Life goes sour. I don’t know why it happens, but in some season or another, we will find ourselves in the middle of a storm larger than we could have ever imagined. We were even assured of it by Jesus himself when he said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33). And one thing of which I can assure you is that when trouble strikes and you are beginning to be consumed by worry, someone will inevitably try to strike down your worries with five oh-so-calming words: “Let go and let God.”
As always, cliches are not meant to harm and are simply people’s way of putting words to feelings that really and truly cannot be expressed. They are generally not helpful and most often leave the recipient feeling pretty close to clocking the deliverer right upside the head (well…at least that’s the case when the recipient is, well, me…). However, people just want to help; when they can’t, they fail to exercise a filter on their words and end up saying something in an effort to feel like they’ve done something constructive in a situation that they have no tools to repair.
Let go and let God. It’s not a bad saying. It’s just not helpful or practical (nor does it make grammatical sense!). Inspiring? Maybe. But to the majority of the general population, it is not helpful. Why? The answer is simple.
We always get to know our babysitters.
Do you have any children? Pets? A house? These are common things we will leave under the care of others. If you go out of town, you may find someone to watch over the house and take care of your pets. Maybe you board your dog while you’re away. If you have little ones and you plan on leaving the house without them…you’re going to get a babysitter. And when you’re away, you’ll think about your pint-sized loved ones often, wondering how they’re doing, if they miss you, if the babysitter is dealing okay. It’s just a fact–you will worry about your kids when they are under the care of anyone other than you. But you would worry about your children exponentially more if they were being taken care of by a complete stranger. That’s why we don’t leave our children under the care of strangers. How in the world are we supposed to confidently trust a person we have never met with our most precious responsibilites? We aren’t. We’re basically leaving our children’s safety up to chance because we didn’t take the time to do our research.
What happens when you tell someone to “Let go and let God”, then? It can go a few different ways. For a very select few, they’ll take the statement as a reminder to trust the sovereign Lord. Some others may be inspired to have positive thoughts and will have a bit more strength to get through the day. However, an unfortunate amount of others will receive the cliche…and it will mean absolutely nothing. Why? The answer is the same: We always get to know our babysitters.
I cannot let go of my worries about my children if I am not confident in the person in charge of their care. I will worry. Period. And I cannot be confident in a person’s ability to care for my kids if I do not get to know them. The same is true of trusting God with our worries–we cannot let go of our worries and “let God” if we do not have confident trust in Him. And we cannot have trust in a God we do not know.
Sure, we can tell a person over and over that God is good, God is sovereign, God loves us, God will never leave or forsake us, etc., etc., etc. But until they taste and see for themselves that He is good, there is no way they will ever, ever be able to leave their worries at His feet.
So maybe we should throw away “let go and let God” and replace it with a question that is much more difficult to ask but would lead to much more peace in one’s soul: Do you know God? No, the words won’t fix their problem that moment, but growing in the knowledge of who God is will take them to a place where letting go and “letting God” actually means something.