When You’re Not In Control…

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If there’s one thing that’s been made clear over the last few weeks, it’s that we’re not in control as much as we often like to think we are.

Like many people, I’ve spent a lot of time watching or reading news reports this week trying to keep up with the latest on Hurricane Irma.  Even from thousands of miles away, it’s been on my mind a lot.  I have a “real life” friend in Florida as well as a few online friends and as I have followed their stories of buying supplies, boarding up their homes, and evacuating, I have felt helpless.  I have prayed a lot, but I’ve wished there was something more I could do.

If I’m honest I’ve wished I could cause the hurricane to lose its power, or to veer off into the sea.

A friend shared this video showing an explanation of the hurricane by Alabama meteorologist Alan Sealls.  Many praised him for his clear, calm, and concise and explanation of what was happening in the midst of the panicked and sensational coverage elsewhere.

What stood out to me from his explanation was his statement that “The models don’t control the weather.  That’s the attempt to keep up with what’s going on, calculate and regenerate another projection.”    He explains more detail about the projections at that time and goes on to reiterate: “Whatever this says doesn’t control the storm.”

Maybe unnecessary.  Surely people didn’t really believe that the meteorologists could actually control the path of the hurricane?

We’d like to though, wouldn’t we?  Or is that just me?

There’s something very uncomfortable about sitting from afar, watching a force of destruction approach and feeling powerless.  Even the people on the ground have little power.  They can protect their property with sandbags and storm shutters, they can board up windows and gather supplies, they can evacuate and get to a safe place, but they can’t stop the storm.

Only God can stop the storm.

And I don’t know why he didn’t.  I don’t know why Houston had to be devastated by Hurricane Harvey, why Hurricane Irma had to leave such a trail of destruction across the Caribbean, why, even as I type, Florida is being hammered.

As I ponder this, my thoughts go back to August 2014, when I sat helpless, watching another storm, wondering why God didn’t stop it.

This one was not a hurricane, but a situation in the life of a friend.  There had been plenty of storm warnings- losing weight, avoiding eating, obsessing over the number of calories in certain types of food.  I, and others, had noticed it going too far and had tried to warn her, but the storm of anorexia was too strong.

After a few years, the situation seemed to be improving.  Her weight had increased and she looked healthier, but it seems it was only the calm at the eye of the storm because then the depression took hold, and the suicide attempts began.

I remember vividly the moment when I received yet another text from my friend, speaking in graphic detail of her suicidal feelings, and I realised that I was completely powerless.  I was over an hour away and there was no-one closer I could call for help.  Even if she didn’t do it this time, it had been going on for several weeks, and I felt I would never be free of the fear that she might do it next time.

It was also the moment when I seriously questioned whether I could trust God.  He was the only one who could stop this storm, and yet still it raged.  If the worst happened, could I continue to trust him?

Honestly, I wasn’t sure.

The months that followed were a time of extreme anxiety.  I was struggling to sleep, I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  I didn’t consciously choose to turn away from God, but I was finding it hard to read the Bible or to pray, and I felt that my faith was slipping away.  It felt that I, too, was caught in the middle of a storm that I couldn’t control.

Fortunately, before I slipped too far, I was challenged that in the midst of all I couldn’t understand or control, there was one important choice I could make:

I couldn’t control the storm, but I could choose where to go for refuge.

I could keep fighting on my own, trying to hold back the storm in my own strength, exhausting myself trying to be responsible for everyone and everything, or I could let go and turn to God and look to him for refuge, despite my doubts and questions.

I knew that was the better choice.  Despite my struggle to understand what God was doing (or not doing), I knew I was better with him than without him.

He doesn’t always calm the storm, but he provides a safe place to hide.

Three years on, my friend is still here.  The storm has definitely been downgraded significantly but it remains a threat.  And I still struggle for control at times, especially when I see her, and others I care about, caught in storms I wish I could stop.

But I’ve also found there is peace in letting go, in running to God, in confessing that we can’t stop the storm and we don’t understand why he doesn’t, but choosing to trust him, realising that, in the end, he is our only hope.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my Saviour; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.  He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”  (Psalm 18:2 NLT)

Praying for all of you who have been affected by the recent hurricanes.  If there are specific ways I can be praying for you, either because of that or because of other “storms” you’re facing, please let me know.

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43 thoughts on “When You’re Not In Control…

  1. This is SO good, Lesley. Just this morning I sent off these words to two dear friends, who are in a storm, but who I have seen God tethering strong and being a POWERFUL testimony to the world of God’s Presence in awful pain:

    Whoever loses His life for my sake will find it:

    – lose control = God’s control
    – lose quiet and peace = God’s peace
    – lose self-image = God’s image
    – lose honor = God’s honor
    – lose pride = God’s pride
    – lose safe = God’s safe
    – lose perfect = God’s perfection

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Anna! So true, we don’t like losing control, peace etc. but it’s only when we stop relying on ourselves for these things that we can truly find them in God.

