Religion

A Year in the Word: He’s Not Our Friend, He’s Our Father

We don’t have to understand God, we just have to trust

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage. Wait for the Lord!—Psalm 27:14

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.—Matthew 10:29-31

 

Perhaps it’s naïve for a young, healthy, single woman to make sweeping statements like, “The hardest thing about being a Christian is …” There’s much I haven’t experienced in life, and I suppose I might eat my words in a decade or two. But with all the people I’ve loved and all the books I’ve read, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to stand up and declare:

The hardest thing about being a Christian is trusting God.

This is what we’re struggling with when we suffer. “Why doesn’t God heal her?” “When will God convert him?” “How much longer do I have to endure this?”

We want so badly, as God’s children, to trust that he’s doing what needs to be done. We want to believe that he has us in mind, that he’s working all things for our good (Romans 8:28), but the evidence suggests otherwise. We cry out in prayer, and he stays silent or simply refuses. In the face of unanswered prayer after unanswered prayer, how do we continue to trust?

We step back and remind ourselves what it means that he is God. It means that he knows better than we do. That his love for us drives all that he does and that his love for us reaches beyond today’s happiness into eternity. It means that he’s not our friend but our Father, and fathers often do stern or scary or seemingly unkind things for the good of their children.

The most powerful lesson the Old Testament Jews have taught me comes through their incessant repetitions of the good things of the past. Every other page of the Old Testament, it seems, is recounting again the story of God rescuing the Israelites from Pharaoh and his army. Again and again God’s people remind themselves: we might not know what he’s doing ,but we know who he is. He is for us. He is good. His ways are not our ways. And we don’t have to understand him, we just have to trust.

So we wait for the Lord as we wait on the Lord. We serve him with our lives, even when we can’t see what he’s doing. We let our hearts take courage in the certainty — chosen if not felt — that God is for us.

Because if it’s true that he loves us, then we don’t have to worry or fear. I love the gentle way Jesus speaks in this passage from Matthew. I feel like a hungry little street urchin with tear tracks on my dirty cheeks looking into the eyes of my big brother. “Sweet girl, look how God takes care of the sparrows. He knows each of them by name, sees where they go and what they do. He cares when they fall and when they go hungry. And those are just birds! How can you believe he doesn’t care about you, see you, love you? He knows every hair on your head, every tear you cry, every smile, every half-dreamed dream. He knows your hunger and your fear and your joy and your anger and he loves you all the same. Don’t be afraid, little one. Your Father will take care of you.”

I know Matthew recounts Jesus speaking these words to the disciples before he sends them out on the terrifying mission of proclaiming the Gospel in hostile territory and I don’t doubt that he did. But I can’t help thinking that words this simple and childlike must have been spoken first to a brokenhearted little one. And I’m awfully grateful for the gentle way he reminds us: he’s got this. He is God, and we are not.

The devotion to Divine Mercy, the conviction that God’s love is stronger than our foulest sin, is all wrapped up in the words “Jesus, I trust in you.” The struggle of the Christian life is to live as though that were true until it becomes true, to wait for the Lord, to live beyond fear.

Wherever your darkness and fears lie right now, I pray that God holds you close and reminds you that he deserves your trust, even if you can’t see what he’s doing.

Psalm 27 14
Matthew 10 29-31 (1)

 

Meg Hunter-Kilmer writes for her blog “Held by His Pierced Hands” and travels around the country speaking to youth and adults, leading retreats and parish missions. In this series on “A Year in the Word,” she selects passages from sacred scripture to memorize and make one’s own.