Trust God’s Presence: Overcome Helplessness

Have you ever run into a problem and could not fix it? How do you overcome helplessness?

Parents run into this issue all of the time. Our kids struggle at school, and we have to sit back and let them experience the struggle. We can’t take the struggle away. We can’t make it easier.

Teachers run into this issue sometimes. They want so badly to help all of their students, but their authority ends where a parent’s authority begins. 

Sometimes the problem is hard to fix because of our lack of influence. And, sometimes the problem is hard to fix because we simply do not know what to do.

The “not knowing what to do” has to be the hardest. I had a situation recently where there was a problem, and someone else thought I should be able to fix it. I can’t remember their exact words, but she basically said “YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!” (I was literally yelled at. These upper case letters are not just for dramatic writing.)

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so defeated than at that moment. Not only was this a situation that I could not fix. It was a situation that I didn’t even know how to fix. I remember looking into the face of the other person, seeing her frustration, and feeling so helpless myself. 

Shew! That is not a great feeling.

Parents, you know that feeling. 

Your kids come home heartbroken about a relationship at school. You can’t fix that relationship. You just walk the hurt with them.

Your kids failed a test. You can’t fix that grade. You just walk the frustration with them.

Your kids scraped their knee falling off their bicycle. You can’t take that pain away. You just sit beside them.

Overcoming Helplessness with Scripture

As I look at scripture, God seems to remind people over and over that He is with them in hard situations (see Isaiah 41:10 or Deuteronomy 31:6). These scriptures are interesting. They do not give a prescription for how the Lord will fix a problem. He just reminds His people that He is with them.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9, ESV

The Lord spoke these words to Joshua after Moses died. Joshua was getting ready to lead the people to the promised land. I have no doubt Joshua felt overwhelmed. These people had a history of being rebellious when things would get hard. They were hard to lead, and they were going to face some enemies. Joshua needed a battle plan. Yet, God told him to trust, obey, and know God was with him (see Joshua 1:1-9).

I love verse 10. “And Joshua commanded the officers of the people.” 

Did he wallow in his frustration? Nope. Remembering that God was with him, He commanded the people in their next step.

Did he perseverate on his fear of the outcomes? Nope. Remembering that God was with him, He commanded the people in their next step.

Did he tell all of his friends how hard things were? Nope. Remembering that God was with him, He commanded the people in their next step.

Goodnes! Could I learn from Joshua?!

In my recent situation, I didn’t know what to do. I let my own wallowing, fear, and perseverating to keep me from doing the next step.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9, ESV

Overcoming Helplessness by Knowing God’s Will

If the Lord is with us and He establishes our steps, we can trust Him. Even when we don’t know what to do, we know how to trust and obey. God’s Word is full of guidance on our next steps.

  • Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV
  • For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 1 Peter 2:15, ESV
  • If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. John 7:17, ESV
  • Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:17, ESV
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV
  • He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8, ESV
  • But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33, ESV

Overcoming Helplessness by Seeking Him in All Things

Maybe you are like me and one of these verses has reminded you of who you are in Christ and who your God is. Maybe one of these verses has empowered you to know the next step in that impossible problem.

Or maybe the problem is not yours to solve. Maybe you have been reassured today that God is with you. You don’t need to pick up this fight. You can rest in Him and know that He goes before you.

As we close, my prayer for you is that you are able to seek Him in all things. When that feeling of inadequacy or helplessness comes, run to the cross. Look into the face of Jesus. Know that his work on the cross has created a way for you to know Him. You can rest in Him. You can trust Him. 

I have a friend who is always telling me “God’s got this.” Sometimes those words frustrate me. I want an answer, a solution, a battle plan…

And there it is…the battle is not mine. The Lord establishes my steps. He is with me wherever I go. He will fight for me. I only need to be still.

God really does have this.


Images painted by Tyra Harnishfeger with a Let’s Make Art watercolor tutorial.



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