Feeling Trapped? Helpless and Hopeless?

What Can I Do?Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in a crazy world where everything is out of control. If you are watching some of the same news programs I am you may be feeling the same way.

We have open borders and millions of imigrants have come in without us knowing if some of them have intentions to do us harm, wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, the national debt close to 34 trillion dollars, and our national government in a sad state of division and ineptness. 

Honestly, there are times when I can stomach only so much of this craziness before I change the channel or find something else to do. I believe in staying informed, but what’s going on often leaves me feeling trapped in a world I can do little about. I sometimes despair and feel helpless and hopeless. Ever feel that way?

Do you ever feel you’re on a dead-end street with no way out? It may be you are there because of something more personal than those larger concerns I’ve mentioned. It could be a diagnosis of cancer, a sudden financial loss, the end of a significant relationship, a life-threatening accident, or the death of a loved one.

We’ve all experienced difficult times and will likely continue to have these challenges throughout our lifetime. That seems to be the rhythm or cycle of life; a child is born, somebody dies, victory and loss, accomplishment and defeat, joy, and sorrow.

On the evening of April 28, 2022, my phone system posted my great-nephew’s number on my tv. I sensed something was wrong and answered quickly. This is what I heard, “Uncle Cos, I hate to tell you this. Pa is dead.” His Pa was my older brother, Earl. 

Just a few days before Michael’s call, Earl and I had planned to meet for lunch  as we often did when I was traveling through the area where he lived. That lunch would never happen, I would never speak with him again. Earl was not only my brother but had become a really good friend and cheerleader in my work.

His death has brought deep grief and pain but it has had a good effect also. It is a wake-up call; a reminder of the precious gift life is, and the need to continue to invest in the things that are of eternal value. Earl’s passing has left a big hole in my life but it  has caused me to slow down a bit and to stay focused on God’s plan for me at this juncture of the journey.

During this process of grieving  I have “rediscovered” some things that may be helpful to you.

I find them effective as I try to deal with the personal and external challenges that attempt to discourage me and rob me of the joy God wants to fill my life.

wake up callI want to recommend an approach to living that can cut down on the problems we make ourselves and will prepare us to face the challenges that are going to be coming our way. My challenge to you and myself is this: LIVE PROACTIVELY.

This means I am to consider what lies within my realm of responsibility and to get about doing that. I’m not responsible for things I cannot control but I am responsible for what I can do.

Please allow me to share why I believe this is the very best way to live amid all the problems and frustrations life throws at us. 

My faith and my worldview require me to be awake and active. It tells me that life can be very hard and that death is a reality I must take into account. I can wake up to that reality or try to live in denial of it. However, I will not escape it no matter what I do to try to avoid it. 

Here are some things I remind myself of when life closes in on me and there seems to be nothing I can do to deal with its problems. Maybe you will find them helpful as well. 

First, denying the issue or issues is not the solution.

 Many people who refuse to face reality do all kinds of things to distract from the truth. They tend to get involved in excesses of eating, drinking, living carelessly, and other behaviors that are very destructive to themselves and others. In my opinion, this is not living at all but a slow but sure way of dying before you die. We must face our losses and challenges as a fact of life and ask God for the grace and strength to grieve and continue to move forward. 

Second, remember that God is sovereign over everything. No matter how dark and hopeless things seem in the world or our situation, God has the final say. We are not God and many, many things are beyond our ability to understand or control. But God does know, God does understand, and God is “working in  everything to bring about something good for those who love him.” Romans 8:28.

Release to him the things that are beyond your control and ask for the wisdom and strength to help you cooperate with his will.

We are currently witnessing a lot of evil in our country and throughout the world. I am greatly distressed by what I’m seeing. But God is still sovereign. His arch enemy Satan is hard at work but God will even use evil to accomplish good for those who love him. I’m glad I’m in that camp, aren’t you? We are on the winning side.

Remember how God used the evil of Joseph’s brothers to place him in a position of influence in Egypt that led to saving his family during the drought and famine. More personally, have you considered how the evil that resulted in the crucifixion of Jesus has been overcome by his resurrection and eternal life for you and all who confess him as Lord? Our Father is sovereign. He’s got this, whatever it is that you and I are concerned about.  

Our physical death cannot, will not, defeat Him!  Yes, death waits for me but it will not destroy or be the end of me. Jesus has taken care of that for me. My hope is in Jesus and He is the reason I can live proactively and with a deep sense of purpose and meaning in my life. 

If you are not living in this sense of hope I have just described, I challenge you to think about why not. There are at least a couple of possibilities for the sad state of life. If you claim to be a follower of Jesus, perhaps you have lost your way.

The cares and frustrations of life may have caused you to lose focus on the implications of the gospel for your life. You have allowed your emotions to control your outlook and behavior. You are acting and living like you don’t believe what your confession and baptism say you believe. How we live is the evidence of the vitality of our faith in God. It’s time to renew your faith in Jesus and “get back in the game.” 

The only other reason I can think of as to why you are living without hope is that you are not a believer. You have not wandered from the faith you once confessed, you have never had a deep life-changing encounter with Jesus. You may have taken many routes to try to escape the reality of your problems and your death but you haven’t done the one thing that can help you deal with your problems.

Ask God to forgive you for your sin of unbelief and trying to play God in your life. He will give you the eternal life that empowers you to live well in this life and overcomes physical death. Commit yourself to live an abundant life of obedience to His will for you. This is the secret of really living ‘til you die. 

Now, here’s my suggestion for you to consider if you want to live life to your best.  

Wake up and be proactive. What does that mean?  Being proactive involves thinking about and choosing how you want to live, and taking actions that will help you live well. It’s about living responsibly, being an adult about your health, your marriage, your parenting, your job, and your relationship with God.

Why is it important to live proactively? God didn’t make you to be dependent on others to take care of you. Dependency is for childhood and those who cannot for some reason take care of themselves. He made you active and productive for all your life, to contribute to the betterment of yourself, your family, and others. You are not to live with the mentality of a victim.

Sure, bad things may have happened to you. Bad things happen to most of us at some point in life but they do not define who we are.

In the next post, I will go into more detail about what proactive living looks like.

Thanks for reading my posts.



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