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  2. I think these storms are awful things the Lord will use to shake His people awake to His power in our weakness. We don’t willingly seek it ourselves, but He takes us there, not to hurt us, but to bless us. May your friend grow in God’s strength, peace and hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lesley, I had to share this especially “I couldn’t control the storm, but I could choose where to go for refuge.” Amen. Thanks for the honest story and approach. I wish I could control storms too- these crazy huge ones tearing homes and lives apart and those in loved one’s hearts and bodies. I am glad, though, that I can’t…the reality is, I wouldn’t know how to or what’s really best even if I did have the power! Thank the Lord He knows and He works all for good- even all that we face and witness that is so horrible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bethany! It’s so true- when I think about it I really don’t want that kind of power or control and I wouldn’t know what to do with it! I just think I want it at times! It is much better to leave it in God’s hands.

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  4. As a momma, I think some of my hardest storms to watch will be when my kids are struggling as adults. That’s still a ways off as my oldest of 3 is 5, but I can’t help but worry over it. But you are SO right, Christ is our only hope and our only refuge in times like these.

    Beautiful words!

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  5. Thank you for this needed reminder, Lesley. I need a daily reminder that God is still in control. It’s so hard to let go of our anxiety over suffering we are helpless to stop. To leave it all in the hands of Jesus. But as you say, we can choose where to find our refuge. It’s a hard lesson to learn to praise God IN the storm, isn’t it? I always love that song. I’m so glad your friend is still here with us. May God heal all her hurts! Blessings and hugs to you!

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  6. Wow, Lesley. How hard to go through that with a friend. The storms have reminded me also that I’m not in control. And yes, I have a loved one far away that I struggle with worry over. I’m choosing to let go of control and trust God to take control and care for her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is tough when we see someone we love struggling, and not always easy to admit we’re not in control. Praying that you are able to keep trusting God with your loved one’s situation.

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  7. What a hard, hard lesson! I think we took a page out of the same book this week Lesley. It’s amazing how we’re all drawn together in the face of a storm. Worry, reassurance, healing. You encourage me with your stories, open and God-inspired week after week. I’m so thankful that you’ve been so generous to share them at GritUp, that you said yes to the invitation. Connections with writers like you keep me going when the call gets tough and/or lonely. Praying for you and this ministry each week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I was reading your post about the same time you were reading mine, and I did spot the similar theme!
      Thanks for your encouragement too, and for hosting the linkup. It’s been great to connect with you!

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  8. Lesley,this is such a powerful post! I have walked with friends in storms that God could have prevented, or at least lessened. I love your perspective of maybe not being in control, but that we. An control where we seek refuge. So true!

    I am glad your friend is still here.

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  9. Lesley, “But I’ve also found there is peace in letting go, in running to God, in confessing that we can’t stop the storm and we don’t understand why he doesn’t, but choosing to trust him, realising that, in the end, he is our only hope.” God has been transforming my spirit in the last year. I’ve spent many years being a “storm chaser.” After a spiral into a mental breakdown a few months ago, I realized that I had to let go. Only Jesus has the ability to calm the storms. Even if it does not happen according to our expectations. What a great way of weaving the current storm season into our wrestling with those that surround us daily.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Letting go is not easy. It’s tempting to cling to our own expectations, but it is better to let go and trust God even when we don’t understand. Praying for you as you continue to hand it over to God. Thanks for visiting today.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m in Georgia and have had some family members evacuate to us. I have definitely wished I could control it as I sat and watched news! But I have to remember God is the best judge of what happens. He has all the details and is the only One who cares about what happens to us all!

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  11. So glad there’s improvement with your friend, Lesley. It’s so comforting when we actually stop and remember we’re not alone, that there is One who is with us–who is truly in control. It’s not always our first instinct to remember that though, is it? — That song was a great comfort to me years ago when it came out and we were going through a storm of our own. Thank you for sharing. Prayers for your friend. ((Hug))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Brenda! I appreciate your prayers. It does bring a lot of comfort to remember that God is truly in control and that even when we face storms he cares for us and walks with us through them.

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  12. When this first posted we were some of the ones taking shelter from Irma and experiencing a stretch of a power outage even from a distance we thought would be safe. We are now watching Hurricane Maria and wondering how our prayers will be answered. This post spoke to much of my inner struggle these days. Why have our prayers for so many been answered with a no or are we not seeing the real answer? Thank you for your words of hope and faith. I need all I can get.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Debby, I’m glad it encouraged you. I just heard about Hurricane Maria on the news this morning. It must be horrible to be facing this uncertainty again so soon after Irma. Praying for you and others in that situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Lesley,
    I guess I missed this one while I had an eye on the storm! 🙂 But the photo on your front page drew me in and I so appreciated reading about your prayers and concern, not only for us in Florida, but for so many natural disaster areas around the world. We don’t know why God elects not to stop the storm for some but through faith we know that we can trust him. Thank you for these lovely words and I’m so glad your friends got through her difficult time! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Valerie, I’m glad you liked it. It is so hard to understand why God doesn’t stop these things- now there’s Hurricane Maria and the earthquake in Mexico as well- but we do have to hold on to trust in God and his faithfulness.

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