I recently went through an extremely difficult, painful time. In its midst, I didn’t feel the presence of God. I’d cry out in prayer, “God, where are you? Can’t you see? Help me!” I knew in my head that God was there, but I didn’t feel it and my heart struggled mightily. I kept returning to prayer, though, choosing to believe God was with me in ways I didn’t understand, and choosing to trust God’s working within me even when I knew nothing about it.
C. S. Lewis wrote that sometimes when we are in the depths we are like drowning people. The lifeguard is right there, but we don’t relax into the help we seek. We continue flailing, panicking, and jeopardizing our rescue. Yet, like the lifeguard, God faithfully stays by our side until we’re able to accept the help and guidance abundantly offered. For me, eventually the feeling of God’s presence returned. Now, looking back, I see that God was indeed sustaining me all along, through other people and in many subtle but powerful ways.
This is common for us humans. Like the crowds in Jesus’ day, we doubt, question, and demand answers. We want undeniable signs. We want “proof”, and we want it on our terms. We want God to act the way we want and on our timetable. Otherwise, we refuse to believe.
Perhaps one challenge of this Easter season is to let go of those doubts and demands. Can I simply believe that God loves me down to my core, without requiring that I “earn” it or prove myself worthy? Do I truly know (and act as if I know) that when I am nailed to the cross, I am nailed there with the One who can shoulder abandonment, betrayal, lashings, and despair? Do I know that my very blood flows with God’s blood, which was poured out in love? Can I surrender my spirit to God? And can I genuinely trust that when I enter the tomb I won’t stay there, that God will find a way forward for me and ultimately bring resurrection? It’s so easy to say the words and believe intellectually. I am ever learning to crack open my frightened, vulnerable heart to believe and to let God love me.
The amazing reality is that no matter how long it takes for me to do this, God continues to work in me, sustain and guide me, and heal me. God will never let me go. As Jesus says: “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.” Can you join me this season in trusting more thoroughly in that love and faithfulness?
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.