by: Tiffany Graham
Two years ago I came across a single car accident. The driver was still inside and the engine had caught fire. Several of us tried to help him, but the doors were locked. By the time we got a window open, the flames were so high that we couldn’t get the driver out. Emergency vehicles arrived shortly after, but it was too late.
I learned later that the driver, a high school student in my community, was visiting his grandmother in a nearby town. He wasn’t speeding. He wasn’t drinking. He should have lived. It didn’t make sense to me. I fought for that person’s life. I had faith that God would be with me even in the midst of chaos. But everything turned out wrong.
It reminded me of Abraham, who had faith that God would give him a son, then is asked to sacrifice that son. I know it’s a story of faith. But it made me wonder… What kind of faith?
You see, I was struggling with feelings of doubt, with guilt, anger, resentment, and confusion. A lot of it was aimed at God. A God I couldn’t understand. It made me question what kind of faith God wants from me.
I kept going to church. I heard a lot of sermons preached on God’s providence. The pastors provided stories of miracles and of money coming in at the last minute, saving people who were faithful to God. They shared testimonies of missionaries who were protected by God in dangerous places. They talked about prayers answered and hope restored.
I wanted to be comforted by these stories. But I kept thinking of my community, overwhelmed by the senseless death of this boy. I thought of girls I knew who had been raped. I helped friends suffering through debilitating mental illness. I watched faithful, loving parents carrying the grief of a miscarriage. I saw those I had poured prayer into for years show no sign that God was at work in their lives.
God’s providence? It sounded more like a joke than a leap of faith when someone could claim God provided the money they needed to go to summer camp while I knew another friend had just lost her father. I was frightened for my loved ones, and prayer couldn’t soothe my worries any longer. It seemed to me that God doesn’t always provide.
So what does God want from us? To have faith? To trust… what? Abraham had faith that God would keep his promise and give him a son. That kind of faith I can understand. What I couldn’t understand was the kind of faith that allowed him to trust God, who had first given him Isaac and now wanted to take him back. The kind of faith that can’t be shaken by tragedy.
It occurred to me that maybe I had been trained to look at faith in the wrong way. God may have provided for Abraham at the last second, but Abraham didn’t know that would happen. Abraham didn’t have faith that God would make everything OK, or that God would save his son. Abraham fully believed that his son was going to die, and yet Abraham trusted God. Not an outcome. In the face of losing EVERYTHING, Abraham still trusted God and had a simple, desperate faith that no matter what happens, God is good.
I realized I don’t want to hold onto a faith that wavers with the pain of this world or the ways I see God providing for me, because sometimes, everything isn’t going to be OK. I want the faith of Abraham, walking up that mountain with his son, a faith rooted directly in the very identity of God. I’m not sure how to get there yet. I’m not ready to let God hold everything in my life. It’s going to be a journey. But I think, maybe, that’s the kind of faith that God wants from us. To trust, simply, that He is good.