Most of us hate feeling powerless; and, indeed, it is not very good for us – especially for extended periods of time. It can lead to depression, anxiety, outbursts of anger, alienation from others, physical symptoms; and, in its trauma form, it can lead to the symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD (e.g. nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and loss of concentration or memory to name a few).
Sometimes powerlessness comes from circumstances we have little or no control over. Other times it comes from the consequences of our actions. The latter can be even more frustrating because we may say, “I could have done something different“. We ruminate and replay the situation over and over. This can be helpful if we can process it into lessons learned, insight, awareness about others or ourselves, and character growth.
It is interesting to note that sometimes powerlessness can be very powerful. When Jesus surrenders to the cross, His powerlessness redeems the whole world. This is also illustrated in the fictional Star Wars movie where Obe Wan allows himself to be slain by Darth Vader only to come back as a ghost to aid Luke in fighting the Empire. The Apostle Paul talks about his powerlessness as an affliction he has and how it helps him grow and be empowered. Joseph’s powerlessness in the Old Testament is the seed for his rise to power in the house of Pharaoh. Despite his brother’s plot against him, he is faithful, and God sends him before his family to redeem them in their day of need. After they realize that the brother they sold into slavery is now in power over them, the brothers hear him say “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good“.
Dealing with powerlessness is a tricky matter sometimes.
First, we must realize that powerlessness in not necessarily hopelessness.
Powerlessness may just mean you are not in control right now.
Second, it is important to admit our powerlessness to God and others.