How do you find God in time when bad things happen? How do you have faith when it seems we see more bad then good? These were recently asked of me by students and you know what my answer was? Silence and I was silent for a few moments and then I asked, “Do you trust God”?
Silence then was presented to me by this group of young people and I asked again, “Do you trust God” and “Do you think God does this to hurt us”?
The dialogue that followed was one many of us deal with alone or as teens or hey even as adults. The part that is hard is this…”Do we trust and can we trust God?
Trust may seem strong to ask. I mean this TRUST is something we build up with people over time. I TRUST few people completely, like my wife and my mom. I TRUST that people are mostly good and I TRUST GOD! I TRUST that God loves me and all people. I TRUST that God’s not sitting up in heaven just waiting to give people problems like a doctor prescribes medicine, “OH, DO I HAVE SOMETHING FOR YOU”!
I presented the idea of faith as trust. We always try to answer the question “what is faith” with long papers and books and years of research and yet to me the clearest way to talk about it is…DO YOU TRUST GOD? I mean some of the greatest people in the Bible had trust in God. Oh sure they may have resisted, but who doesn’t when presented with a really hard job.
GOD: OK, so Noah, I am going to FLOOD THE EARTH and I want you to build this big ship.
Noah: Wait, I am sorry? You are going to what?
GOD: Flood the earth, but I need you to get a lot done, so let’s hold questions till the end.
Noah: The entire Earth, you are going to flood everywhere.
GOD: Noah, I just told you this. We need to work on your listening skills. So I have given you the dimensions and instructions on what to do once the ship is built.
NOAH: Ok, so I need to convince my family to help me build this because GOD says so.
GOD: YUP! Ok, good you understand because man when I give other people opportunity they just want to run away.
Ok, so maybe it was not like that exactly, but I used some inspiration from Evan Almighty. I mean I trust God used that movie to help us all and why mess with a well told modern adaptation?
So, I asked about trusting GOD and I got “well that is really hard” (which is what I wanted and secretly hoped for). We discussed the ideas of faith and how hard it always is and what we are able to experience if we allow ourselves to trust.
My mom and I had a talk last week about this. When I need some grounding in regard to what I am struggling with I call Martha. Because I trust her and with this she has much more experience and spent many years after my dad died dealing with this.
I talked to her about God not giving us more than we can handle vs. life giving us things we don’t think we can handle and GOD giving us the ability to handle them. She had a few great points that I want to do my best to paraphrase below.
I don’t think we can sit around and blame GOD for bad things, because we see them as bad, we don’t see the future. Would I have wanted your dad back over anything else? Of course! Yet, medically I knew if we got him back he would not have been the person he was before his heart stopped and brain was damaged. I would have loved him no less, but 11 years looking back I can see that. 6 months out I could not and 2 years out I struggled. It is hard to be single alone and scared after 30+ years of not, but I am in a good place now and happy again and GOD has also given me time to see I would be.
Now so you know, my mom had he knee replaced in December 2010. She calls this “her miracle” she was almost completely crippled and walking even up the stairs in her house was a challenge. Yet only 3 months since this surgery, she is planning a trip to St. Louis with my sisters and me and then coming back to go through all the pain and surgery and recovery again. She TRUSTS the surgery will do the same for the other knee. GOD has given her another chance to live at 67. I mean it is not a heart or near death experience, but it is the chance to go out and see the world again. It is the opportunity to appreciate what she lost for so long and to move without pain.
So, like so many of my youth looking to me for answers they want, I look to my elders for answers and I see them in a man crippled by a stroke who never complained and accepted this and the time GOD gave him with family and friends.
I see it in youth given the chance to love friends at church they may never have become friends with outside of church.
I see it in me and my chance to understand that I am just sometimes a little too much like Jonah and often not enough like David and you know what…I think that is a good thing. Why? Because it lets me look back and laugh and say…OH! So what you were teaching me was x. Wow, wouldn’t a quick burning bush been easier? Then again, maybe I need to watch what I ask for?
GOD IS THERE, in everything. TRUST ME.