There are moments when we all can’t handle it anymore and want to break down. Think of when you’re taking a longer trip and will be driving on the same road for a while until you have to follow the next direction called out by your phone. Even if you have plenty of time until your GPS tells you the next move, if someone picks up your phone to use it, there is part of you that gets anxious because you’re not in control.
But the problem isn’t necessarily when we’re in control. It’s when we’re not.
The issues in our lives come out when we feel a sense of chaos and helplessness, and the feelings aren’t the issues. It’s how those issues manifest themselves through thoughts, actions, and reactions.
It’s what we do when we feel the loss of control that potentially leads to a meltdown.
Expectation is everything, and usually, when we’re having a meltdown, it’s because we have a certain expectation that isn’t met. With that comes a lack of certainty and control. And sometimes, that’s necessary, but what we do with it will lead to peace or a meltdown.
One of the most famous characters in the New Testament is a disciple of Jesus named Peter. Peter is the type of person who is quick to speak, fast to help, a ready, fire, aim guy.
Peter's boldness and speed from the first moment he encounters Jesus is unmistakable. He left his net and followed. Peter is often the first one to speak, the first one to act, the first one to try something, and the first one to be named among all other disciples.
But why is that?
Expectations play a big role in how we act and react to things, so what was Peter’s expectation of Jesus? What did he think of Jesus?
Peter’s response reveals his expectations. He expects Jesus to be the Messiah. And we have to remember that for the Jewish people at that time, the term “Messiah” was not just a spiritual salvation but also a political salvation.
When you understand someone’s expectations, you can make sense of their actions.
The Book of John brings more clarity to this.
What a MELTDOWN.
Peter is probably thinking, “This isn't how it should go. This isn’t what I thought was going to happen. I feel helpless and out of control. I need to do something.”
Peter is literally watching everything in his life fall apart. None of his expectations are being met. So, what does he do? He takes out a sword and cuts off the high priest servant’s ear. Remember, Peter isn’t a soldier. He’s a fisherman. Screaming from the text is someone who is confronted with not being in control and is trying desperately to get it back.
Our reactions aren’t the main issue, they’re a manifestation of our lack of control.
There are pros and cons to anything in our lives. We can find a positive angle to almost anything. Still, as we dig deeper into spiritual and emotional maturity, we can almost always put a positive spin on sin issues we don’t want to deal with.
The area of our lives where we are trying to take control is usually because we lack control in another area of our lives.
And why do we want control? It’s because we struggle with whether God is really in control. It’s because we wrestle with whether God is good and sovereign – if we don’t feel like God is in control, then we need to be.
But is control really a sin?
It is the original sin – the root sin of all other sins.
We don’t use that word often, but the Bible is very clear. The issue is rarely the issue. That’s why when Jesus comes on the scene, in His teachings, He often says something like, “You’ve heard it said this way, but I say to you...” He’s really saying, “You guys are addressing the symptoms, but I’m addressing the heart underneath it.”
Without addressing matters of the heart, we’ll never get to the heart of the matter.
If we miss that our behaviors are connected to deep matters of our hearts, we’ll continue to address the symptoms and never fully deal with the root issues.
But the point of this series isn’t to beat us up about how messed up our hearts are. The hope this example brings us is how God meets us in the middle of our meltdown, and there are 3 things Jesus provides for us in the middle of a meltdown.
The first way Jesus meets Peter in his meltdown is with correction. There’s something powerful about the way Jesus corrects Peter. It’s filled with love.
Some of us need to understand that just because we struggle with anxiety or control, just because we "meltdown" and God needs to correct us, doesn't mean we have weak faith. It doesn't mean we have a diminished view of God or are bad Christians. It means we're human.
God moved in our direction despite our sins and failures and provided correction to the problem. When that correction comes, we see it's done from a heart of love for us.
“Put your sword back where it belongs.” He doesn’t say, “Why do you have a sword?!” He doesn’t say, “Never have a sword!” He says, “Put your sword away where it belongs.”
We might think there’s time for control and being in charge. But where is that? It’s easier to attempt to control the external things in our lives and ignore the deeper issues because it’s not as much work and it’s not as inconvenient.
“Put your sword back where it belongs. Am I not to go through what My Father has given Me to go through?” Jesus is calm and composed through this whole ordeal. And that’s not because He’s ignoring His emotions or because He’s God, but because He understands that God is over what He’s going through.
Now, how does this manifest in our lives today?
The work of God’s Spirit is not just to produce the attributes we find lovely but also to help us combat the issues of our nature.
Yes, God’s goodness meets us in a meltdown, a moment where we lose control. Self-control is rooted in God’s presence in our lives and an awareness that God has what’s best for us in mind.
So, what do we do? How can we better handle our moments of meltdown?
Accept the invitation.
When we have our moments of meltdown, there’s an invitation. The question is, what will you do with that invitation? God doesn’t force His way, love, or peace on us. It’s something we are invited to.
So, will you accept it?
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