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I recently read an article that explained what you should do if you ever become trapped in quicksand. Simply redistribute your body weight, gently, by floating. In other words, relax. Now this is an easy thing to say when one’s two feet are firmly planted on terra firma, but not so easy when one is sternum-deep in wretched muck. But it illustrates a lesson, one you’ve certainly heard before: In times of trouble, let it be.

Most of us never have to worry about helplessness. We’ve armored ourselves with modern conveniences, from cell phones to automobiles, to prevent our ancestors’ fates: to be alone on the wind-swept prairie, your last candle down to a nub, while the cry of wolves looms ever closer. We’re not helpless if we can help it, as silly as that sounds. Because helplessness is a bad feeling.

Today I’m opining that a little helplessness from time to time might be a good thing, spiritually speaking. Stay with me. My friend Ruth suffers from a debilitating illness that saps her strength and ability to function. In this inability, she finds God. Just read her posts if you don’t believe me. And while no one welcomes helplessness, it is good to be thrown back on our most important reserve: God. We need to be humbled, now and again, to realize that we are not in control of our destinies…but that someone greater is.

It is good practice to find our role model, not in Chicken Little with his endless running about and shrieking, but in Christ himself, who knew what it was to see one’s own fate and find it terrifyingly impossible. Sure, he was scared. He even cried and begged. That’s only human. But in the end, he leaves it with God: “Your will, not mine, be done.” And then he goes on to do the greatest thing anyone has ever done, or will ever do.

So embrace your inner helplessness. No, I’m not telling you to keep your deadbolts unlocked at night or take unnecessary risks with your person. Just take a moment to confront your very real helplessness and humanity in a world that could alternately scorch you to death or freeze you solid with the slightest tweak of the sun, a world that can flip your fortune from Fortune 500 to forlorn so quick it could make your head spin. Then realize that while you may be helpless, you’re never hopeless. God will buoy you up, come hell or high water…or even quicksand.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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