By Diana Bridges
Trust is in short supply among humans and many other earthlings. A case in point is my backyard birds. Regardless of my documented commitment to their well-being, they often eye me suspiciously when I’m glancing their way, and generally vacate the feeders by the patio as soon as I make even a quiet move in their direction. Likewise, my dogs, who got a rough start in life, are startled by wind, sudden movements, and the presence of anyone beyond the small number of family members they’ve vetted.
When it comes to trusting God, church folks have a great script. We sing about God’s great faithfulness, and his sovereignty over creation. We have read and maybe even memorized passages like this one, which speak eloquently about the steadfast love of God. However, trust is often easier in a theoretical “big picture” way than when we’re dealing with troublesome specifics. Somehow, we trust God with the world, but not with the illness of a loved one, conflict at work, or forgiveness.
The psalmist reminds God—and, thus, himself—that he is indeed merciful and forgiving, in the same way as the writer of the following epitaph (found at Elgin Catherdral):
Here lie I, Martin Elginbrodde:
Have mercy on my soul, Lord God,
As I would do, were I Lord God
And You were Martin Elginbrodde. (Appleton: The Oxford Book of Prayer)
Our trust problem is rooted in the fact that we’ve sometimes made God, whose commitment to us is well documented, synonymous with life, which is capricious. It’s complicated by our tendency to equate care and rescue. We’ll know we are on the long path to recovery when we begin to note the presence of God in the midst of trying circumstances and when we find ourselves reminding God—and ourselves—of his faithfulness.