Turn to faith in times of trouble

It was the beginning of the week following the huge warehouse fire in Parkersburg when I was in the car line at our granddaughter Addison’s school.

The air was damp, dark, and heavy, and it smelled of burned plastic.

Knowing the Wood County schools were closed, I wondered why Marietta schools remained opened when the smell was so acrid; what information suggested this air was safe?

With Addison in the car, I phoned the school principal to ask my question. His line was busy, but I relayed my concerns to the secretary who assured me she would tell him. I asked if the children could at least have indoor recess.

I then looked up Superintendent Will Hampton’s number on my cell, and left a message voicing my concerns. By this time, little Addison was annoyed with me, saying Gram, they won’t close school because the air stinks. What are you doing calling the schools?

I took this moment to explain to her that I was concerned about the air, and that we live in America, where we have freedom to call our leaders to ask questions and talk about things. If we lived in China or Russia, we wouldn’t be allowed to simply pick up the phone and expect to talk with our leaders.

Before I could finish my explanation, it was time for her to go inside. So, with a shrug and a look, she was gone.

The phone calls were not to stir up an argument as such, but rather to get first-person information.

My converstions with the school secretary and later with Mr. Hampton communicated optimism and hope. They took time and listened to me, and then they gave me credible information. I chose to trust their information.

Airing our questions and opinions doesn’t have to mean destruction. Every human relationship faces conflicts of different goals, different values, different ways to do things. And, it is out of life’s difficulties that faith is born.

Henri Nouwen said this is the great conversation in our life: to recognize and believe that the many unexpected events are not just disturbing interruptions of our projects, but the way in which God molds our hearts and prepares us.

In other words, it is in how we react, how we respond to day-to-day life, the predicaments and catastrophes that happen and people suffer, where we rely upon and keep building our faith.

With Mr. Hampton, my relationship began with my phone message, and continued when he returned my call. It closed when I received his information with trust and was , in turn, confident about my own decision on the matter.

Peace about the issue at hand, however, comes from our faith in God, that He is capable of handling the crisis at hand. It’s not up to us to second guess how God handles things, our responsibility is to believe in Him.

I doubt I’m the only one who was afraid of the big fire. I don’t think we ever become so spiritually mature that we do not feel fear. But we can control our thoughts and decisions.

The psalmist wrote: I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears (Ps. 34:4). God calls us to respond to life by believing and trusting Him. It’s a partnership made in heaven.

Bonnie Donnelly is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Marietta. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column. Send submissions to jhoutman@mariettatimes.com