by David Sisler

"I'm having to depend on my non-Christian friends to help my wife," the man said. "My Christian friends are killing her." He went on to say that every time his wife attended church their well-meaning friends tried to encourage her by saying, "Just turn it over to Jesus and everything will be all right."

Don't misunderstand! There is a very profound sense in which we can trust God with the outcome of any predicament or circumstance. In fact, he invites us to place the care and keeping of our deepest needs with him.

In Romans 8:28, Paul promised, "We know that in everything God works for the good of those who love him." No one who trusts in God and is determined to allow God to handle a situation, regardless of the results, will ever be disappointed in God. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." We become disappointed with God when we reverse that prayer and say, "Nevertheless, not thy will, but mine be done!"

There is a very shallow way in which the phrase, "Just turn it over to Jesus," is tossed around by people who do not understand their own words. They use it to answer questions they have not yet grasped, and to solve problems they have not yet experienced. It's like playing the popular television game show, "Jeopardy." Alex Trebek declares, "The answer is..." And the contestant must come up with the question. The "turn it over to Jesus" response becomes trite. Life-changing circumstances are shrugged off carelessly. Such a superficial response is an evasion of involvement.

The man or woman who is hurting wants someone to get involved with his or her pain. Frequently, suffering pushes the limits of human endurance. That individual wants to know, "Where is God when it hurts?" It is so easy to add guilt to an already crushing burden, and that is exactly what happens if we cause people to believe they haven't given custody of their problems to God.

The night before he was crucified Jesus did pray for the complete fulfillment of his Father's will. Moments before he uttered that prayer, however, he made a statement which reveals the hollowness of cliches tossed thoughtlessly to an anguished human being. Speaking to his three closest friends, Jesus said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death" (Matthew 26:38). Jesus was literally saying, "I am grieved all around. I am overwhelmed with sorrow." It was as if the mental and spiritual anguish which prefigured his crucifixion might kill Jesus before the executioners had their chance.

Alan Jay Lerner and Fredrick Loewe's classic Broadway musical, My Fair Lady, is the story of Eliza Doolittle, a common flower girl who is taught to speak like a lady. Near the end of the play, hurt and disillusioned, she leaves her teacher, Professor Henry Higgins. As Eliza steps out into Wimpole Street she is met by Freddie Einsford Hill, her would-be suitor. When Freddie begins to declare his undying love, Eliza stops him. She cries out, "Words, words, words! I'm so sick of words. I get words all day through, first from him, now from you. Don't talk of stars burning above. Don't talk of love. Show me!"

When God communicated himself in love to humanity, and joined in all of the problems and pain which we face, he did not do it by only offering words. He became a man. Step by step Jesus penetrated to the very heart of human troubles. He became so hungry, the devil suggested he turn stones into bread. He wept at the tomb of Lazarus. He ached at the desertion of the disciples. He grieved at the denials of Peter. At last he cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Insensitive friends may dismiss your problems or trivialize them by saying, "Turn it over to Jesus." You can trust a Christ who has already suffered what you are experiencing.


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