A Sense of Trust Through Our Fears
Even in mid-January we still stand on the threshold of a new year and what it holds is as yet unknown. Of course, we have hopes and expectations for this year: the birth of a child, cure for an illness, new beginnings after completing school at a tertiary institution, a first job, the adventure of travel. However, none of these things are a given.
The reality is that we don’t yet know what joys will give light to our days. What angels will we encounter through unforeseen circumstances? What random meetings will blossom into new friendships. What events will change our lives forever?
The sorrow of death, disappointment, and heartache are still just shadows lurking behind an unknown corner.
In his December 31 homily, our parish priest said that we were stepping into an uncertain future as we headed into 2018. “All we can do,” he said, “is trust. Trust in God through all the situations we’ll encounter this year.”
On a spiritual level, this is how I try to begin my days. One of my favourite prayers is: “I trust your might, your kindness, Mother dear. I do believe that you are always near. Whatever happens, Mother mild, I blindly trust in you and in your Child.”
Losing My Mojo
But on a practical level, I struggle a great deal with blind trust.
Those who know me well often tease me and say that I’m a little OCD or a control freak. Although I don’t keep a meticulous diary, I am happiest when my life has a rhythm and an order. I don’t do well with too much craziness.
When things happen that upset my “mojo”, I rapidly lose my calm demeanour and tend to become a little frazzled. I’ve also been known to react by making mountains out of molehills, only to have everything sort itself out, as things often do.
Looking back over the last year, I recognise that the reason I unravel is that, in the moment, I forget to trust.
The New Year’s Eve homily made me think about how I can bring my prayer of trust in sync with my lived experience.
I’m going to start by trying to adopt an attitude of trust. I know, as South Africans our default is not to trust anyone — and sometimes we might extend that distrust to God as well. Perhaps I am being called to practise this attitude of blindly trusting in God’s plan for me this year.
The Holy Family – They Trusted
The best model for this attitude of trust is the Holy Family. When they set out for Bethlehem, they knew only one thing: the child would be born before they would return home.
They trusted that they would be able to find a place to give birth to their child. No one had room for them, but God placed a compassionate person in their path who was at least able to provide them with a dry and warm place where Mary could bring her son into the world.
When they left for Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph no doubt expected that as soon as the census had been completed and the new mother and child were able to travel, they would return home, and the new family would find its rhythm and patterns.
They could not possibly have imagined that a political leader would feel threatened by the newborn child and actively seek to kill him. They could not have imagined that they would find themselves fleeing in the middle of the night for Egypt, and not knowing how long they would live in exile.
Despite this they trusted. Joseph trusted that it was God speaking to him in his dream. Joseph trusted that God had a special care for the destiny of his family, giving him the confidence and courage to leave Bethlehem under the cover of night. The Holy Family trusted that one day they would make their way home.
Trust the God Through Your Faith
We are called to adopt that same attitude of trust as we head into an uncertain year. Trust even if your company is downsizing and you face the possibility of retrenchment. Trust while you hear the less than hopeful diagnosis to medical tests. Trust as you navigate the murky waters of personal relationships. Trust even that those in power will make good decisions.
Yes, even if my faith is only the size of a mustard seed, I will try to be like Joseph, listening for God’s quiet voice in my dreams, deep down in my soul. I will try to be like Mary, trusting and believing that God will provide in all circumstances and refuse to give way to my fears.
I invite you to join me in making Isaiah’s proclamation of faith your own: “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defence; he has become my salvation.” – Isaiah 12:2