I’ve heard it’s easy to trust God when things are going great. When things are looking up, we look up. However, when crises arise we focus on what we can do instead of asking for help.
That makes sense, I thought when I first heard this idea.
I’ve also heard, though, that when we have plenty, we forget about God and perhaps tend to believe it’s all from our own making. Then, when we hit rock bottom, we kneel and ask God to take hold of us because we just can’t go on.
Of course that’s how it works. (See, hindsight bias applies for erroneous conclusions, too.)
So, which one is it? Which one is the universal principle we should apply? I don’t know I care which ‘axiom,’ if any, better describes reality in this context. What I can tell you is I’ve struggled to be close to God in both situations.
When things were okay, I prayed for meals and before going to bed—morning prayer has always eluded me. Once the day looked ominous, I prayed for meals and before going to bed. Treading rough emotional patches, I prayed for meals and before going to bed.
Although I’m not sure I’ve prayed every night in the last two weeks, my relationship with God hasn’t improved nor deteriorated. But perhaps, things have changed slightly.
Scattered throughout the year, from January and through the summer, I’ve dropped to the floor and pleaded with God for guidance, for the certainty I once had. In the last few weeks, those prayers come with tears.
I’ve shed copious tears (in that regard, I live an opulent life), but I maintain abundant reserves.
I just don’t have time or space to cry, even if I need it. Do I have time for a chapter of two of First Peter when I need to soon decide whether I stay or go home to Mexico?
How do I take time to read the Gospels when I’m trying to find some solid ground—ironic, I know—or at least prepare a speech to recite when I’m asked what I’m doing, why I’m still around?
Petty social stuff, right? I’m guilty!
But how can I read little, cutesy devotionals when on top of the existential crises I need to figure out where from I’ll get enough for food?
How do I take time for God when time is what I don’t have? Think about your life in heaven, I can hear you say. I get it, there’s a life after this one, but this one is pretty fucking real.
How do I take time for morning prayer when I have no idea where I’m sleeping that night?
Yet, God has provided in abundance. Not the way I expected, not in all matters, but in what I needed most then.
I don’t care about those universal principles we come up with for the next pop religion book or viral sermon. Don’t give me the prosperity gospel or the newest Joel Osteen grin.
When things are not looking up, I’ll look up. I’ll try that. It’s all I can do.