Proverbs 3:5–6 (NRSV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
An experiment was done were rats where trained to press a blue button to obtain a piece of food. Their training was reinforced by the fact that when they pressed a nearby red button, they received an unpleasant shock. Once they learned what pressing each button meant (blue meant food and red shock), they settled into a routine . . . . But then the scientists switched the experiment so that sometimes they got a shock from the blue button and food from the red. On any given attempt, there was no way for the rats to know whether they would get food or a shock. These were the results: The rats suffered nervous breakdowns.”
Have you ever felt that way? Like you had things figured out. You had a pretty solid system of how life works. The things you believe about God made sense. God could always be trusted, and He would never put you in a place where you feel like you don’t know which button to push.
Life Often Feels Like You Are Pressing Buttons
Like the mice, we could be afraid and anxious about pushing any buttons because of what might happen. The result is that we stop, count our losses, and then just live to survive but no longer thrive. When you are young, you press any button, you press freely without any fear. The young take risks and leap without looking. You love the thrill of the shock, and say “Shock me again,” but then life switches the buttons on you (the button that once give you food now gives you a shock).
What the Shock Does to Us?
It shakes our beliefs and the things that we were confident in. When we experience crisis, we tend to throw everything we once believed out the window. We become disillusioned for the first time. For the first time, we don’t feel like we are bulletproof, or that anything is absolutely sure in this life. It helps cure us from relying on our own insight and wisdom. The only way not to lean on our own understanding is to be in a place where we don’t understand.
How Should I Deal with The Buttons?
Trust God, not the buttons. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” How do you know you trust someone? You put your heart into it, you surrender what you think you know. You give up the “Hollywood ending” of how things should be and just trust. It would help to understand that suffering does not simply come from choosing the wrong button. There are good people who have made the right choices (pushed buttons) and still experienced the shock of tragedy, and bad people who made all the wrong choices (wrong buttons), and seemed to live “perfect lives.”
We must learn the truth that both buttons carry good and bad. Paul “eyed” the “buttons” when he said, “for or a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.” 1 Corinthians 16:9f (NRSV)
So, trust God, not the buttons. Surrender what you think you know. Look for God in the shock. Persevere and God will do the rest.