HOW MANY TIMES have you been burned by someone you cared about?
How many times have you been let down, felt forgotten, betrayed or disappointed by others?
Maybe you first came in contact with these feelings early on as a school mate and friend broke a promise, but it has only grown as siblings, parents, spouses and children continue to fall short time and time again.
But the greatest stroke that broke your ability to trust is when you saw your own hands, thoughts and choices break the trust of others.
Life has a way of making one skeptical and pessimistic of the promises we have been given.
Experience has taught us valuable lessons about the reliability of manmade oaths, pledges and vows.
Over and over we have discovered firsthand why artificial is a synonym for “manmade.”
Sadly, these scars we have received on our heart, if left undealt with, petrify and dampen our spirit as we relate to one another and even in how we cling to God and his promises.
We have been hurt before so we are reluctant to let others close to us so we remain isolated.
We have been forgotten and betrayed in the past, so we struggle with placing our trust in someone other than ourselves.
Not to mention the world screams in our ears, “Trust no one but yourself” and we turn inward, questioning all the promises we have heard.
In God’s word we hear, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 ESV) and we begin to wonder.
We are told of God’s pledge from Isaiah 40:31 “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” and we doubt.
We close our eyes and are reminded of Jesus’ words, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31 ESV) and you wonder if he’s talking to you.
We constantly find ourselves in the words of the father whose son was possessed, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Just like that distraught father, we need Jesus ever before us, reminding us that he is not manmade or artificial and neither is his power or promise.
His promises to you are as real and permanent as the blood he shed for your sins.
He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), the one who overcame this world (John 16:33), that the eyes of our hardened heart may be opened to see the hope and richness of his unfailing love toward us (Ephesians 1:18).
Yes in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33).Friends will hurt us, family will betray us and we will see ourselves fall short time and again, yet that demonstrates our need for Christ it does not shape him.
He is unfailing (Joshua 1:5), eternal (Psalms 136), and faithful to you (1 Corinthians 10:13).
In this world where trust is a rare commodity because honesty seems a thing talked about and never practiced, we need our Lord who comes to us through his word (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and as we gather in his name (Matt 18:20).
Trusting is difficult; especially when we have been burned in the past.
But let me leave you with this thought: This month as you see so many people dressing up for Halloween, remember what you are to wear into the world, Christ and the kindness, compassion and humility that flows from him (Galatians 3:27, Colossians 3:12).
Show the world the one who is trustworthy and undeterred by the brokenness of this life.
Teach of him. Point to him.
Tell the ones who have hurt you why your hope is not lost, and lead them to follow their risen savior who still is seeking them out (Luke 19:10).
Oh, and as you reflect on the promises you have broken, hold tight to this promise, “He forgives you your sin and remembers it no more!” (Hebrews 8:12) and go to the ones you have hurt seeking forgiveness and reconcile with them (2 Corinthians 5:17-20) by the power of the one who gives us the strength not to trust in ourselves but in the one who raises the dead (Philippians 1:9).
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Patrick Lovejoy is minister of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or [email protected]