Trust That God Will Do – What?
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Exodus 17: 8-13
Trust in the Lord. Turn your troubles over to God. God never give us more than we can carry. The Lord never fails us. Let go and let God.
Some Catholics find these and similar sayings powerful comfort in times of trouble. Others, just as Catholic, find the same sayings unreliable, often simply untrue and always incomprehensible. When folks of these two persuasions meet, they typically do their best to avoid discussing God’s providence. When the subject does arise, they engage in a lot of “uh huhing” and “mmming.” It’s the price they find necessary to remain peacefully in the same church. What’s going on? What do we really believe about God’s care for us?
What every follower of Jesus agrees to is that God loves us, does his best for us and promises that we will ultimately be part of what Jesus named the Kingdom of God. That’s the bare bones of divine providence: stark, abstract, matter-of-fact and emotionally very unsatisfying when the roof is falling in. When Catholics begin to speculate and tell stories about how God’s power works in everyday life, things get lots more colorful and, although often inconsistent and unverifiable, much more emotionally compelling.
Many folks are glad to have answers even if they’re not always iron-clad. They find much in life ultimately unexplainable and ask only that their beliefs enable them to live with courage, love and hope. Others prefer to have no answers about how God cares for them than answers that don’t square with their experience. They observe things going unexplainably well in life but also unexplainably poorly. They find no reason to hold God more responsible for one than the other. They’re most likely to find God directly responsible for neither. They live with that – not always comfortably – without doubting that God ultimately assures the fulfillment of our lives.
Whichever approach to divine providence we find most natural for us; there is a further, crucial element in our understanding of it. Faith in God’s care frees us to fearlessly commit ourselves to the world. That kind of commitment is capable of transforming human life. It is the mark of a mature faith to look not for what God will do for us but to seek to discover what God makes us capable of doing for ourselves and others.