Testing Grows faith—Don’t Opt Out

I watch closely the tender growing things in our backyard garden, begun from seeds our grandbeans helped plant. But even more closely, I’m observing the spiritual formation of the Beans themselves.

“Nana,” said one, during a recent–and thankfully, now over–health crisis. “How many people are praying for me?” From his days of infancy he has listened to adults pray. He’s also watched God answer—sometimes “Yes,” sometimes, “Wait,” and sometimes, “No.” His prayer row is beginning to take root.

“Nana,” says another, “do you know God has a pwan for my wife?” She sings it, sways it, belts it out, that feisty, scrappy Bean with the truffle-soft heart. Tender roots these: God has a plan, and it’s going to be good. I can’t wait to see…

The other night, a sleeping-over Bean settled in for the first round of tuck-ins:  pleas for water, shadow puppets and my (albeit idle) threats to close the door. “Did you talk to God tonight?” I asked.

“No. I want to hear God talking to me!”

“He talks to us all the time, honey. In the Bible, in nature, in our hearts…”

She interrupted, voice fierce. “No, Nana. I want to hear him IN MY EARS.” Her eyes glazed with tears.

This growing, this reaching for God—it hurts sometimes. I’d take that away if I could; allow mature faith without pain. But it cannot be. Faith roots, like plant roots, gain strength through struggle. Some grow fast, others slow, but a stalwart faith is always a tested faith—at any age.

Here’s the good news: no matter the test, the answer stays the same—God is faithful.