Complicated: Playing the hand you’re dealt

by | Feb 2, 2020

A good friend once told me about a problem he was having with someone close. I won’t go into the details here, but what is essential to our topic for this week is my friend’s response when I asked a simple question for clarification. My friend said, “It’s complicated.”

Has this happened to you? You patiently listen to another person’s predicament. You try to dig a little deeper in a sincere effort to help. And the response comes back, “It’s complicated.”

Well, of course, it is complicated. Life is often complicated, even when we try to simplify the way we navigate life. Life is complicated because you and I are complicated. For one, we are lots of layers wrapped tightly around an inner child that is afraid. And our fears keep us tightly wrapped.

I wonder if God designed it to be this way? Sometimes I picture God as a sort of “super nerd” who marvels in complexity. Psalm 139 provides confirmation for such an observation. The Good News Translation reads, Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! (Psalm 139:14).

The field of theoretical biology makes the idea of complexity even more complicated by first looking at what it means to be complex. In a technical paper titled “The complexity of anatomical systems,” Fabio Grizzi and Maurizio Chiriva-Internati argue that complexity can exist both on a structural level and in terms of behavior.1 Apparently, the whole area of human anatomy is so complicated, that theoretical scientists see a need to break the subject down into degrees of complexity. My point is that we are complicated.

Scientists estimate that the human body consists of approximately 7 octillion atoms. I don’t think anyone actually counted them, but I’ll let that slide for now. Despite the huge number, we are mostly empty space. If the atoms compressed, we would be roughly the equivalent of a fly in a large cathedral.2 Are you convinced? We are complex beings, created by a super-nerd God, who must marvel at complexity.

And we live day-to-day on a very complex planet. Earth depends on a lot of very complicated relationships that include a star we call the sun, the atmosphere surrounding this planet, and the way the earth itself is structured. Including vast amounts of water, forests, and even golf courses. Just complicated enough that we let our leaders get by with denying that human greed is really destroying our home.

Our relationships with each other are complicated. We say one thing but mean another. We pretend to be someone different from who we think that the people around us will like us better if we can keep them at a distance. And they do the same thing to us. No wonder my friend’s response was, “It’s complicated!”

Despite the complications, God calls us to experience life as it comes our way. Buried in the section of the Old Testament that we call the wisdom section, we find the Book of Ecclesiastes. The Psalms are also found in the wisdom section along with Proverbs. The Message translation offers a glimpse into God’s view of our role in dealing with life’s challenges. “A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it” (Ecclesiastes 7:18).

A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.
Ecclesiastes 7:18

So while my friend is justified in his simplistic response to my question, there is no escape from reality for us who try to be faithful to the God who created us. We are who God created us to be. And despite what the voices in our heads might be shouting at us, despite what other people might claim about us, we are wonderfully made. Complex, yes. But also wonderfully complex.

Pastor Rick Warren addressed this subject in a sermon using a game of five-card poker where you receive no other cards. You can only play the hand you are dealt. Naming each card for one of the five factors that make up our identity, adds clarity to the question of “Who am I?”

Imagine that the first card you receive is your body chemistry. Your body chemistry includes your DNA. It is who you are physically. And you don’t get to choose your chemistry. And as a result of your body chemistry, you have particular issues that others may have as well, but you have your own combination. Our body chemistry affects our physical and mental health. Imagine that you are in a poker game, and God is dealing out the identity cards. Which body chemistry card did you get?

A second card lands in front of you. This card represents the connections in your life. In particular, your relationships in the first few years of your life. Your birth mother. Your birth father. Persons who fed you, changed your diapers, or met your other needs, or not. Your connections that resulted in abuse, feelings of love, abandonment, feelings of security, and others, shaped your identity.

The game is getting interesting as the third card lands face down. You pick up the card. This card represents the voices in your head. The things you say to yourself that no one else can hear. You pick up the fourth card. Your hand is almost complete.

The fourth card represents your circumstances. Car accidents, natural disasters, the elementary school you attended, your teachers, how many times you tried and failed, and more. Most of our circumstances happen without our input. Stuff happens.

The intensity of the game peaks. What sort of hand will you end up playing in this most critical game of life? You only get five cards. You can only play the hand that comes to you. The fifth card lands face up where everyone can see. This card represents your choices. Wait! This card isn’t like the others.

I get to make my choices. I may feel, at times, that I don’t really have a choice. But I do. This last card is a wild card. I can make choices that can change the effect of my other four cards. But how? What choices do I make?

The Daniel Plan is about making better choices to improve our holistic health. And you are invited to do just that. The choice is yours.

I can make choices that can change the affect of my other four cards.

If you haven’t yet signed up for the Daniel Plan, be sure to do so.3 Each person living in our community who signs up receives your very own copy of The Daniel Plan Journal.4 If you are not a part of the Asbury Community, we still invite you to participate with us, but we ask that you purchase a copy on your own. These journals can be purchased on Amazon or other vendors. You can also go to the store to buy this and other resources.

We worship each Sunday at 10:30 am. I hope to see you there. You can find more information about us on our website at

Pastor Tommy

1 Fabio Grizzi and Maurizio Chiriva-Internati, “The complexity of anatomical systems,” © 2005 Grizzi and Chiriva-Internati; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Publicly available. Retrieved from:

2 Brian Clegg. “20 amazing facts about the human body,”© Jan 2013. Retrieved from:

3 Warren, Rick, Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Mark Hyman. The Daniel Plan. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

4 Warren, Rick, and the Daniel Plan Team. The Daniel Plan Journal – 40 Days to a Healthier Life. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013.

A Community in Love with God, Each Other, and our Neighbors.