Does your life feel out of control?
The bases are loaded with two outs and the Umpire yells strike three as your best hitter watches a fastball race across home plate. Though you would have loved to win the game on a walk off hit, you are ok heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. The scoreboard reads five to one. The other team has not gotten a hit in the last three innings. All you need is three more outs and then you are off to trophy time, pictures, and a first-place pizza party.
But then the unthinkable happens. The first two batters walk. A ground ball goes through the legs of the second baseman. Then, there is a home run. The score reads five to five. Then there is another walk. Then the runner breaks for second and the catcher throws the ball into center-field. When the dust settles, the runner has snuck across home plate. The joy that you could almost taste has melted into thin air, leaving only tears and smashed dreams behind. Life feels out of control.
The birds our chirping. You skip the donuts in the break room on Friday morning, bragging to our friend about how you just knocked off ten seconds from your run this morning. You check your email and discover you have been invited to an emergency meeting. You knock on your boss’s door. He tells you to come in. And after a five minute spiel about how much he appreciates you and your hard work, he announces that you have been lay off. He pats you on the back and walks you to your desk were security is waiting to usher you out to your car. When you get to your car, your phone rings. And before you can say a word, your spouse informs you that the water line broke and the basement is flooded. Life feels out of control.
Or perhaps you are like me. You go home after a long, grueling day of hospital visits and crunching numbers, relieved that your finally have every VBS receipt accounted for. You then sit down to eat few pieces of microwaved pizza while your wife heads off to bed because she is feeling. As Netflix plays in the background, you clean up the kitchen, set up the new trash can, and prepare for bed. Then you wife starts to have intense pain throughout her body. You rush her to the hospital, expecting to come home a few hours later. But before you can blink, you wife has gone into premature labor. Your precious little son is born at 9:08AM and then dies in your arms at 2:49PM. Life feels out of control.
When we suffer defeat, experience rejection, and taste evil where do we go? Where do we find hope? We find hope in the character and person of Christ. When life feels out of control we should trust Jesus because he is always in control.
Jesus enters Jerusalem in Mark 11:1-11 riding on a random donkey. He begins the passion week, the most monumental week in human history by sending off his disciples to get a donkey.
Why would Jesus do such an odd thing before he dies? He sends his disciples and prepares them to respond to the owners’ questions to demonstrate that he is in control of what is about to happen. Jesus is in control of the worst event in all of human history.
Often when suffering occurs, Christians in American tend to assume that something has gone horribly wrong. We tend to think that God has fallen asleep, we tend to think that God’s has forgotten us, and often assume that God’s plan for our life was thwarted. Sure, God will spin things back around for our good. But he never intended for us to lose our game, job, or child. That was not God’s plan. Things seem out of control because they are.
By sending his disciples to pick up a donkey, Jesus is seeking to tackle this mindset head on. Jesus knows that his disciples will flee at his arrest and melt into a bunch of cowards after his death. He knows that the ground will shake, that the curtain will turn into two, and that the dead will come back to life when he dies. Jesus knows the sorrow and the pain that he will suffer on the cross. Jesus knows all these things, because he has ordained and planned his death and resurrection.
Even the donkey is the fulfillment of of Zechariah 9:9 which proclaims
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!/Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!/ Behold, your king is coming to you;/ righteous and having salvation is he,/ humble and mounted on a donkey,/ on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Jesus is fully in control of all the events leading up to the cross. Nothing happens outside of his foreordained plan including the cross. The cross was God’s plan from before the world began (Rev. 13:8). And the very worship of Jesus is centered on his suffering. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain” (Rev. 5:9-12).
And if God is in control in the midst of his death- in the midst of the very worst of all time, we can trust him when our day feels out of control. We can be confident that our suffering is part of God’s plan. Paul David Tripp summed up this teaching nicely when he said,
Our suffering is not a gap in God’s love as if the Devil crept in while the Lord’s head was turned…Suffering is a sign that we are in the family of Christ and the army of the kingdom. We suffer because we carry his name.
And because God knows where to find a Donkey, we know he knows how to deliver us from our days that feel out of control. We have great hope because Jesus is alive. He rode the donkey to his death. But he did not stay dead. He rose from the grave. And all who follow Jesus will rise. They will be with Christ in heaven. We may never win a championship, we may never get our job back, and we may never hug our child again in this life. God’s power does not mean we get every good thing we desire. God’s power and control ensure we get Jesus, the best gift of all and the best comfort and strength of all. No storm can separate us from Jesus because he reigns.
Again, Paul David Tripp’s words prove timely on this subject:
Real comfort is more than thinking the right things in times of trouble. It involves having my identity rooted in something deeper than my relationships, possessions, achievements, wealth, health, or my ability to figure it all out. Real comfort is found when I understand that I am held in the hollow of the hand of the One who created and rules all things. The most valuable thing in my life is God’s love, a love that no one can take away. When my identity is rooted in him, the storms of trouble will not blow me away.
God was in control when he sent the disciples to find a donkey. He was in control when he sent his son to die on the cross. He is in control today and your life spins out of control. Will you trust him?