DayBreaks for 12/12/11 – The Far Side of Despair, Trust #9
From the DayBreaks Archive, dated 11/20/2001:
There is a caution about trust that must be stated in order to be completely fair about the topic. Sometimes, we can confuse trust with presumption. Presumption can corrupt trust and it works this way: we become presumptuous when we assign to God the job of doing for us what we should be doing for ourselves. Brennan Manning gives this illustration of the problem: “One of the wise old birds of the AA fellowship, Father Joe Martin, uses the following illustration: Imagine a man who comes and says… ‘Father Martin, I want to become a great heart surgeon like Dr. Michael DeBakey. I believe that all power in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus. So lay your hands on me and ask Jesus to infuse the knowledge and skill of DeBakey. Then I’ll start my practice.’ Old Joe blinks in disbelief and says, ‘Son, go to medical school, and after you have finished your residency, specialize in coronary surgery. Then apply to a hospital, attach yourself to one of the surgical wizards for several years, and maybe in thirty years you will arrive at the premier level.’
“Similarly, Father Martin says, picture a guy who comes and says, ‘…I am a hopeless alcoholic. I’ve been drinking a quart of vodka, a gallon of Chablis, and a case of beer every day for the last twenty years. I’ve read a lot of the miracle stories in the Bible lately, and I know that Jesus is the master of the impossible. So pray over me and tell Jesus to set me free from bondage.’ Father Martin responds, ‘I’ve got a better idea. Go to Alcoholics Anonymous, attend ninety meetings in ninety days, find yourself a sponsor, diligently work the Twelve Steps under his guidance, and read the Big Book every day. In other words, do the hard work.’”
In short, we expect God to intervene miraculously on our behalf. “The theological arguments that support an interventionary God are many and varied. Frequently people report that they have experienced a physical cure or an inner healing. And yet, as John Shea writes, ‘one brutal historical fact remains – Jesus is mercilessly nailed to the cross and despite the Matthean boast, twelve legions of angels did not save him from that hour. No cop-out redemption theories that say God wanted it that way explain the lonely and unvisited death of God’s Son. This side of the grave Jesus is left totally invalidated by the Lord of heaven and earth. Trust in God does not presume that God will intervene.
“Often trust begins on the far side of despair. When all human resources are exhausted, when the craving for reassurances is stifled, when we forego control, when we cease trying to manipulate God and demystify Mystery, then – at our wits’ end – trust happens within us, and the unwanted cry, ‘Abba, into your hands I commend my spirit,’ surges from the heart.”
Trust truly does often begin on the far side of despair when we have reached the end of ourselves (and then some). Trust doesn’t presume God will intervene (at least not in the ways we may think He should). God has already done the most important intervention on our behalf. Anything else will be anticlimactic. If He’s already done the greatest thing possible for us, why won’t we trust that He’ll take care of the smaller, “easier” things, too?
PRAYER: Help us to truly trust, and not to presume, upon You!!!! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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