Day 37- testing our trust, or trusting our tests?

This morning I was looking at a passage in Luke’s Gospel about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (its chapter 4 verses 1-13), and once again I asked my usual question of ‘why would you go into the wilderness and get tempted?’ (I’m coming to the conclusion that its for the same reason many of us retreat from the busyness of life by running, walking dogs, playing games or going into the wilderness: to find peace and space for our thoughts… so if you’re needing to do some thinking, go find some wilderness where the wind can blow through your mind). Image

But then I got to thinking about trusting and testing… you see, in this passage Jesus trusts God- for an overarching plan, for material things and for his place in the world. You can see that in the responses he gives when tempted.

In contrast, the tempter tries to test those things- questioning who Jesus is, what God’s doing, how best to live.

Now, I think that questioning is good- faith without questions isn’t faith, its just acceptance.

Hear me again- questions are good- they show that we’re thinking.

Was that clear enough? The strength of our faith is shown by how much we can stretch it, rather than by how much we leave it alone.

If my faith in God can’t cope with the knocks and tumbles of life, then its not much of a faith, nor much of a God. Fortunately, all the stuff i’ve gone through so far has increased my trust.  I think at the heart of my thoughts lies the question of intention- if I question something that I trust, there is an implicit expectation that the object of my trust will come good (when I’m climbing I may ask ‘is this rope going to hold?’, but i do it whilst I’m in the process of climbing so I’m pretty much already committed and positive about the outcome!). If however I test something, often the implicit expectation is that I’m looking for weak spots or that I’ll push it until it breaks (when you test climbing rope you sometimes stretch or weight it until its irreversible damaged…there’s no way I’m going to use a rope thats been tested like that!). The thing is that someone has tested the ropes that we buy and use, and they’ve figured out a series of damaging and non-damaging tests so that I can go climbing with a rope that should hold. When we’re thinking about God we use all kinds of long theology words like the doctrine of whatever to express our thoughts, but basically those are our ‘non-destructive tests’- people have done some rigorous thinking about God and the world, with the hope that those who come after will find it easier to trust God as a result.

So- trusting and testing are both good and fine, but I need to remember to be wary of what I’m trying to achieve… life and faith are not about ‘how can I break this?’ but ‘how does this work?’

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4 thoughts on “Day 37- testing our trust, or trusting our tests?

  1. Great post. I’ve always felt that the psalms are filled with just as many questions as there are praises (maybe that’s a bit of exaggeration). I think questioning is a great way to engage our faith.

    For instance, “why would you go into the wilderness and get tempted?” is a great question. Searching for the answers is searching for God.

    1. Thanks for your comment- glad I’m not the only one asking those questions! The psalms are totally the place to go when we have questions- when I talk to folk who are angry with God I tell them to find a psalm that echoes their emotions or articulates their questions… it can really help folks to know that the Bible contains verses along the lines of ‘where are you God?’, and thats just for starters!

  2. Thank you. This week I should’ve been ordained and starting out on a new venture of life in full-time ministry: instead I’m sitting at home recovering from chemotherapy, with a year ahead of treatment. I feel pretty wildernessy, and pointless: so the questioning you pose is good and encourages me to move beyond simply “God is good” in spite of it all – to some kind of assimilation or joyful dance between “God is good” and “I feel fed-up and wildernessy”. I like your reminder of testing of that which we know to be strong, like a trusted rope.

    1. Bridget, thanks for your comment- its really encouraging to hear that this stuff is helping other people in some way. Really sorry to hear of your diagnosis, I hope and pray that this year will give you times of resting in God’s arms, chances to share your faith with others who’re struggling to simply survive the ordeal of their day and a greater love for One who loves you in all things.
      When things are sucky for me, a helpful thought pattern for me is something like ‘I know I trust in God, today I choose to trust in God again’… recognising the difficulties I’m facing and also my hopes.
      Peace & blessings.

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