By Carolyn Shields, listening to the night crickets
I remember thinking freshmen year about how we can actually trust in God, and I would say to a girlfriend, 'Yeah, I trust Him' and shrug. Now what?
Was that enough? Saying it?
Like shouldn't I be doing something to show it? But I really believed it, that I truly trusted Him, but saying it simply wasn't enough for me, and I wanted to prove it....and womenfolk, last night I had this revelation: maybe sometimes that's why God allows us to go through stupid tests and trials...to show ourselves that we trust Him, to prove to ourselves that He is merciful and ever patient and always there. Because of course we trust Him, and of course He knows that, but I think maybe He knows we need to remind our own selves that. Maybe if we just had more faith in ourselves we wouldn't have to go through heartache and temptations.
But what even IS faith? We recognize it in others, we form it on our lips, and we find it in scripture, but ladies, it terrifies me that I can't even give this virtue a definition. And lately I've been thinking about how I have believed that the only way to acquire cardinal virtues is through suffering and trials and tests...that's how I've been blessed with my reflections anyway, by this process of trial, revelation, peace.
But last night I came across a whole new crater in my mind: What if our Holy wants us to be happy as we pursue these virtues?
What if, now hear me out, what if our Holy doesn't want us to have to undergo these trials to achieve interior peace? But what if we, as humans, need to? You know, because we are so baffled about why someone so Good, who literally IS Good, would ever give us anything?
So what if we need these trials to show ourselves that we can show God we are worthy of His love?
Take Joshua 6.
"And to Joshua the Lord said, 'I have delivered Jericho and its king into your power. Have all the soldiers circle the city, marching once around it. Do this for six days, with seven priests carrying ram's horns ahead of the ark. On the seventh day march around the city seven times, and have the priests blow the horns. When they give a long blast on the ram's horns and you hear that signal, all the people shall shout aloud. The wall of the city will collapse, and they will be able to make a frontal attack.'"
If you were lazy and skipped the scripture passage, the summary: God said march around the walls, on the seventh day do an extra lap and shout. The walls will fall.
All of those soldiers believed that, on the seventh day, at the cry of their voices the north wall would crumble and the city would be theirs. They had such ridiculously strong faith that a fortified city would turn to dust by this bizarre action. And does Matthew 17:20 come to mind?
If you have the faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
But the Israelites had it easy, right? Most Old Testament people did. They had Mom and Dad telling them stories about the wonders He worked through Moses, and they saw firsthand God chucking rocks from the sky at Amorite kings and Him halting the sun's course in the sky at Gibeon (Joshua 10),...the Israelites of this generation didn't necessarily see Moses part the sea, sure...but they did see Joshua part the Jordan (Joshua 3...can you guess what book I've been reading?).
The Israelites had these whomping miracles, so why can't we? Yeah, I'm sure I'd be pretty confidant in my faith if I was standing with my friends encircling Jericho (or you know, maybe not!), sure that the walls would fall at the sound of my shouts too if I had just witnessed Joshua at the Jordan.
The Israelites looked into their past and saw their "Promiser." They could see Him at work. And I think we might be able to as well.
Because haven't we all had miracles? Ours may not have been on such a big scale, not large enough to warrant lines in the greatest book ever written (let alone sold), but aren't we all able to look to our past to see a present God, so clearly guiding us? So obviously there in our past? Aren't they our own precious miracles? Our Holy is so involved in our lives that He's present not just in our wars, in our battles, but the skirmishes we are so wrapped up in between our head and our heart. How many of THOSE miracles went unrecorded in the Book of Books?
And perhaps that's why He offers us trials, so that we can practice our faith, whatever that is, so that we can practice our hope and our love, not so that He sees it, not because He wants us to prove it, but to restore our confidence in ourselves that what we are doing is Right and it is Good. And that, in the end, all He desires is our happiness?
Why are we fighting battles that have already been won? How loudly are you shouting at your own wall? How many times have you attempted to scale it? To dig tunnels under it?
Let us be still. Let us stop proving ourselves. Let us let God act.