It’s Easier to Trust God When You’re In Control

It's Easier to Trust God When You're In Control

Photo: ©Pexels from pixabay via

It’s easier to trust God when you’re in control of things than when you’re out of control and you’re unsure what will happen next. Being in control provides you with a sense of security, confidence, and comfort, albeit it’s man-made. The downside to this human-centered worldview is that it’s misplaced faith. God calls us to trust Him, not our circumstances. He is the object of our faith, not preferred outcomes. Because of our loyalty to self-reliance, He may push us beyond our preferences and predictions to teach us to rely on Him.

You may want to read:

God for a Day

I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

Self-sufficiency is an illusionary lifestyle that puts us at odds with God—to the point that He may have to intervene in our lives to push us beyond our natural abilities. God wants us to put a governor on our desire to control our lives so we don’t think we can function without Him. We forfeited the right to have absolute authority over our lives at regeneration. We surrendered our lives to Him as the supreme ruler. The biblical logic is clear: the Lord can manage things better than we can.

Before Adam sinned, he had no problem relying on God. He lived with God, loved God, and knew God’s love for him. It was a big beautiful world that Adam lived in, and he enjoyed it. He relied on God alone. There was seemingly nothing he could not do as a God-reliant man. Then the snake entered the Garden and fed Adam a lie through his wife, Eve (Genesis 3:1-6). The snake told Adam he could compete with God by being a god. Adam and Eve believed the lie, creating two possibilities. He could rely on God when necessary and rely on himself, too. How cool would it be to be a god for a day, a week, or a lifetime? That was the temptation.

Adam bit the forbidden fruit and got what he wanted: his world was under new management. His eyes opened to see things differently, and running his life was his new vocation. Some things have not changed, have they? Today’s culture is without God. They believe they have figured it out. Their internal logic tells them to be all they can be to survive in our big bad world. The mandate is to look out for number one, rely on yourself, and even manipulate others to serve personal agendas. Of course, at some level of their hearts, everyone knows what Adam quickly learned: it’s all a lie. Adam could not manage the world in which he lived. Any person who chooses not to trust God will have a similar fearful tension and fate.

I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself (Genesis 3:10).

Time to Downsize

Adam soon realized self-reliance was not cracked up to be what he thought it would be. He had to downsize. Living with omnipotence expanded the possibilities to limitless proportions. His choice to walk away from God meant he had to whittle his world down to bite-size pieces because he could not control what God could; he needed something more manageable. Trusting Jehovah did not necessitate a smallish world. Rejecting God to become a god required thinking small. Being a god was not as easy as Adam thought. Though he used to walk with God in big open places, he now lived in a miniature, defiled version of what things used to be (Psalm 18:19).

Adam chose a world of his own making. It was a microcosm inside of the macrocosm. Knowing that there was something wrong with his new life without God, Adam became afraid. Fear is the typical instigator when we feel a bit out of control. As things continue to escape our ability to manage, we start making excuses for why they are the way they are. Adam’s fear motivated him to blame, justify, rationalize, and even escape his surroundings. His cluster of collective sins is common for controllers. Do you recognize Adam’s new best friends forever? Have you ever fallen prey to any of them?

God came to Adam, asking him what he had done, and Adam did not want to be honest by admitting his mistake. God called him out for lying, asking him to trust Him—again. He even provided a means for Adam to do so (Genesis 3:15). God has provided us a means to do this too. His name is Jesus, the Crusher of the serpent’s head (John 3:7). We were little gods, regenerated by God, that He called us to forego the little worlds of our making. We did this gladly, knowing that becoming a Christian meant relinquishing our rights to God while trusting Him.

Rick's Books on Amazon

Out of Control

All we have to do is give up our rights and accept Him as our God (Romans 10:9). Simple enough, right? Perhaps you have done this. Maybe you have relinquished your rights to being a god and decided to live your life for the true and living God. I hope you have, though there will be continual tension in your relationship with Him. We live in a body that is fallen and quickly lured toward the things of this world (1 John 2:15-16). The daily temptation is to revert to our former manner of life, those comfort zones of being our god where we are in control. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe God sets things up in your life so you can’t control them?

Have you ever wondered if God purposely did things to you so you would learn to stop relying on yourself? Parents will do this for their children. They create a controlled context where the child might not succeed, hoping to instill one of his most important lessons; he’s not omnipotent. Ceasing from self-trust was God’s appeal to Adam. Paul understood this and taught the Corinthians how suffering leads to God-reliance. He knew their tendency because it was his tendency too. He knew that if a person could get away with it, he would reduce his world to something manageable, making themselves god, never relying on anyone, including the Almighty.

