When Things Go Wrong

1In you, YHWH, I have taken refuge.
Never let me be put to shame!
2Bring me to safety me because you are righteous,
Listen attentively to me!
Hurry up and deliver me!
Be a great rock to protect me,
A fortress to bring me salvation!
3For you are my rock and my fortress,
For your reputation’s sake, guide and help me.
4Get me out of the snare they have set for me,
For you are the one who helps me.
5I trust my spirit in your hand.
Redeem me, YHWH, for you are a trustworthy God. — Psalm 31:1-5

When something goes wrong in your life, what is your first call?

I have to admit that as I’ve read this passage over the last few days this question has bothered me. Let me confess something. No matter how many times I teach it, no matter how many times I determine to live it, very frequently God is not my first call in trouble.

  • When my care breaks down, I check the bank balances and call a mechanic.
  • When money is short, I look at business receivables and possible sources of money
  • When something is missing, I search for it frantically
  • When there’s a health issue, I check with the numerous medical folks in my family, or I call a doctor

In none of those situations is my first call to God. Now none of the things I mentioned are bad things to do. I suspect that even if I call on God I’m going to have to work with bank accounts, mechanics, doctors, and so forth. That’s not going to change that much. God will help, but he’s likely to point out to me that he called the mechanic or the doctor to be at that place—in other words, he already has helped!

What would change is me. You see, if I call on God first and put the result in his hands, I can handle the rest much more simply. I could quit worrying. I heard a little rhyme when I was in the Air Force. I don’t know the origin of it. It goes something like this: “When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!”

We often miss the simple things. While we wait for God to intervene in a spectacular way, and complain that he didn’t intervene in the way he wanted us to, we can miss the fact that he provided a very straightforward means of helping us. Worry is a time and energy waster. It doesn’t accomplish anything, and it prevents us from accomplishing things we would normally be able to do easily.

Jesus didn’t just give good spiritual advice when he told us not to worry (Matthew 6:25). We see this as some kind of esoteric command that we have to strive to fulfill. We worry about not worrying! But actually it’s an excellent piece of practical advice.

Whatever the problem is, worrying won’t fix it. A good first step to avoiding the path of worry is to call on God first. You may still have to look for your checkbook, pay your mechanic, or heed your doctor’s advice, but your blood pressure will probably be lower, and your mind clearer.

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