Can I trust you, Lord (by Sheila Jacobs)
Can I trust you, Lord (by Sheila Jacobs)
Very few of us have not been through a break-up or some sort, whether a relationship or a friendship. We all know how painful it can be. The closer you are – or were – to someone, the worse it is. Regrets, broken dreams, sometimes betrayal… and the accompanying feelings of disappointment, anger and cynicism.
The fact is, people are imperfect. They let us down. They leave us. Sometimes they want to, and sometimes they don’t. And of course, we let them down, too.
Any kind of perceived ‘failure’ can result in a loss of self-esteem, self-worth – and let’s be honest – even an anger with God for ‘letting it happen’.
So what should we do if we find ourselves hurt and disillusioned?
Sometimes, when someone ‘vents’ at us, we know the problem is with them and not with us. It’s because they are deeply unhappy with something (or someone) in their own life. Likewise with our heavenly Father. When our prayers get heated, or we don’t want to talk to God at all, he waits patiently, and compassionately, for he knows where the source of our anger lies.
I only realised I was angry with God about some circumstances in my own life when taking part in a Lectio Divina group a while ago. I am a member of an Elim Pentecostal church, but I do enjoy quiet Ignatian spirituality – which I learned at an Augustinian priory not far from where I live – and have sought to make it a part not only of my own private time with God, but also with friends and in my small group. This kind of Bible meditation involves looking at a passage of scripture and really ‘putting yourself into it’, as if you were really there, perhaps one of the characters, or standing by, watching the action.
On this occasion, we were looking at the passage in Mark’s Gospel about Jesus healing a paralysed man. His four friends had broken through the roof of the house where Jesus was, because they couldn’t get him through the crowds. He was lowered down on his mat, and ended up in front of Jesus. Jesus forgave his sin, much to the chagrin of the watching religious leaders, and then went on to heal him (Mark 2:1-12).
When I ‘put myself into the scene’, I was surprised to find myself identifying with the paralytic. I felt it was me lying there and Jesus telling me my sins were forgiven. But rather than springing to my feet in joy, I still lay there, fuming. Then I started to complain loudly to Jesus about my current lot in life and how I felt paralysed by my circumstances.
It suddenly felt as if Jesus and I were alone; it was as if he sat down, and listened patiently until I was exhausted. Then he proffered a hand and said, ‘Do you want to get up now?’ And I found myself muttering, ‘Can I really trust you?’ After this, it seemed that any Bible passage I looked at – mostly in the Gospels of Mark and Luke – seemed to be saying the same thing: Trust me! Have faith!
‘Lord, I know I need to let go,’ I sighed in the end, ‘and let you do whatever it is you want to do. I’ve got to get my hands off the situation and trust that you are in control. I’m not in control of my life, God… and I’ve got to get to the place where that’s OK.’
One of my friends told me that it might help to ‘write a letter to God’. I agreed to try that. Then she said, ‘Oh, and then write a reply.’ This startled me. But she grinned and said, ‘Really, try it. Write down what you think God would say in response to your letter.’ So I catalogued a whole stream of grievances, starting ‘Dear God’ and finishing ‘Love Sheila’ – and at the end, I realised I knew what he would reply:
Love from God.
And in that knowing was peace. He knew.
This led on to me writing down some things that God had done for me in the past, and also things that I could be grateful for every day. (Another positive thing would be to write down how much he loves us as unique individuals, and thanking him for that.)
Lectio Divina, writing a letter to God, jotting down what God has done in the past, and things we can be grateful for today, may not take away pain and sorrow overnight – but they may help. Still, some things are valleys to be walked through. You can’t put a sticking plaster over a broken bone and expect it to be healed immediately. However, when we are feeling alone, angry or defeated, we need to remember the One who comes to us in times of crisis and darkness. The One who says he will never leave us or forsake us. Do we really trust him with our lives and our futures, believing he has good plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11-13)? We have to remember that although people let us down, and we let them down, God will never let us down. He loves us, values us, and is utterly reliable – even in the times when life hits us hard and we just don’t understand.
I read somewhere that when someone is drowning, you can’t simply jump in and rescue them because in their panic they will drag you down with them. You have to wait for them to stop struggling before you can rescue them. It’s only when they are at the point of exhaustion and giving up that you can pull them to safety.
If you feel as if you are drowning today, let go, and let God rescue you. He really has got good plans. But we won’t find out what they are until we let go. Moving on into whatever God has planned for us – a new relationship, a new ministry, a new job, whatever – always takes a step of faith. Let’s trust him with tomorrow, and make him our primary relationship.