Doubting Trust

Today’s headlines read from some action movie or sci-fi novel don’t they? Pandemic. That word used to cause the blood running through my veins to turn to ice and just the thought rendered me anxious. Dread and fear paralyzed me. There wasn’t enough money to pay me to watch a movie about it. But today in 2020 when the WHO has announced one, I am not panicked; there is fear but it’s not overwhelming. I’m amazed by this!

Am I concerned and taking precautions? Yes. As a person with an underlying medical condition (diabetes) I need to be careful. A decade ago I would have spiralled down a tunnel of fear. What’s changed?

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I know the work I’ve done to become more emotionally healthy plays a part. Combine it with the challenges of the last five or six years and my anxious edges have been smoothed out. Not gone but not as rough as they once were. The past year and a half my husband has been unemployed. Only recently did he accept a part-time contract position until June and after that the future remains one big question mark. 

Many doubts and questions have rolled around in my head the last few years. Why? Where did we/I go wrong? There are no answers and that made me feel abandoned by the God that we have spent a lifetime serving. Perhaps you’re feeling that way in these challenging and frightening times. Where is God in times of trouble? 

Sometimes He reveals Himself and other times He chooses to remain unseen. It doesn’t mean He’s not here. Its taken me too long to figure this out. The lesson was emphasized again last night when we were reading about Job and my son asked some hard questions. 

I stepped back and let my husband take the wheel on that one, being the pastor and all.  Panic flared in my chest because I didn’t have any answers for my son. Instead I was asking the same questions. Mark reminded us about trust. It’s not that we can’t question God – He can handle our questions and anger – but at some point we have to trust Him. It reminded me of Barnabas Piper’s book, Help My Unbelief, that I read a few years ago. Piper writes about mysteries and how some of those are going to remain unsolved this side of heaven. As Jesus Followers we have to learn how to accept that. To trust that God is bigger and knows better than any of us. Isaiah 55:9 says “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” There are times when those verses are comforting and other times when I don’t want to hear that. 

Piper writes, “Scripture doesn’t offer the answers to most mysteries that we want. It offers the ones God wants us to have…This is not an easy truth because it does not feel satisfying.” p. 75-76

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It’s true right? We have no idea why this sickness is spreading like wildfire across the globe. There are no answers for why one person gets cancer and another does not. We don’t always understand why a loved one walks away or no matter how hard we try, debt hangs over our heads like an anvil about to fall. Why do natural disasters affect some cities and not others? Why does it seem that some people just continue to get kicked when they are already down and out? 

I don’t know. And God isn’t saying much either.

In these years of uncertainty, I’ve learned that God is in control. Even when I try to yank it away from Him, turn my back on Him and scream at Him. He is in control of every second, every minute, of every day. Even if I don’t like what He’s doing. Even when I doubt what He’s doing. Maybe it’s taken a pandemic for me to realize that amidst all the questions, I still trust Him. I trust Him to carry us through these challenging and extreme times. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? 

Piper writes;

His steadfast love endures through all mystery; no matter how much the questions eat at us, His steadfast love endures forever. It endures through all pain…” p.77

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I don’t understand but I know that God’s love and care have been steadfast. I got part-time work just before Mark became unemployed after years of fruitless attempts. Did it solve all the problems? No but its evidence of God working in our lives and that He wasn’t surprised by a job loss. His kindness has been evident as I’ve struggled with my many questions, anger and doubt. He has patiently waited at the end of the driveway for me to return home. Our needs are met. He has not left the premises although many times I have accused him of doing so. His love has been enduring and everlasting. In the good and the bad. 

Why is God letting this happen? I don’t know. We may never know but the one thing I believe is He is with us and He is in control. He love is enduring and steadfast. That’s why I am not freaking out in 2020. I hope you find comfort in His Word and presence in these days ahead.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.     Psalm 20:7-8 (emphasis mine)

Author’s note: God also gave us sound minds; so use the one He gave you and make wise decisions. This is not a blog about being reckless or disobeying what those in authority are telling us is the best thing to do.

TURN to Trust

She knew that the Lord would provide the strength to accomplish His purpose.
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I finally emptied and put away some goodies I had gotten at a conference. I’d looked through it previously but had not done anything with it except separate the books out and then everything got shoved back in the bag to deal with “later.”

I’m pretty proud of myself. That bag could have sat there for a year. I know. I have a problem. I mean what’s the big deal? Empty the darn thing already. I could write several blogs on the issues that surround it but that’s not what I want to address today.

It’s what I found in the bag. Or rather had forgotten about. A sign. In more ways than one.

Because before clearing out the bag and putting everything away, I had been reading a book, Unlikely Rebel by Kelli Gotthardt. Sitting in her counsellor’s office she had been freaking out that she was going to mess up her kids. Her counsellor listens, then wisely says to Kelli, ‘ “This isn’t really about your kids, is it? This is about you learning to trust.” ‘ (p. 78, Unlikely Rebel)  Busted.

Just like Kelli, I have to learn to trust my kids with God. TURN to Him.  TURN to trusting Him to look after them, to love them, to care for them. I have to acknowledge that He can do all this better than I can. He can clean up my mess and mistakes. He can make it all better. Better than before even.

As parents we all have to come to this: to TURN to God and trust or go insane with worry, with control-itis (yes that’s a word!) and a whole host of other unhealthy issues.

Restless after reading, I decided to be productive and empty that bag. Get it up off the floor.

And then I came upon my sign. God was continuing this conversation with me.
Because it’s been an ongoing debate between me, myself and I and also with Him.

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As parents we all make mistakes with our children. It’s impossible not to because none of us are perfect. Even if we were, our children have minds of their own and interpret situations in different ways that we cannot always control. They may read circumstances or intentions wrong and come away with a wound that despite our best intentions, we could not have prevented.

I have to accept that. So do you.

At some point I have to trust God to walk my children through their issues. Just as He has been faithful to journey with me through mine. The only thing I can control here is to pray that they see their need for God, His grace and for truth to replace lies.

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She knew that the Lord would provide the strength to accomplish HIS purpose.

And not just with my kids. But with me too. He will finish what he has started. In me. Some days it feels like two steps forward and a hundred back. Other days we aren’t moving. At.All.

At these times I have to remind myself that He will accomplish HIS purpose. In me. In my kids. In my church. In my world. She knew that the Lord….

Some days I just need to know.

Finally as I’m glancing at the other word art I’d received in that bag, He finishes the conversation. It says: My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9

Guess what Jen? My power is made perfect in your weakness. All that stuff you think is weak, is imperfect, is a mess? It’s the stuff I use to make you whole. Show my power in your life, in your boys’ lives, in the church and in the world. I AM so much bigger than your weakness, your mistakes, your mess. My power is made perfect in your weakness. What are you doing wasting time worrying? Trust me, I AM.  Know that I AM. TURN to Me.

Whatever it is we are wrestling with today, whether it be kids, spouses, jobs, dreams, losses, I hope that you and I will know that the Lord… and we will trust Him to complete His purpose, and make his power perfect, in our lives and in the world around us.

I think that’s all I’m going to clean up today…