Trust amid darkness lets light shine through

Not long ago I was passing a tractor-trailer on the highway. The trucking company’s motto was printed on its side: “Helping the World Keep Promises.”

Nothing devastates hearts more than broken promises.

Nearly every person in the Bible who followed Jesus did so because of a promise.

“Follow me and you will become …”

“Come and you will see.”

“Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

Jesus once promised a good friend whose brother had died, “Anyone who believes in me will live even though he dies.” That’s as comprehensive a promise as you can get! But shortly thereafter, Jesus himself dies a brutal and unjust death through a friend’s betrayal.

Disillusionment is when our belief in this One who promises abundant and eternal life is overturned by life’s cruelties. The trauma of divorce. Voter apathy over candidates who seem to forget them once in office. The sense of betrayal when a trusted mentor crosses the line.

We can feel like John the Baptist who sent messengers from death row to Jesus with a question: “Are you the Messiah we are expecting, or should we look for someone else?”

Like him, wounded believers try to gather up their courage and hope again, as if Christ is a model champion and they are his protégées.

There is another way.

An often-overlooked verse in a letter to some disheartened believers offers a helpful shift in perspective: “We see Jesus … who also said, ‘I will put my trust in Him — I and the children God has given me’” (Hebrews 2:9, 13).

This reveals that when the pain got intense and the way forward seemed impossible, Jesus made the same choice we make.

He places his trust in His Heavenly Father. He prays in the garden to be spared the agony of the cross, and later on the cross as the desolation becomes complete he cries, “Into your hands I commit my spirit!”

When we are tempted by non-stop troubles or broken trusts to think that the promised delivery will never arrive, we can commit anew to God because of what He did once and for all for us in Jesus. “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested” (Hebrews 2:18).

Seventy-six years ago, the British writer C.S. Lewis put these words into the mouth of a devil: “He [God] wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles … Our cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks ‘round upon a universe from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

Russel Jarvis has lived in Hancock County since 1989 and has served as the lead chaplain at Hancock Regional Hospital since August 2003. This weekly column is written by local clergy members. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfield