A new little book arrived for me in the post today. It’s a devotional called Trust: a godly woman’s adornment by Lydia Brownback (who blogs here.) If you’ve read my stuff on femininity, you’ll understand why the title grabbed my attention.
In the introduction, Brownback links trust to fear. She argues that anxiety or fear has spiritual roots, that they come because we do not trust that God is good and has a good plan for us. Because we do not know God, we do not trust him. Yet, she says, in difficult times, even when God seems far away, God is calling us to deeper faith and deeper trust of him. She cites Isaiah, Moses and Mary as biblical examples of people who reacted with fear when God drew near to them.
There are two reactions we can have to this fear, the ‘divine intrusion’ as she calls it:
When God comes near to us – and in our case, the method he uses is more likely to be a crisis, a loss or an unmet need rather than a vision, an angel or a burning bush – … either we will cling to God in the midst of our fear, discovering in the process all that Jesus is for us, or we will run away from our only source of help. (p.17)
I want to think more about the idea that a crisis is God drawing near. I’m not sure that a death in the family is the same as the experiences of Isaiah, Moses or Mary, unwanted and terrifying though they may have been. And I’m suspicious that this thinking can culminate in an ‘ends justifies the means’ approach to suffering.
But I was struck by the two approaches that she highlights. As I reflect on this year I am challenged to see its difficulties as God drawing me closer to him and wonder, how did I respond – running to him or away from him? Do I believe that in these things too, he loves me? And I’m comforted that he has graciously drawn me closer to him, and challenged to think of how much more work I have to do in trusting him.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.