“How do I know I can trust you?”
“You can’t. That’s why it’s called trust.”
People are funny. We think placing our trust in an Unquestioningly Good God is some sort of impressive act of deep faith worthy of blessing and reward. But, that isn’t faith, and it certainly isn’t trust.
Faith is the evidence of things unseen. Trust is a risk.
Often, many people of faith choose to see only the good or seemingly just things God is reported to have done, because then trusting in Him, even in the idea that there is a Him, then seems…rational and possibly even sane. But the gentle rain sometimes becomes a raging flood, and the spark of a warm fire can catch a dry blade of grass and become an uncontrollable force in an instant. Ignoring this power, this violent streak, the terrible mysterious secrecy and foggy explanations, and the occasional temper tantrums of God make Him safer to trust, and so we often do. We need water, and we need warmth. The provision and comfort they give make us feel safe.
But God is not safe. Ask any Hebrew. To believe He is requires an arrogant sort of tunnel vision that ignores huge aspects of the God revealed in the unpredictable and often violent movements of the earth and sky, not to mention in the pages of the Bible. The God who so often works through people, whose kindness and cruelty often send us to our knees with equal force, is just not Always Good. The God in the pages of the Bible is a fire, a dangerous uncontrollable and fierce energy that burns deeper the closer one gets to the flames. Who trusts in the good intentions of wildfires but crazy people? Who has faith enough to let Him burn and rage His way through their house?
God is a wild God, a good and terrible God, just as prone to terrible acts of violence as He is to extraordinary gestures of both kindness and love, often for no other discernible reason than so we won’t ignore Him. His love is passionate, just like the love of we humans, who are created in His image according to published reports, only much more so. God, it seems, is far more human than we are, and that makes trusting Him all the more terrifying, because if one believes He is the power and energy that controls the universe, then one must admit He has proven throughout the pages of the bible and history that placing one’s trust in Him is a dangerous endeavor, and is as likely to ruin as it is to strengthen a person.
It isn’t easy to walk willingly into furnaces, and battling a wildfire is exhausting, especially if one is alone. I suppose this is why we need one another. We need to be encouraged: to give and be given courage, and we need help trying to endure the effects of the flames.
Flames subside eventually and wildfires diminish and smolder. Sometimes, the Fourth Man is revealed, and you find yourself and those who braved the flames with you broken but still somehow standing. Other times, you’re broken and left on blackened charred ground alone, and all you want is for the pain you’ve endured to have some purpose.
Maybe it does, I don’t know.
But, I do know this: in time, if you can bring yourself to open your eyes and look carefully, you’ll see new tender plants thriving on the cleansed and broken ground where a forest once grew. Life changes, often because of horrible events, but it goes on, and there is both comfort and an ache in that fact, but for their sake, we must get up and keep going. Those tender young plants need help to grow. So, stand up, and if you need to, take someone’s hand, and do what good you can. Each of us can be living water or warmth, offering the compassion and grace to those who are trying to walk among the ruins of the acts of both God and His dangerous instruments.