Trusting God in uncertain times

  • February 27, 2013

Trusting in God, as Henri Nouwen observed, is not an expression of powerlessness but rather a disposition of humility that is the beginning of spiritual life. A well-grounded Christian, Nouwen said, is deeply in love with Jesus, ready to follow Him wherever they are guided and trusting that with Jesus will come life in abundance.

This trust is fundamental to accepting the beliefs, practices, morality, spirituality and way of life the Church proposes to us. Our faith is built on a relationship of intimacy and ultimacy with Jesus. The Catholic faith teaches that Christians are invited to trust God as a loving and caring Father.

The crisis of faith today is truly a crisis of trust. In turn, this crisis of trust leads to a deeper crisis of hope which limits our capacity to love others and receive love as gift. As then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger once wrote, “to be a Christian is to be one who hopes; it is to situate oneself on the foundation of a sure hope.” However, if one can not trust in the foundation of hope — God — then there is no possibility of anchoring one’s future and fortune on God.

So true is the maxim: One who does not trust God is without hope and one who does not have hope does not have God. The reverse can be equally true: One who has God, and trusts in God, has a foundation of hope.

Further, said Ratzinger: “If the fear that transcends all fears is in the last resort fear of losing love, then the hope which transcends all hopes is the assurance of being showered with the gift of a great love.” That is the very heart of our Catholic faith. We believe we are perfectly loved from all eternity as children of God and that God’s love is the foundation, beginning and ultimate end of our being. As a result, God has a wonderful plan for us and this plan has been revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, in uncertain times, we should not fear the future because God’s perfect love conquers all fears (1 John 4:18).

However, the crisis of trust colours contemporary society in how we perceive reality, know and communicate the truth, relate to each other and define our identity. This crisis ultimately affects how we live our lives.

The disconnection that can arise between ones identity as a child of God and how one lives in the real world is often caused by losing trust in God, a trust that should lead to self-surrender, loyalty and fidelity. The crisis of trust is also affected by a failure in society to cope with the limitations of our institutions and systems, and with the imperfections of individuals and groups. We live in a time when doubt, despair, skepticism, cynicism, fear and uncertainty about our future challenge
our faith and trust in God.

This challenge confronts not only society as a group but also individuals. The capacity to trust is built on foundations of past experiences. So tensions can arise as we see how dreams and aspirations are being realized through the persons, groups and institutions to which we have made a commitment.

How can we trust another man or woman with life and love if the person we have trusted for many years betrays us or leaves us for no just cause? How can we trust a financial advisor if we have been exploited? How can we trust the Church when mistakes and failings of some officials have caused pain and brokenness? How can we trust ourselves to do right when we sometimes fail to meet our own expectations and standards?

So losing faith in God is always a possibility. For that reason, building trust in God and in our institutions demands hard work and unceasing prayers for God’s grace. This is particularly important right now for us as a Church as we pray in thanksgiving for the spiritual leadership of Pope Benedict XVI and entrust into God’s hands our transition to a new papacy.

Trusting in God demands faith in God, especially in uncertain times. And faith means abandoning our self-assurance, ambitions and projects and trusting God to provide that which conforms to His plan and purpose for us.

Lent offers a good time to renew our lives by developing greater trust in divine providence and by entrusting our future as a Church and as Catholics to God in prayer.

(Fr. Stan Chu Ilo’s latest book, Discover Your Divine Investment, is published by Catholic Register Books and is available by calling 416-934-3410 - ext. 401.)


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