22 June 2010

ruthless trust :: number three

This is where (as far as I can see) the rubber meets the road: trusting God when in the face of unspeakable hurt and suffering. These, on the road of trust, are the speed bumps, the detours, and the road blocks. These are the things that make us wonder if we should turn ourselves around and go back to where we came from.

When the doctor calls and it is cancer. When the job is lost. When the house burns to the ground. When another miscarriage is suffered. When there aren't two pennies to rub together. When a spouse says "I don't love you anymore."

I believe that these are the kinds of moments that shape and begin to define trust in us.

That being said, there is not much else I can say that is not going to sound small and trite in my own mind. Megan, the author of a blog I've been following recently (referred to me for the similarity of their circumstances and ours), lost her son this past week. Baby Cohen, like Ewan, was diagnosed with multiple heart defects in the womb. And at just ten or eleven days old, his earthly life has ended. He never left the hospital, never got to breathe the open air. He never had a life that wasn't connected to tubes and wires.

I know it wouldn't make it hurt any less if I got the answer, but I still ask "why"? I know these things happen and that God is still God in the face of it, but it still shakes me when they do. I still maintain that God is good and can bring good even out of the most inexplicable suffering, but sometimes it is through gritted teeth.

Manning doesn't pretend to offer any easy answers either. In fact, he stands with the reader in the questioning:

"The ubiquitous presence of pain and suffering -- unwanted, apparently undeserved, and not amendable to explanation or remedy -- poses an enormous obstacle to unfailing trust in the infinite goodness of God. How does one dare to propose a way of trust in the face of raw, undifferentiated heartache, cosmic disorder, and the terror of history?

"Any Christian writer who ignores these grim realities or dismisses them as inconsequential is either naive, dishonest, or disconnected from the trust-busting anguish of many struggling seekers and believers."

Trust-busting anguish: truly spoken. I'm not sure that anyone will ever make sense of the great suffering and evil we witness and experience in this world as long as we are this side of heaven.

But Manning leaves us with this, too: "Anyone God uses significantly is always deeply wounded." It is something, but I imagine this truth is cold comfort to a mother who gave birth to and said goodbye to her baby in the space of two weeks. If we're honest, I think we can hold both of these truths: understanding that God will use this for good beyond anything we can imagine, and that there's a grieving mother in Texas who just wants to hold her baby.

So where do we go from here? Our friend Brennan does have a suggestion, and that is to "gaze on the vast, unbounded ocean of the glory of God."  He continues, "Irenaeus, a disciple of the apostle John, becomes our guide in his five-volume work Against the Heresy of Gnosticism. The oft-quoted first clause of one compound sentence reads, 'The glory of God is the human being fully alive.' But the less-quoted second clause reads, 'and the life of the human consists in beholding God.'" (p. 48)

We are, each one of us, wounded. Let us behold Him together. Perhaps there will be no answers found there that will satisfy our questioning, but maybe -- just maybe -- we will catch a glimpse of His face.


  1. "Anyone God uses significantly is always deeply wounded."

    I think I need to blog this today. I'm crumbling under this post...

  2. My heart breaks to read this . . . praying today.

  3. i'm grateful for these glimpses into your beautiful heart. i wrestle with trust every single day, and seeing it play out in your own journey with the Lord is... amazing. thank you.

  4. I'm not sure I have words... but I'm glad I read this today, on a day where my heart is aching with the sort of deeply private wounds that there aren't quite words for... maybe we will catch a glimpse of his face... oh I long for that to be true.

  5. Thank you for sharing, Kirsten.