Learning to Trust
By Jennifer Slattery –
Must we always dredge through the depths before reaching the summit? Think back over your faith walk. When have you felt closest to God? When have you been most assured of His power? When traipsing along a sun-lit journey or plummeting into His strong hands?
I believe faith comes not from an abundance of blessings, but instead, from deep needs met by Provider God. Although I often wish I could skirt through life with impenetrable faith, surrounded by all I need and desire, it is through times of trial and times of want that I have learned most to lean on God. Sadly, it is often through times of difficulty that my lack of faith is most clearly revealed. But perhaps what surprises me most is the frequency with which I jump back on the fear bandwagon. Somehow when a new trial hits, amnesia sweeps my brain, and all those times God showed up in the past vanish from my thoughts. As if somehow this new event or tragedy overshadows the promises of God or somehow changes His divine, unchanging nature.
Had I been among the miraculously delivered Israelites wandering through the desert of sin in Exodus 16, I fear I would have been the first to complain. I wonder what it must have felt like, waking up each morning, not knowing where you would go, how long you would travel, or where you would lay your head each night.
I imagine the most difficult day of all came when God asked them to leave the oasis of Elim, with its stately palms and twelve springs. What fear must have gripped their hearts as they knelt in the shade of a tree to fill their water vases, staring across the sun-baked earth before them, the elusive Promised Land beyond their view? As a mother, I wonder how it felt to gather up your children as they played among the lush vegetation, dipping their toes in the water, wondering where the next spring might lie.
It was at that moment, venturing out from the oasis and entering into the Wilderness of Sin, that God tested their faith. And for a while, they passed…until their feet grew heavy and the sun blazed high with still no provisions in sight. As they continued forward, dust clinging to their tunics, their children lagging beside them, nibbling fears took hold. How would they eat when not even the smallest rodent scurried before them? And where could they possibly find water when the earth below them cracked from lack of moisture?
With every step, the oasis with its cool water and lush trees grew smaller and smaller behind them. With each step their hearts cried out for mercy while their eyes searched the barren landscape for signs of aid.
Then, just when their fear reached panic level, God intervened, not by leading them to another lush oasis, but instead, by raining provisions down from heaven. Each day the Israelites were told to gather only what they needed. Each day, God asked them to let go of their safety net, to trust fully in Him. And each day, a few fearful Israelites hoarded more than necessary, only to find it full of maggots the next morning. With each fermented mound, God showed them again and again that He alone would meet their needs.
What about us? Are we frantically weaving safety nets in case God doesn’t pull through? Will it take a desert wasteland for us to learn to trust God to be who He says He is and to do what He says He will do?