1. With all that’s happening because of the coronavirus, what areas of your life now seem like they’re out of your control? How does this make you feel?
Coaches and athletes mark time more by the sports calendar than the actual calendar. Every year we could count on certain events at certain times: the start of our sports season, March Madness, Opening Day for baseball, the Masters in April… These were always there – until suddenly they weren’t. What seemed like far-fetched rumors just a few weeks ago (“Surely they wouldn’t cancel the NCAA tournament or the spring sports season, would they?!”) are now reality.
This and so much more that’s happened because of the COVID-19 pandemic can leave us feeling like the world is spinning out of control. This is amplified by the fact that we have no idea when, or if, everything will return to “normal.” We much prefer to feel like we’re in control. Coaches and athletes are fond of saying things like “control the controllables.” But what if we’re now feeling like pretty much everything is beyond our ability to control?
Read Psalm 46 and Romans 8:31-39
The antidote to struggling when things feel out of control is surrender: surrender to Jesus. This may strike us as the opposite of what we’re inclined to try to do. When things feel out of control, we try to seize back control – even if this is impossible. We double-down on our efforts to hold tightly to what we think we can control – even if actual “control” of these things is by and large an illusion.
Here’s why surrender is the path forward: there is only one who is truly in control of all things, and it’s not us. God alone is sovereign, which simply means he rules over all and therefore nothing is beyond his authority and control. As Psalm 46 says, he is “the Most High” (v. 5): there is no one greater. He is “the Lord Almighty” or “the Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (vv. 7, 11): he is the all-powerful God who has the armies of heaven at his disposal as he reigns over the universe. Because of this, even when everything feels out of control, we can trust this: “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (v. 1).
So rather than trying to hold onto the illusion of being in control, we entrust ourselves to the Most High God who is sovereign over all. We do this through surrendering to Jesus, God’s Son, who came to make a way for our sin against God to be forgiven so that we can be reconciled to him. We surrender fully to Jesus, releasing control of every part of our lives to him as our Lord and Leader. And we surrender daily to Jesus, living out our commitment to trust and follow him in all things and in every situation.
2. In what specific areas of your life have you been trying to hold onto control? Bring these areas to the Lord, and commit to fully and daily surrendering to him
As we surrender to Jesus, he gives us the gift of true and lasting security – which we so desperately need in times when everything feels out of control. We are secure in knowing that we are completely and unfailingly loved by the Lord, as Paul assures us in Romans 8:38-39:
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We are secure in knowing that we belong to God no matter what has happened or what may come, as Jesus proclaims to us in John 10:27-30:
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.
When everything feels like it is out of control, this is a great reminder of our need to surrender to Jesus and to find our security in him. It is through surrender to Christ that we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is true: “despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37)
3. Read slowly through Romans 8:38-39 again, allowing the Lord to assure you of his unfailing love for you personally. Pray for open eyes to see how Jesus is directing you to share this love with people around you today – especially people who are struggling.
Psalm 46:10-11 –
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.