4 words for Advent, part 2: trust

I've been thinking about trust a lot lately, and how difficult it is to take trust out of the theoretical realm, and to wear it around in the real world.


I'm supposed to trust the big, mysterious purpose of God that I know about in my head:

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.  (Isaiah 40:5)

While at the same time, living through the refiner's fire that I feel in my heart:

But who may abide the day of his coming?  And who shall stand when He appeareth?  For He is like a refiner's fire.  (Malachi 3:2)

And He shall purify the Sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.  (Malachi 3:1-3)

I find it very difficult to hold those two things together, because I've found the refiner's fire to be a pretty painful place at times, and when I'm in pain, I'm just in pain.  I lose track of bigger purposes.  

I used to feel guilty about that, but in recent years I've started to think about it differently.

I've brought four children into the world through hard labor, and on zero of those four occasions could I think about world peace or clean water or equitable health care.  I completely lost track of anything outside of my pain, even though a wonderful big purpose was immediately underway.

The fortunate thing, though, is that on every one of those occasions I was surrounded by people whom I could trust to care for me, when I couldn't take care of myself, much less anybody else.

And I think that's how we get through the refiner's fire, too:  

When we are in pain, we trust Love to carry us through.  

I think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating drops of blood and begging to have the cup taken away, and the angels came and comforted him.  Jesus trusted God so much that he could say anything, feel anything, throw it all out there just the way it was, and be there, open to receive the comfort.

Here is what I know about God: 

He doesn't get sick of us.  

He doesn't think we're too much.  

He never runs out of options when it comes to our redemption.

And somehow, He is weaving together all the intricacies of my life, and your life, and all the lives on earth, into a loving whole that gives him glory.  

The big picture is:

God is doing something spectacular in all our refiner's fires.  

There is no shame in the pain, only hope for redemption ahead.

And when I'm in the middle of it all, my job is:

Tell the truth, trust the Love, receive the comfort.  

Let God worry about the big picture.  It's not my job anyway.

I can say this today, because I'm feeling pretty much okay right now.  

Tomorrow might be another story, though, and I may need you to hold my hand and remind me that the love of God is true, and his purposes can be trusted.  Even, and especially, in the refiner's fire.

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