God loves us, wants us to be with him

One of the effects of the Minot flood three years ago was that it forced people to clean out their basements and closets stuff that had been stored two years or 25 years or 45 years. Two things might have happened when you were putting your lives back together again. Maybe you’re still missing some special belonging that you know was down there, but haven’t seen since. Or, perhaps you re-discovered something you had completely forgotten about because it had been packed away for so many years.

One thing that turned up for me in the whole process of sorting and deciding what to keep and what to throw out was my Confirmation Faith Statement, handwritten on notebook paper back in 1976. I didn’t remember that I had written one giant question mark at the top of the page. Maybe I was just trying to cheat maybe since we didn’t have computers and couldn’t use a really large font, maybe it was my way of filling up the page faster.

But at any rate, my faith statement seemed to be one big question more of an expression of doubt and worrying, than it was of firm conviction. Our Scripture reading this weekend is full of the disciples’ doubts and worrying. They are in question mode: “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” “Lord, show us the father, and we will be satisfied.” (John 14:5,8)

Jesus’ assurances to “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me” don’t seem to be working too well. The disciples want more. They want to see. They want proof. In that way, they are not so different from us. I think that question mark lives in my life today just as much as it did back in 1976. We each witness the burdens that we and others carry. The cancer is back. A friend gets let go from their job. A pervasive depression settles in after the flood and all the changes that happened. A marriage ends in divorce. Parents lose a child.

We might want to say, “Show us that things will get better, and we will be satisfied!” And do you know what? It is OK to throw our questions at God. This conversation with Jesus took place just hours before he was betrayed, handed over and crucified. In spite of his disciples’ lack of faith and trust, Jesus stuck to the plan. He went and died for them and for us. In spite of our own troubled hearts and doubts and questions, Jesus went ahead to show us the father, to show us who God is a God of love and mercy, a God who cares for our sufferings, a God who was willing to suffer torture and die for us, a God who wants us to come to him with our questions and troubles. Even when we question and doubt and wonder, God is about his business preparing a place for us, because he loves us and has chosen us to be with him.

Rev. Janet Hernes Mathistad is pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church, Minot, and Deering Lutheran Church, Deering.