November 2, 2018

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Change your mindset, step out in faith and always trust in God

Patti LambHave you ever found yourself in a “faith valley?” By that, I mean a place where your spiritual life would really benefit from an answered prayer or an unexpected blessing or something in the “win” column?

Recently, I took a walk with a girlfriend on a brisk fall Saturday morning.

She shared that she feels there’s been some interference between God and her.

“It’s like the heavenly cell towers are down, and my prayers aren’t quite reaching his ears,” she said.

My friend explained that she sensed some sort of disconnect, like communication means were broken and it felt like God couldn’t hear her prayers—or even her praise.

I could relate with her feelings and told her that I was in need of a faith infusion, too.

We both expressed that we know God is good—all the time—but there are points in our spiritual journeys when he feels far away. Our conversation turned to a few of our friends, who were also encountering some “faith testers” in various forms.

One friend was nervously awaiting the outcome of her mother’s medical tests; another friend’s marriage was undergoing turbulence. These friends of ours, close to God and faithful to him in every way, also struggle and encounter faith valleys. No one seems to be exempt from the stings of this earthly life.

I called my girlfriend later that weekend to share an entry I read from a devotional book called Jesus Always by Sarah Young.

“Trust in my unfailing love—thanking me for the good you do not see. When evil seems to be flourishing in the world around you, it can look as if things are spinning out of control. But rest assured: I’m not wringing my hands helplessly, wondering what to do next. I am still in control, and there is behind-the-scenes goodness in the midst of the turmoil. So I urge you to thank me not only for the blessings you can see, but for the ones you cannot see. … You must not let confusing circumstances shake your faith in me. When your world feels unsteady, the disciplines of trusting and thanking me serve to stabilize you.”

The writer referenced St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” (Rom 11:33)

God’s ways are so far above anything our finite human minds can comprehend.

I circled back to the last line of the passage, and suggested to my friend that we “use the disciplines of trusting and thanking to stabilize us.”

We came up with a new prayer mantra to cling to when life’s circumstances present challenges to our faith: “I trust you. I thank you. I love you. Amen.”

My friend and I realize that heaven’s cell towers aren’t down and we’re still getting service, but we need to change our mindsets and step out in faith.

She texted me with a quote from author John Ortberg: “Peace does not lie in getting God to give me other circumstances. Peace lies in finding God in these circumstances.”

And that’s what I think we all truly struggle with—acceptance of God’s will. I keep finding myself praying for resolution A, B or C to this or that petition, but my prayer should be to acknowledge that God, creator of heaven and Earth, has a firmer grasp on what’s best for me than my tiny human brain can conceive.

Gracious God, wherever we are today, please help us find you there.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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