The Hidden Blessing of Powerlessness


I once heard a true story of a woman who was married to a multi-millionaire. For all her married life anything she desired was available to her. Her husband was a workaholic and so she was mostly free to direct her own life. Then, as is the case with many hard driving entrepreneurs, her husband died of a heart attack. She was left with millions of dollars, but no life partner.

Within a few short years she lost almost everything: all of the money, all of the property. She had no idea how to handle wealth and had very poor financial advisors. She sold off what she could of personal belongings, but eventually ended up having to live on SSI benefits.

It is a sad story, except she wasn’t sad.

In recounting the story the woman said it was the happiest she had been in many, many years. While married she had to act like the wife of a successful man – and the expectations were pretty stringent. Now, living in an adult retirement community that accepts her SSI benefits, she is totally free from financial worry. And she is actually free to live in the moment instead of worrying about the future.

The most difficult part of this scenario, at least for most of us, is the involuntary nature of the simple life that she was forced into. It was not her choice to surrender the previous lifestyle that she was living. What was her choice, obviously, was her willingness to process and accept the outcome without bitterness and to reinterpret her situation with optimism.

One of the hidden blessings for her might have been that the new relationships that she experienced were more authentic. There were not the same pressures for pretense. No one was looking over her shoulder or suggesting friends based on opportunity or strategic connections.

I don’t know if this woman held a Christian worldview, but those of us that do can see the implications of living a life of surrender to a power greater than ourselves. When we no longer have control over certain aspects of our life we are faced with a choice whether to trust God or not. This is where we decide whether God is for us or against us, whether He is good, whether He is present, or uninterested and unavailable in our lives.

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