Bishop's Reflections #8: The Temptation of Control

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One of the most difficult things of these recent months has been the feeling that we are somehow not in control of our own lives.

As various restrictions have been imposed on us not only does our world grow smaller, but also our stress and anxiety levels can rise as we feel as if other people are making all the decisions about our lives. That's hard and I want to confess that I personally have struggled with that.

And so as we come to the third of the temptations that Jesus faced, in these little series of reflections that I'm doing. We've looked previously at Jesus being tempted to be the provider; to be the one who provides for other people's needs. We've looked at the temptation to be the performer; to be the one who draws attention to themself. And now we come to the temptation to be the possessor; to be the one who is always in control, always master of their own circumstances and of course for Jesus it was the temptation to control all things, all the kingdoms that were offered to him if only he would bow down and worship the devil. Jesus resists that temptation, like others, making it clear that ultimately it is God who is in control of this world even though at times we may struggle to see that. At times we may be full of questions about why there's the suffering in this world and why it is that evil can appear to prosper. And yet Jesus draws us back to that understanding that whatever questions we may have in our minds, however much we may be struggling there is only one thing that is asked of us. 

Which is that we place our trust and our faith in God. That's challenging for every one of us, I would suggest, in these current circumstances. We want to be in control, as I say, every one of us is in some sense a control freak. And when we're not in control we do get anxious, we do start to get stressed about things and that's why later on in the bible, of course, it talks about taking our anxieties to God in prayer. It's almost as if we lay down that burden before God in our prayers knowing then that we don't have to pick that burden up again. There is someone else who carries it for us.

So whatever your circumstances, however you're feeling at this time, however much out of control you may feel. My simple encouragement to you is to take your burdens, your anxieties to God in prayer to lay them at his feet and to leave them there. That is the power of prayer, it doesn't deny the complexities of life or the questions that we all struggle with but it is the simple invitation to place our trust and our faith in God our creator. So may you know his peace at this time.

First published on: 8th March 2021
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