by Patti Richter
She was unstoppable and courageous. At least her pink shirt said so. But my granddaughter’s sudden wailing revealed something else. She was rigid with fear after my sharp-toothed terrier rejected her affection.
When seven-year-old Molly suffered two wounds and received a few stiches for each, I gained a reminder about trusting my old dog. I had another refresher as well: not to trust myself. I had let my guard down.
That little accident was costly and disruptive since my visiting daughter and grandchildren missed their flight home that day. But we weren’t the only casualties in town—all fifty treatment rooms at the hospital’s ER were filled.
While God grants us a measure of physical strength, intellect, wealth, and influence, along with supportive families, friends, churches, and communities, any of these can fail us—sometimes in a moment. Like all created things, people are subject to evil, injury, loss, and reversal, besides the natural course of decay.
Our self-empowerment-loving culture plies us with assurances that we can accomplish whatever we aspire to—the power lies within us. While this idea is partially true, God’s Word adds wisdom: “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong . . . time and chance happen to them all” (Ecclesiastes 9:11 ESV).
Sometimes we’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time, like the eighteen people who had climbed a tower on the day it collapsed. Jesus spoke of the awful event to instruct his followers that those who suffer calamities are no worse than others, warning that all of us sin sufficiently to merit punishment and that, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4, 5 ESV).
Those who love God are not immune to suffering and loss, and it’s human to respond to pain with howling. The writer of Psalm 73 confessed, “When my soul was embittered . . . I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless . . . you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel” (vss. 21 – 24 ESV).
The author C.S. Lewis observed, “Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is.” An accident or incident that wrecks our plans can trigger any tendency toward anger and the need to blame someone. Such emotions reveal a faith issue: Why did God allow it to happen? Sudden misfortune may leave us sullen or depressed, which speaks to our trust level, saying, Either God doesn’t care about me or else he can’t fix this.
While we know to trust in God above all else, it may help us to undergo a test now and then to prove whether our head knowledge has spread to our deeper fibers. An actual driving test exposes weaknesses unseen in the written exam we passed after some reading. Proverbs 17:3 says, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts” (ESV).
Any poor “test” results can help us improve our trust-in-God quotient, as we learn to no longer trust in ourselves. This will yield a better outcome after our next round of trouble, which will come as surely “as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7 ESV). Difficult circumstances, if we let them drive us toward God, allow us to experience his abiding presence. Then we’ll be courageous for the right reason.
In me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33 ESV
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.
Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.
Join the conversation: What tests have improved your ability to trust God?