“It is what it is.”
The phrase has been floating around for years. It came to my attention as friends of mine from different circles and walks of life spoke the words. I noticed the phrase on television and the radio. Then I saw it on decorative signs in a couple of stores.
So I tried it on for a while.
What I found was that “it is what it is” can be a euphemism or a platitude that keeps us from recognizing what “it” isn’t. There is nothing wrong with accepting reality–except that so often our sense of reality isn’t the same as the Lord’s.
The words “it is what it is” bear the sort of powerful finality and magnitude as God’s Words: I AM who I AM. They suggest to us that our circumstance are sovereign and all that is to be done in response is to obey. If only we responded to the Lord’s declaration of sovereignty with the obedience we give to this phrase.
When we speak that much loved phrase, we are often actually saying:
- So deal with it
- Suck it up
- Forget changing anything
- Not my responsibility
- Too much work to alter this reality
- There’s nothing to be done about this
- If it is, that must be God’s will and I’m stuck
I struggle to find support for these attitudes -as enticing as they can be- in Scripture. And believe me, as one whose biggest pet-peeve is complaining about something you are unwilling to change, these words are tempting.
This phrase appears to relieve us of the need to stress out, to fight what we can’t beat, and to fret over what we don’t have control over. But so do these (much more powerful) words:
IT IS…All The Lord’s:
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1)
IT IS…Up to the Lord:
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.” (Daniel 2:20-22)
IT IS…In the Care of the Lord:
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:27)
IT IS…Present Before the Lord:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
…Not only is “it,” but so are you and I.
As we read these statements, we are reminded that what “it is” is His. When we begin the phrase “it is,” there is more power in remembering that things can change.
That there is one in charge.
That He cares to hear our prayers and concerns.
That the war is won.
That when we need to live through difficult things, we need not live resigned–“it” can be well with our soul because He is I AM.