Do nothing? Oh, how that rubs against the grain! Sure there are plenty of times when my lazy bone is acting up and I only want to lay back, roll over and do nothing. But those are never the times (so to speak) when my house is on fire! In such situations of pain or perceived danger I’m on fire to do all that I can to alleviate the problems I face.
And yet sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. Nothing? Well, not exactly. In those situations I need to do everything that it takes to pray the full release of all my cares to the Lord, so that I can have His perfect peace. According to Jesus this is actually the “work” that is required of us! (And yes, it is work, hard work. That’s one reason why many don’t stop to do it.)
Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:28-29 ESV
I can almost hear the people saying: “Come on Jesus. We know that here is something that we have to do. It can’t be all trust, grace and the Kingdom. God expects us to do something, right?” Jesus agrees: “Yes, there is something you have to do, something God expects you to do, and it will take a lot of work on your part to do it: Learn to really believe in Me!” This always means believing in Jesus (who He is, what He has done and what He has promised to do) until we are actually trusting God with the problem. No matter what He allows. No matter what He asks.
We have a God who is so concerned about us that He wants us to rest our hearts fully upon His ability to work for us at those times when His help is needed. Isaiah asks if any of us have known a God like this who “acts for those who wait for Him.”
From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear no eye has seen a God besides you,who acts for those who wait for him. Isaiah 64:4 ESV
At all other times (by far the majority) I need to work on the problems directly without “waiting” for God to act. Oh no, now you’re complicating things for us! So it would seem and so it would be, but for one infallible guide. That God-given guide gives us the key to discerning which situation requires our working directly upon it and which requires our trusting it to God’s work alone. That guide is the peace of Christ.
Follow me in this: if God has placed the problem in my hands for me to work on (trusting Him to work through me), then I will have no peace if I set it aside and don’t work on it. But if it is a problem He wants me to entirely trust to Him, I will have no peace until I do. Simple? Yes, but only on paper!
In actual practice the discernment often comes slowly after many failed, grace-less attempts to fix the problem ourselves and the letting go comes grudgingly as something in us stubbornly resists the entreaty of God and His grace to abandon all our efforts to fix the situation.
Hannah Whithall Smith (from whom I first learned this lesson) in her little book The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life says that our problems are actually “chariots of fire” designed by God to carry us higher into His life and presence as we learn to entrust them to God to work on, either for us or with us. But if we fail to trust Him with our cares, He uses those same cares and problems to work on us!
What a divinely elegant incentive program our God has devised for getting us to do the hard work of trusting Him. The weight of what we don’t entrust to the Lord will inevitably “crush” our resistance to Him. We end up saying “uncle” anyway. Resistance is futile! Grace rules!