Much of what passes for the pursuit of happiness and contentment in our lives these days is really about just one thing – an unquenchable desire for control. Passive emotions such as depression, anxiety and discontentment may be related to feelings of having no power over what goes on in our lives, and at the same time anger, greed, violence, poverty and rape may also be about control. The desire to have autonomy over both our present and our future drives each one of us, and subject to our particular way of expressing it might just as easily send us to an eight-hour-a-day job as it might an eighty year jail sentence. Everyone is looking to get their needs met, one way or another. People who do ill to others are rarely truly evil; more often, it’s simply that they are unable to place the welfare of another above their own.
Human beings could be excused for not being able to trust easily, although it’s more as a result of what we have done to each other than a fitting response to who and what God is to us. It’s difficult to find a person today who has not been exploited or abused in some way. Not many are able to easily trust. However, the more rigidly we adhere to a fixed idea of what we believe we have coming to us, the more likely we are to become frustrated in life. Though we often blame God for not coming through for us, our frustration speaks more to our lack of understanding of what will make us truly happy than it does to God’s deafness or recalcitrance in the face of our wants and needs.
Trusting God is about more about coming to believe God is good, no matter what happens, than it is about Him ever justifying why we ought to trust Him. It’s about becoming the type of person who will fully trust God, no matter what happens. It can take a long time to understand that God does not have an agenda he is trying to work out upon us, and He is not merely an arbitrary embodiment of gratuitous, authoritative power. These ideas have been borne from the damage we’ve suffered at each other’s hands, rather than from anything He has actually done. For example, we so easily attribute the tornado or the tsunami is being an ‘act of God”, yet we seldom see the heroic, gentle, generous acts humans commit in their aftermath as anything to do with God at all.
When we pray “Father God, give us this day” what we really say is “I relinquish control – I accept all that comes to me, knowing, above all, you are God, and you are good.” What comes to us may be acceptable to us, or indeed may not. Yet, as with the rest of this particular prayer our Lord taught to us, prayer is about surrender as much as it is about petition. If we have sought God merely as a way to bring all the spinning fragments of our life under our control, it’s likely we will be sorely disappointed. “Give us this day” speaks of our willingness to trust, to receive, and to live and be fully in this moment, which is in fact all we really can do anyway. “Give us this day” is an acknowledgement that in fact all control is an illusion, and God alone is sovereign over all.