Learned Helplessness is a behavioral concept discovered by psychologists Martin Selligman and Steven F. Maier. Simple put, learned helplessness occurs when a person behaves in a helpless manner in situations beyond his or her control, even if there are opportunities for relief or change. For example, Anthony is on his last semester in college and has waited this long to take the required freshman-level Speech class. This is because he feels incapable of carrying out even the simplest public-speaking assignments, like saying grace before a church potluck. He believes that nothing can help him overcome his fear of public speaking, and so he performs poorly in such assignments.
The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the cure to learned helplessness. The apostle Paul wrote, “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT).
Did you notice that Paul prayed that believers would understand the incredible power that they have in Christ? This means that there are many Christians who do not know and understand how powerful they really are. Instead, they feel helpless in face of the challenges of daily life. They succumb so easily to temptations. They appear hopelessly addicted to sexual immorality, drugs, pornography, alcoholism, etc. This is learned helplessness in its fullest expression. The good news is that we already possess God’s incredibly great power to overcome these challenges, temptations and addictions.
Just how great is this power that resides within us? Paul said, “This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.” That’s a lot of power, right? I think raising the dead is much more difficult than overcoming one’s fear of public speaking, won’t you agree? Finding a way to work well under a difficult boss or to get rid of that unhealthy vice or habit is nothing compared to the incredibly great power that resides in us.
You and I are not helpless. Thanks to the resurrection of Christ, I can confidently say, “I’ve got the power!” Let’s live this new week in that power, okay?