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What do we do when there is nothing we can do?

What do we do when there is nothing we can do?

No matter what it is, all of our situations with negative change have one thing in common: They feel final.

In other words, the story doesn’t end with a comma, waiting for what’s next. It ends with a definitive period. THE END. No new chapters, no next phase.

You are probably nodding your head right now because you feel that way. Maybe you feel that way often! In the midst of change, and especially negative, hurtful change, we lose perspective.

What do I mean by that?

When our new reality no longer matches what we expected, we can feel completely alone.

Read that sentence one more if you need to. Take your time understanding each component of it, because admitting this is true helps us work through the loneliness we often feel:

  • Alone in our loss of opportunity.

  • Alone in the loss of a relationship.

  • Alone in our disappointment in ourselves or someone else.

  • Alone in our disappointment of God.

Nobody gets it, or feels it, or is going through it, or has come out of what we are going through right now. We feel alone.

So, what do you do when there is nothing you can do?

Because the cold reality is that you have very little control of what happens in your life. You cannot control how other people treat you or what they think about you; you cannot fully control how your kids grow up and if you spouse will continue to love and support you; very little of us can even control how we feel or what we think at all times.

And then you throw negative change into the mix: death of a loved one, loss of a job, dissolving friendships, divorce, depression, anxiety.

The equation can be broken down:

You realize how little control you have + things are changing around you constantly = you come to this halting question: what do you do when there is nothing you can do?

Isaiah was a prophet. . .

No, that is not me avoiding the question, but introducing the answer.

We don’t hear about prophets much today, but thousands of years ago this was God’s primary way of speaking to his people. Imagine Paul Revere riding in on his horse yelling out: “The British are coming! The British are coming!”

Isaiah was a messenger for God, and the messages were not always good.

In this circumstance, Isaiah is speaking to a tribe that has broken off from the kingdom of Israel (God’s chosen nation). Judah had disobeyed; they had stepped out from under the “light” God was producing, and as a result they would experience “darkness” (my own metaphor).

So, Isaiah gets the not-so-lucky task of letting Judah know the bad news: you will be invaded by a hostile country. That stings.

But in the midst of this bad news, we get a glimpse of the character of God. Now, what you’re about to read is not a message directed straight towards us, but it gives us a clear picture of God’s character and how he cares for all his people (including you and me):

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2

There are some colossal promises tucked away in this one verse.

Have you ever had a fear of dropping your phone in a lake, or in the ocean? Why? Because you would never see it again. Even as a certified diver, I know that once the phone slips from my finger, it will be forever gone.

  • Have you ever felt so lost that you could never be retrieved?

Have you ever come to a rushing river that you knew you would not be able to cross? Now we have an abundance of bridges that make the crossing much easier, but imagine if we had no bridges for a moment. We would come to the water’s edge and know that crossing it was next to impossible.

  • Have you ever felt that the outcome you desire is next to impossible to accomplish?

Have you ever been standing by a campfire and watched things burn inside of it. The moment you throw in, say a sheet of paper, there is no return. The flames lick it up, wrapping themselves around all its edges, and slowly crumble it into black flakes, never to be recognized as what it was before.

  • Have you ever felt that your past has left you a burning heap unrecognizable from who you use to be?

Yeah, I think many of us have come to this point.

And one last thing: notice that God does not say “if” you find yourself at this point, but “when.” Change is going to happen, bad things are going to happen, and chapters are going to end.

God recognizes we will have troubles. It’s inevitable for all of us, but he reminds us that this is not the end of the story. Notice again what God says through Isaiah.

He will be with you.

God will be with you.

God will not abandon you.

God will be with you.

God is bigger than anything you will ever face. He’s bigger than change, divorce, broken hearts, depression, or crisis. It doesn’t mean he will reverse it. A broken situation may stay broken forever. But you are not going to be defeated.

You are not going to be left alone.

Here on earth you will have trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
— John 16:33b

What do we do when there is nothing we can do?

I believe that we must first remind ourselves of what is true. We spent some time just now breaking down just one verse that gives us a glimpse into the character of God. Remind yourself that you are never alone. God has not, and will not, abandon you.

God pursues you. Maybe you need to start pursuing him.

Second, live like it is true.

Too many times, when life if painful, we make choices that hurt us and are opposite of what God wants.

  • We hurt ourselves.

  • We cope through unhealthy means.

  • We hurt other people.

Out of pain and distrust we create more pain and distrust. But there is a better way to live and react than this! You know there is! Even if right now you are not feeling as if God is with you or that he can be trusted: trust is not about how you feel it’s is about what you do.

Guard your future. Guard your relationships. Guard your devotion to God.

Remind yourself of what is true: God will never abandon you.


Live like it’s true: guard your life.

If we can find healthy ways to do these two things I personally believe we have found an answer to what do we do when there is nothing we can do. Reality is, while we we my not be able to control the outcome of every situation, we can control how we respond to every situation.

And we will never be alone in this.

Move people from Hunger to Hope!

Move people from Hunger to Hope!

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Jesus loved being human!