Editor’s Note: This is another excerpt from Father John Bartunek’s new book “Seeking First the Kingdom” filled with “practical examples and down-to-earth wisdom which will show you how to bring Christ into each facet of your life”.
My kids have had so many problems in their adult lives that I’m not sure God is watching over them and helping them. I’m not so sure I trust God anymore. Can you help?
God’s grace, his action, his part, is never lacking. It reaches out to us and surrounds us and sustains us at every time and in every place, like the very atmosphere we breathe. This is the bottom line in our friendship with Christ. This is the starting line and the finishing line. Jesus, his trustworthiness, his faithfulness, his absolute dependability and unlimited loyalty–this is the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13, RSV).
A Message from the Cross
This was one of the reasons that God chose to save us through the betrayal, humiliation, torture, crucifixion, and death of his only-begotten Son. Saving us that way shows, once and for all, that nothing we do can cause God to give up on us. He stayed faithful to us, loving and forgiving us, throughout the horrible injustices and crimes that we committed against him during Christ’s passion and death. And after all that, he still loves us and reaches out to us and offers us his grace. Because of that, we have absolute assurance of his undying faithfulness.
St. Paul understood this as well as anyone, and better than most. He put it like this in his letter to the Christians in Rome:
What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? (Romans 8:31—32)
In his encyclical letter Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis gave this fundamental truth [in this] brilliant expression. He wrote (emphasis added):
The history of Jesus is the complete manifestation of God’s reliability…. The clearest proof of the reliability of Christ’s love is to be found in his dying for our sake. If laying down one’s life for one’s friends is the greatest proof of love (cf. John 15:13), Jesus offered his own life for all, even for his enemies, to transform their hearts. This explains why the evangelists could see the hour of Christ’s crucifixion as the culmination of the gaze of faith; in that hour the depth and breadth of God’s love shone forth.1
Learning to Trust
It’s easy to say but hard to live; it’s hard to trust that God will always be doing his part, the 99 percent, even when we waver or get sloppy in doing our 1 percent.
Our modern, post-Christian culture steadily feeds us the lie that if we just work a little bit harder, or a little bit smarter, we can create heaven on earth; we can perfect ourselves. We tend to believe the lie, because even in the safest of harbors, in the bosom of our family when we’re growing up, we discover that human approval and affection can (and sometimes even must) be earned. And so this lie seeps into our relationship with God. We feel as if we need to make ourselves worthy of God’s grace; he will only do his part, we mistakenly tell ourselves, if we do our part really, really well.
God knows how hard it is for us to trust him, and he is always looking for ways to help us out. As a result, the story of salvation that unfolds in the pages of the Bible comes back to the truth of God’s utter reliability over and over again, like a refrain. God manifests his faithfulness to his people all the way from the very beginning, through the experiences of Abraham, Moses, all the kings and prophets of the Old Testament, and all the apostles and saints of the New Testament. Maybe the Blessed Virgin Mary expressed it best when she simply proclaimed: “His mercy is from age to age” (Luke 1:50, RSV).
Images that Inspire Confidence
The prayer book of the Old Testament (and of the Church), the Psalms, draws on images from the natural world to dispel the hesitancy of our fallen nature and emblazon confidence in God on our hearts. Read Psalm 36:5—6, for example:
LORD, your mercy reaches to heaven; your fidelity, to the clouds.€¨Your justice is like the highest mountains; your judgments, like the mighty deep.
The psalmist compares the immeasurable qualities of God to some of the most evocative scenes of the created world. The vast expanse of the sky, the atmosphere that surrounds and upholds us every moment, whether or not we are aware of it, is a pale reflection of the Lord’s “mercy and faithfulness.”
Is there a limit to the sky, to the heavens? Not one that we can see or experience. Just so, God’s forgiveness, goodness, and love have no limits.
The solidity, the firmness, the unflagging and monumentally dependable presence of the mountains show forth to the inspired psalmist the absolute firmness of God’s justice–a Hebrew word connoting truth and faithfulness, utter reliability.
The vast and mysterious power and motion of the sea, so mesmerizing, inviting, and awe-inspiring, are for the psalmist a glimpse of the untiring wisdom of God–his judgments, his will, his attentive and intimate governance of all things.
This is our God. This is the Lord who is always doing his part. This is the bedrock of our faith and the steady assurance that allows us to stumble along joyfully at his side as we make a decent effort to do our part. It starts with him. It always starts with him.
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1 Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei, 15—16.
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Editor’s Note: This is another excerpt from Father John Bartunek’s new book “Seeking First the Kingdom” filled with “practical examples and down-to-earth wisdom which will show you how to bring Christ into each facet of your life”. Click here to learn more about the book…or if you wish to get it for a friend or relative who doesn’t read on line.
Art: The Crucified Christ, Peter Paul Rubens, between 1610 and 1611, PD-US, Wikimedia Commons.