June 29: When I Don’t Know What to Do

“When I don’t know what to do” comes in many forms. Sometimes there are clear choices—A, B, or C—but we can’t discern which is the best (or least worst). Sometimes there are no clear choices, or all of our choices appear to be as bad or worse than the situation we wish to escape. Sometimes the choices seem to be beyond our control, left in the hands of others like bosses or uncooperative spouses or wayward children or the government. Or perhaps the “beyond our control” is a medical issue about which even the doctors don’t know what to do.

Every day, mostly unbeknownst to us, we stand with our toes up against an invisible line of not knowing what to do. One step, one slip, one slight gust of wind will propel us across that line into the realm of not knowing what to do with the circumstances facing us. Those insurance commercials with “mayhem” personified are humorous takes on how, suddenly, things are very much out of our control.

And just as the situations vary vastly, so do the outcomes:

  • Whether or not there ever are clear-cut choices.
  • How long it is before the choices become clear.
  • Whether God is speaking to us in our struggle or is silent.
  • How long He may remain silent.
  • Whether the situation will resolve in a way we find favorable.
  • Whether it will resolve at all this side of heaven.

There is certainly no “one size fits all” answer to these situations. What happens in one person’s life doesn’t necessarily translate into the lives of others. In fact, even if we’ve found ourselves in similar situations in the past in our own lives, the challenges, decisions, and outcomes can be vastly different. So what do we do?

David asked and answered that question in Psalm 11. He asked, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what do the righteous do?” He began to answer that question right away as he pointed his eyes and ours to the Lord in His holy temple and on His heavenly throne.

First we draw near to the temple, to the presence of the Lord. This orients us to our relationship with our Savior, Father, Provider . . . all He is to us. We come before Him in worship, adoration, and intimacy. We are reminded of Romans 8:32, where Paul tells us that, because the Father gave us the very best—in His Son—we should trust that He will give us the best in all things. He loves us so much. He promises not to withhold any thing that would be good for those who love Him. As we reflect on this relationship and remember all that is true about Him, we begin once again to evaluate our circumstance in light of who He is, instead of falling into the trap of defining Him through our situation.

When we gain this perspective in the midst of our times of dilemma our thoughts go from, “If God isn’t answering me or is allowing this situation, He must be angry with me,” to “He is loving and good. No good thing would He withhold from me, so this thing, or this timing, isn’t for my good, no matter how much I want it, or want it to be resolved.” We move from, “He loves others but doesn’t love me,” to “I believe all His Word tells me of His great love, and I trust that He extends this love to me, too. Romans 8:35-38 tells me that nothing can separate me from His love.”

In the context of this loving relationship we can find peace in Him, but we can also find the peace of God in the second answer David gives—that we view God in terms of His throne. This perspective means we think about God’s sovereignty. He is in control, even when we don’t know what to do and when things seem so out of control.

The psalm talks about God seeing all that is going on. Things beyond our control never take Him by surprise. He does know what to do, even when we don’t. He draws us near to move us to trust that He is big enough, wise enough, powerful enough, loving enough, good enough to remain in charge when our earthly foundations are being destroyed and we haven’t a clue what to do. It can look to us, in these clueless moments, that the wickedness and chaos of the world reigns, but it isn’t true. God is still on His heavenly throne, still in control, still at work even when we can’t see it or hear Him speak.

So we lift our hands in worship, stand on the truth of His Word, and submit ourselves not only to His sovereign goodness, but also His perfect peace.

by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries