A battle rages in my heart. Sometimes faith and trust are triumphant, but then hopelessness and fear gain the upper hand. I don’t always know which side I am fighting for. I would love to say that I am constantly striving to cling to faith and trust, but I have to admit that I find myself rehearsing all the reasons why it is safest to not hope. We are in debt and more-so everyday. We have no jobs–no savings. Our newly-earned degrees don’t mean much to most employers. The only direction we hear from God sounds something like “Nope, not that way…” My husband spends hours every day searching for jobs, filling out applications, modifying his resume, and making contacts, but so far no one seems to have been directed to snatch us up. Are we that flawed that God has no use for us right now. Or maybe it is just me…
My favorite way to kindle and feed despair is to tell myself that even though God is good and always faithful to His promises, He never promised that we would be comfortable. He didn’t promise a meaningful livelihood. He doesn’t always intervene. Other people who love God are hurting and struggling and God is not rescuing them from their circumstances. Sometimes His plans for us involve other people who may not listen or obey. There is no way to know that He won’t just let us experience the consequences of our choices, a weak economy, and a troubled world. And for the icing, I reminisce about all the times in our life that things have been hard and God didn’t save us from it. In other words, I am terrified to hope because I might be let down–so I wallow in doubt. I know, I know–my hope should be in God and His character, not in particular circumstances that I wish He would bring about. Still, it seems like hoping to see God’s goodness in our future has to have some kind of face.
Jesus models for us how to submit to God’s will even when it is painful. However, he also taught us to pray specifically, persistently, and with the expectation that the answer would bring us joy and comfort. The scriptural concept of God’s goodness involves much more than an understanding that everything He does is good because He is the one doing it and He is always right. God shows Himself to be kind, merciful, generous, empathetic, forgiving, and genuinely delighting in the giving of good gifts to his kids. In addition to all of this, He is intimately involved in the details of our lives. (I’m to lazy to look up the scripture references to share, but I know it’s all there!) I can and should expect His activity in my life and circumstances to reflect these truths. I can’t know exactly what He’ll do, but I can have some idea of the kinds of good things He likes to do.
Christians like to talk about how God created man with a free moral will because He wants a reciprocal love-relationship, not a mandatory, programmed response. We know that He doesn’t want robots; He wants children, friends. Sometimes I suspect, though, that I would like God to be a bit more like a robot. I want to know that He will respond this way in one set of circumstances and that way in another so I always know exactly what to expect. How convenient it would be if God would conduct himself in a such a way that I could just wait for His automated response! Then trusting Him would be so easy.
Actually, then trust in Him wouldn’t be required at all. Neither would relationship, really. It would be a bit like a marriage where He commits to a few things that would make her feel fairly comfortable and secure, and she commits to stay faithful. The end. Even if they both upheld the essentials of their contract, there would be no depth to their relationship. I say I want to know God, learn His heart, and develop my relationship with Him. I want to be someone He can confide in and count on. I really can’t have both though. Robot God cannot be relationship God. He won’t do the former, but unless I am willing to trust Him, He can’t do the latter.
In the end, I cannot entertain or justify hopelessness and fear. I must recognize the cowardice that motivates those thoughts and the enemy who loves to suggest them. After that, victory is pretty simple–take a refresher course on God’s character, think about all the ways He has sustained and blessed me in the past, and hold on tight to truth!