time in different parts of the sky.

I think a major part of what bothers most people about this sort of weather is that they can’t predict it. It is inconsistent and cumbersome because we have no control over it.

One doesn’t know whether to wear a winter coat and snow boots to class or whether a rain jacket and umbrella would be more appropriate or if they’ll find themselves not needing a jacket at all by the end of the day.

In the grand scheme of things, these little nuisances related to the weather are just that: annoyances that are persistent but are, ultimately, pretty insignificant. However, they serve to demonstrate the lack of patience we humans have for things that we cannot control.

I’ve often heard my mom talk about the importance of embracing our powerlessness. She doesn’t talk about this in a defeatist type of way, as if we should just give up on life, but instead as a way of summing up the concept of surrender.

Over time, I have realized that surrender is often falsely defined as “giving up control” or “giving things over to God.”

If we were to more accurately define surrender, we’d have to consider that we can’t “give up” control, because we simply don’t have it. Rather, we can either accept that we don’t have control or live in denial, constantly striving to fight against this reality.

Therefore, I believe that surrender is more like a synonym for humility, or recognizing where you truly stand in relation to God, the only one who has true control.

Accepting our position in relation to God means that we come to terms with how powerless we are and thus are able to stop letting our lack of control bother us. This is more easily said than done, and the only way it can be successfully done is through a unique combination of trust and God’s grace.

First, we will talk about trust.

In theory, we should be able to find comfort in the belief that God is in control. However, when our own powerlessness becomes glaringly clear in our lives, it can be frightening to accept that God is in control if we haven’t already accepted that God is trustworthy.

People don’t want to think about their lives being run by someone they don’t trust. That would be more resemblant of a nightmare than a source of freedom and peace. This is why the process of learning to trust God is essential to the process of surrender.

Trust comes over time as we experience and encounter more and more instances of God’s all-encompassing love. We need to believe that he loves us before we can trust that he wants what is best for us.

Next, comes God’s grace. God’s grace helps us to obey and pursue what God has in store for us rather than rebelling at every turn.

Now, I should mention that we do have a degree of control over our lives in the fact that God gave us intellect and free will. For this reason, we have the ability to choose whether we want to align ourselves with his will or not. However, his will will be done, no matter what, so if we choose otherwise, we will only be fighting the inevitable, which is to no end – other than our own destruction.

Perhaps this seems like a trap. Choose God’s will and gain life or go against God’s will and gain destruction. Some might ask: is this even a choice at all?

But it is indeed a choice. The choice is: will I acknowledge God as God, or will I try to be my own “god”? It is the same choice that faced Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and, sadly, they made the wrong choice. We are all guilty of choosing to go against God at one point or another because this is the nature of sin.

However, God’s grace helps us to resist our tendency to rebel, and it saves us from ruining things for ourselves.

An essential thing to realize in all of this is that God is not a tyrant who gets his way no matter what solely for the sake of getting his way. He is love, and everything that he does is an effort toward working all things for our good (1 John 4:16; Romans 8:28).

He’s not trying to control us in the times when he doesn’t let us have our way; he’s trying to show us that our way probably isn’t what’s best for us, not in a patronizing way, but in a fatherly way. He’s trying to keep us from working against ourselves.

So, the next time you find yourself trying to do something your way, and you realize that it’s simply not working, stop and ask yourself if God might be trying to tell you something.

Powerlessness, like the weather in April, is not necessarily a bad thing. It works to remind us that we are not God. We don’t have control, and, even though it’s frustrating sometimes, it’s ultimately a good thing. For, just as April’s rain brings flowers in May, so too does accepting our powerlessness and lack of control bring blossoms of life in our lives.

When we take God’s path, we recognize that we are powerless alone, but we are infinitely powerful through His power at work in us. Moreover, just like the first sprouts of flowers pop up unexpectedly in the spring, when we accept that God has control, we open ourselves up to being pleasantly surprised by him in the least expected of ways.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. … For when I am weak, then I am strong,” says 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose,” says Romans 8:28.

“Being confident of this … he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus,” says Philippians 1:6.

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