On a day in late June, before sunrise, I was in the rocking chair passed down to me from my grandfather, having read the morning lessons and a poem or two. I was troubled, for good reasons: the rising death-toll from COVID-19; the murder of George Floyd, and the damage of economic freefall.
I’d also learned that I couldn’t keep pretending I didn’t need heart surgery, and I was having a series of tests to restage Multiple Myeloma, for which I’ve been receiving treatment for most of six years.
I was troubled and tired (still am). I sat in the silence and strained to hear something more than my own breath and to feel something other than my anxiety and weariness.
For a long, long time, my honest confession of faith had been, “I trust; heal my lack of trust” (my slight paraphrase of the words a struggling man once said to Jesus: “I believe, help my unbelief”). Most days, the weight of my confession fell on “Heal my lack of trust.”
It was the best I had. I knew it wasn’t much. I took solace from the fact that Jesus said that faith the size of a mustard seed was enough. I simply acknowledged that Jesus wouldn’t leave me alone and that I didn’t want him, too because I’m more certain of him than I am of myself, by a long shot. Even though it doesn’t make a lick of logical sense, I have loved Jesus and felt his love for me, even when I haven’t been at all sure about God or church or eternal life or much of anything else that makes almost any list of Very Important Beliefs.
I sat sighing in the silence and punctuated it with the Kyrie: “Lord Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Tears pooled in my eyes before I knew I was weeping. Slowly and certainly, I felt a gentle warmth spread from my heart throughout my body. I didn’t yet know the source of the cause of the warmth and the tears.
Eventually, I knew beyond knowing and certainly beyond accounting that my torn trust in God had been healed. My frayed faith had been rewoven. Not all at once and not just on that morning. Years of praying, therapy, study, spiritual direction, suffering, reading, and writing came before that morning, and all of those things continue. Now, though, the weight of my confession of faith is on “I trust,” rather than on “Heal my lack of trust.” Jesus did the healing: praying, therapy, study spiritual direction, suffering, reading, and writing were just my ways of cooperating with him.
I’ve had, and still have, a stuffed filing cabinet of questions and doubts: they haven’t been resolved. They’ve been dissolved.
I can’t fully explain, to my own or anyone else’s satisfaction, how it is true; but somehow, it is: the God made known, real, and present to us in Jesus is Love, trustworthy, tenacious, and tender Love. That Love is just and merciful; it is humble, gentle, peaceful, and relentless. It liberates and restores. That Love is unbeginning, unending, unconditional, and undefeatable.