November 27, 2012

Faith and Trust

A few weeks ago, I sat on the floor of my living room struggling through the lectionary text for Sunday morning.  It was Saturday night, and Sunday was fast approaching.  I was in charge of the service for the next day - not only the sermon, but the welcome and announcements, communion, and benediction.  But the text for the week was frustrating - the Little Apocalypse text from Mark 13:1-8.  The text is Jesus prophesying the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and contains the famous quote of "nations rising against nations" and a reference to the beginning of the "birthpangs."

With most texts, I am able to find a starting point - this tidbit in the commentaries is interesting, or that line of text irks me.  But this entire text bothered me.  The commentaries seemed to believe that it wasn't likely Jesus had ever really said these words, and that Mark was writing with the foreknowledge that the temple would be destroyed.  As I read the commentaries and tried to find my tidbit to sermonize on, I found myself stuck in the midst of a faith crisis.  

Being in seminary, I've become accustomed to these moments.  I know that about once a month or more, I will come across something in my reading that makes me stop and wonder why I believe what I believe.  And I know that I will struggle through that thought and struggle past the problem, and eventually come to the other side.  It may take time - there have been times when I have simply pushed the crisis out of my mind so I could deal with it later - it make only take an hour.  But I have gotten used to these struggles, these crises.

I put aside that particular crisis to deal with the sermon at hand, and by the time I finished writing, I couldn't remember what my crisis had been about in the first place.  Somewhere along the way, the issue had resolved itself.  Somewhere along the way, it had become less important.  

I realized last night something interesting.  I believe that we all have faith within us - just the right amount.  I say just the right amount because there are times when we will struggle in our faith and it will feel as though we don't have enough of it.  There will be times when we have more than enough faith and we can feel good in the fact that we trust God.  In those times when we struggle, though, when it feels like we don't have enough faith...that is when we need to use our faith to trust God.  In the middle of sermonizing, in the middle of Bible study, in the middle of discussions or debates, when we come to that moment when our brains hurt so much that we cannot imagine thinking through the problem another time - that is when we need to use our little bit of faith to trust in God.  

It isn't that we should use our faith so we don't have to think through things.  We cannot have blind faith in God.  But in those moments when it is difficult, when we are struggling, when we cannot move forward for our frustration...those are the moments when we can use our faith in God and trust.  We can trust that God will explain, that in time we will understand.  We can trust that God will quiet our troubled minds and give us peace.  We can trust that God will help us to understand.  

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