While on vacation last month, I saw the new version of the classic game show, “Let’s Make a Deal.” What a great show … you could be dealing for a donkey, a gigantic candy bar, or a brand new car. The suspense of not knowing what you’ll win, the challenge of trying to manipulate the game, the freedom and fear of not being in control, and the uncertainty of what the other person will do are all enticing emotions that draw us into this bargaining game.
It’s common for people concerned about someone with a life-controlling problem (addiction), relational struggle, or health issue to try to strike bargains with themselves, with the person, with others, and with God. We might promise ourselves that we will be better. We will say the right thing next time. We will make things right. We will refrain from something enjoyable … or harmful. All these things in exchange for something we desire from others or ourselves.
We might set up deals with the loved one to reward them for refraining from their problem behavior. Or we might bargain with God and try to make a deal with Him … a promise to give to the church, to do some good deeds, to give up gossiping or a sexual sin, if only He will fix our or our loved ones’ problems.
If you are in this deal-making stage, you need to understand that help for a friend or loved one doesn’t depend on your performance. God has a specific plan for that person’s life and their change process is between them and God. God may want to use us in the person’s life and work through us. We all have some potential influence, but we have no power. We are in no position and have no leverage to bargain with God. When you think about it, what do we really have to offer in a trade with God?
Today, accept your powerlessness to change another person. Don’t try bargaining with God as if He is on another team. Learn to actually join God’s team and let Him be your captain, and then follow His instruction. Maybe He does want to utilize your influence on the person or situation. You need to view the experience as one of growth for you. If the other person is able to see God through you and engage with God more, again, that is between that person and God.
Dear Father God, all my efforts have failed. No matter what I do, I realize now that I can’t fix my loved one’s problems. But I thank You that You can. Your grace is enough. Help me to let go and trust You. Saying that, let me know how you want me to engage with my loved one so I can grow in You and personally. Help me understand how You want to use me for my growth and help me leave the changing of my loved one up to You. I pray this and all prayers in the name of the One who can fix all things, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9