“Inshallah”. Growing up in a Coptic community and knowing very little Arabic, this is one of the few words I’ve picked up. Sometimes it’s just a magical word our parents use instead of saying “no”.
Me: “Can I go to the movies tomorrow? Aladdin just came out!”
Me: “Dad can you sign me up for summer
camp? Forms were due 5 days ago and tant said no Egyptian timing!”
With just one word, we’ve learned to release ourselves from responsibility! Let’s take this word into context beyond just a reflex answer that our elders use. What if we think of it as an answer to much bigger questions about our future: Will I get into the school I want? Will I get to work my dream job? Will I have a happy family one day? Or maybe even the short‐term questions about tomorrow: Will I do well on my test? Will I make the soccer team? Will me and my friend stop fighting and make up? Will I be allowed to go on the trip?
These are just simple examples but take a moment to reflect and think of any questions or worries that you have about your future.
“Inshallah” translates to “God willing”. God willing? What’s that supposed to mean? Nothing’s going to happen unless God is willing? So what… I can just sit back and wait for things to happen? But I’ve learned to work hard and that things are in my control. Aren’t they? None of us really know what our future looks like, but we’re told that God does. If God is in control of everything, what am I really accountable for? What’s in my hands and what’s in God’s hands? Where’s the balance? This opens a complex topic, understanding our free will and responsibility in combination with God’s omniscience, sovereignty and ultimate power. Let’s look to the Bible for answers.
For the things I can control:
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23‐24 ‐ Do your best and God will reward you!
But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.
Galatians 6:4‐5 ‐ You are responsible for your own actions.
For the things I can’t control:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5‐6 – Put your trust in God and he will guide you!
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6‐7 – God’s will is beyond our understanding, pray, be thankful and never worry.
So really, it’s simple. We do have control, and we are responsible to use the opportunities that we have to the fullest. We should always do our best and we are fully accountable for our actions. We are responsible for the present, the choices we make, and the steps we take to achieve our goals. God gives us gifts & opportunities and it matters how we use them.
At the same time, we’re humans and we’re limited. We don’t know the future. But God sees our efforts and He decides what happens next. He knows the outcome that is ultimately the best for us. We may not always agree or fully understand His plan, but God sees far beyond what we know.
We can take comfort in the fact that whatever is beyond our control, is in control of the One who created us out of His purest love, cares for us unconditionally, and does what is best for us despite our imperfections. As Christians, we know that our future isn’t just some abstract fate. We are blessed to know God and that we can trust in Him and that it is his ultimate goodness that rules over our lives.
I’ll end with a phrase I like much more than Inshallah:
“Do your best and God will do the rest!”