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Faith is not, first of all, for overcoming obstacles; it is for experiencing them—all the way through.

Fr. Richard Rohr, Redical Grace: Daily MEditations

I read this today in one of the daily devotional books I read. But I think there is a mistranslated word or better a word that we might need to define. I think it reads better as “An honest trust is not…for overcoming obstacles…” The reason for this is we have heaped an enormous amount of baggage on this word faith, to the point it has lost both its original meaning and its power within the practice of Christian discipleship. While I have a deep respect for Richard Rohr and believe I understand what he is getting at, I think the definition is helpful. 

Going into this Advent season, I think an honest trust in God is in order. Advent is the time for remembering. We remember God looked at our pain and suffering and said, “I am with you.” We remember God saw our need for a better understanding of life and said, “I’ll send one to guide you.” We remember God chose the unremarkable and unlikely as a means of saying, “All lives are of worth, and all are loved.” We remember these things because to forget is to lose our trust in God and place our trust in the wrong place, wrong people. We remember because life will offer obstacles (some true obstacles and some just us whining) and we will have to recognize the need not to avoid them but engage with the experience and walk through. 

Advent can be a season of challenge as well as joy. Many people are facing their first holiday season after losing a spouse or loved one. Many are still struggling with pandemic related health/job/family issues. Many people struggle with seasonal depression and loneliness. There are as many issues and obstacles as there are people to feel them. Part of the call of Advent is to remind ourselves and those around us that we are called to trust in God, in the greater invitation God makes with the sending of the Christ child. He is the healer, and we are called to aid in that healing. Where we might be as Henri Nouwen said, wounded healers, we are still called to be healed and in turn become healers ourselves, seeking to overcome our obstacles as we help others overcome. 

But it all comes back to an honest trust. What do you put your trust in? Is it trust enough to face the hard things of life, of the season?