Previously I had noted that the book we are reading for this current unit of CPE is Brennan Manning’s Ruthless Trust. I had also noted how the issue of trusting in God – what for? how much? how far? – has been something I’ve been wrestling with as of late. Yesterday I spoke in the class about how one of the hindrances to our trust in God is our own forgetfulness. Looking back on the history of Israel, it is not their lack of faith that is apparent, it is their lack of trust. Manning uses the equation of faith + hope = trust in his book. So if was not faith they were lacking, perhaps it was hope. They lacked trust not because they thought He was less than God, but because they didn’t believe he had their best intentions in mind. How many times do you read in the Exodus account of the Israelites moaning to God, “You’ve led us out here to die! There’s no water! There’s no food! We should have stayed in Egypt!”? No matter what God led them through in the past and how often they are called to remember it, you get the sense that the Israelites thought God was a lemming leading them over the cliff.
In the same way, I feel – perhaps we all feel – about God in the same way from time to time. We see the disaster in the world and wonder if that’s what God has in mind for us. I felt this way when watching a 10 year old die of terminal cancer. I felt this way when our house didn’t sell for over a year and we carried two mortgages on top of a pile of other debts. A poster I saw that lampooned the current culture of motivational workplace artwork featured an ocean with the tip of a freighter sticking out at a precarious angle from the water, the caption reading: “It could be that the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others.” Sick as it is, it makes sense in a world where, if we want, we can be surrounded with news of death, disease, mayhem, blood, tears, flood, loss and heartache 24/7. Perhaps, like the author and cynic writes, “God is Not Good”?
But God is good. Not only that but G-double-O-D good. I know that. But knowing and trusting are two different things. Knowing is in the head. Trust is in the gut (I was going to say heart but for some reason gut strikes me as more accurate and true). Knowing looks at what is and what has been. Trust looks ahead to what might be, which is never certain. Even my knowledge is not really certain, for I do not trust myself.
And here is a turn – I don’t think I trust people either, for the same reason I don’t trust God.