When Life is Out of Control
I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Revelation 3:8
In the disaster of my addiction, I lost – or was in the process of losing – everything. I lost my job and I wasn’t sure if I was even a physician anymore. My marriage was in shambles as my wife was on her way out the door, or rather I was being shown the door. I had no way to earn a paycheck, and I was headed to treatment, which cost even more money. I was a walking calamity. I was losing everything, and I was hopelessly addicted to drugs. My future looked more than a little bleak. Even when I found recovery, I knew that I’d changed, but I still didn’t have a job and my wife was still wanted nothing to do with me. Yes, I was sober, but I’d lost everything.
Something happened in that perceived nothingness though. It was only in that state of utter helplessness, that I began to understand and practice authentic faith. In the loss of my catastrophe, I realized that all those things that had been taken away were forms of self-reliance. No, I didn’t have all the stuff that I’d once depended on for security, but I had God. And that had to be enough because it’s all I had. For me, it took that loss of everything I relied on for my identity to finally learn to rely only on God for my joy, purpose, and meaning. It took that powerlessness to teach me to have faith in God’s power.
This is what today’s passage reminds me of. In it, Christ commended those in the church in Philadelphia. He understood that they weren’t in a position of political or cultural power. They weren’t influencers. Rather, they were the defenseless minority, the pariahs, and the outcasts. They had little, but they had God – and that was enough. Perhaps if they had political power, they would have relied on themselves, but they didn’t, so they relied on God. In their weakness, they learned authentic faith.
For me, the challenge now, is to remain in that place of relying on God. Thankfully, my life has come back together. My wife didn’t leave, and we now genuinely love – and like – each other. My career is flourishing. The temptation now, is to return to that place of self-reliance. I know from experience though, that self-reliance is the enemy of faith. So, today, and every day, I wake up early, taking time to point my life at God, reminding myself that I find my true joy, purpose, and meaning only in following him.