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

My Comfort Zone

Paul did not primarily see the trouble that came to him as a negative thing but as God’s love. He understood his prideful tendencies and how he needed prodding to break the Adamic struggle of self-reliance. Even though he despaired of life, which is hard to imagine, he realized the merciful love of God, who wanted Paul to rely on someone more dependable. The sketch in this chapter represents an actual drawing I drew for a couple I was counseling. I hoped to teach them about their sinful tendencies toward self-reliance that were killing their marriage. The goal was to point them to their real need—to rely on God, who raises the dead.

Self Reliance Worship Structure01

As you see in the picture, they desired to live within their comfort zones—the things they could do well, nearly ensuring a failure-free life. Each person’s comfort zone differs depending on their desires, cravings, dreams, hopes, or expectations. Of course, their strengths and God-given abilities must cooperate with their aspirations. In my counseling situation, the couple had hoped for a particular life together. As long as circumstances met their expectations as they engineered or manipulated the outcome, it kept them in control, and all was well. The problem with self-sufficient thinking is that it does not require authentic trust in God. It is a little god in charge of a small world.

Self-reliance is idolatry because people rely on themselves to acquire and control whatever outcome they desire. Self-sufficiency is a worship disorder. God will never allow His children to live with a worship dysfunction. He demands exclusive worship, which is the child of God trusting, relying upon, having confidence, believing, and hoping in Him alone. The Lord could not be more explicit in Exodus 20:3, saying, “You shall have no other gods before me.” God will not let us get away with idolatrous thinking and practices. God calls all former little gods—you and me—to trust the true and living God. There is nothing beyond His means that He may choose to use to move us from self-reliance to God-reliance.

Resist and Regret

Paul called it “beyond our strength.” If you don’t have this kind of God-centered perspective on suffering, you will despair of life, like Paul. You will also be wrestling with the Lord (James 4:6). Typically, the initial sin of a controlling person is the same as the sin of Adam: it is unbelief. You and I sin similarly (Mark 9:24). When our world becomes unwieldy, our first response is not to trust God; other sins like anxiety, worry, or fear follow. You see this in the sketch.

God was moving the couple out of their comfort zone to a place they could not manage, so they would learn to quit relying on themselves and trust Him, who raised the dead. It would be best to trust God when things get out of control—a fantastic response. However, little god controllers typically do what they have habituated themselves into doing most of their lives: they rely on themselves. Self-reliance is their habit; if things are getting out of control, they default to their practice before they will trust God. Of course, their habituation does not work. It creates more dysfunction—personal and relational.

The two most typical ways a person resorts to regain control of his world are anger and escape. Anger is the most common habit for controllers. It’s a manipulative tactic for an insecure person to regain control of the world he feels he is losing. Forms of manipulative anger are anything from rage to the silent treatment, criticism, blaming, justification, and rationalization. Escaping is the dumbing-down habit for controllers. Rather than dealing with the problems, they seek to escape from the problems. Various escapes are alcohol, medication, spending money, video games, TV/movies, and overeating.

Leaders Over Coffee Web Banner

Gospel Solution

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

It is interesting how Paul addressed the solution to the problem. He said he learned to trust God, who raises the dead. While you already know what the answer should be—trust God—it is instructive he would frame the solution in resurrection language. Paul used specific words to communicate the solution. He said they needed to trust the God who raises the dead. He could have said to trust Christ, believe in the cross, hope in the gospel, or any other descriptor that pointed to trusting Almighty God.

He chose the resurrection as how to think about God’s ability. He wanted them to know the gospel was more than a man dying on a tree. The gospel is also a man coming out of the grave. He wanted them to think about God’s powerful ability in the direst circumstances. Targeting this particular aspect of the gospel is essential for us to understand. You may have a lot of capacity, competency, and courage, but you cannot bring anyone out of the grave. Only God can raise the dead. What He can do for us is far superior to anything we have ever thought about doing for ourselves.

Call to Action

Yes, we can die for someone, but we cannot raise someone from the grave (Romans 5:7). Paul put God in a unique category. Now it’s up to us.

  1. Will you trust Him? What does it mean to trust God, practically speaking? What is an area of your life that you do not want to yield control?
  2. Will you learn how to rely on Him? What would you say if you were to explain to someone what it meant to rely on God? What are the specifics, the steps, and the process?
  3. Are there any aspects of self-reliance operative in you? What is your plan for repentance?

One-time repentance will not be enough. Self-reliance is a habituation, a practice. You are going to need help. One of the best things a self-reliant person could do is humble himself by letting others know about his sin and seek their help. Other reliance is a good start that will help anyone overcome self-reliance.

Need More Help?

  1. If you want to learn more from us, you may search this site for thousands of resources—articles, podcasts, videos, graphics, and more. Please spend time studying the ones that interest you. They are free.
  2. If you want to talk to us, we have private forums for those who support this ministry financially. Please consider supporting us here if you would like to help us keep our resources free.

Mastermind Program Web Ready Banner

Print Friendly, PDF & Email