In this case, we slowly develop other loves, other interests, and other directions without formally quitting the relationship.
Until there is no relationship left.
The damage to our trust is self-inflicted by a series of small, daily choices to not cherish, build up, or protect our trust in God, our spouse, our church, etc.
We let go of the anchor and drift away with the tide flowing away from the shore until we are far out to sea.
Or trust can be shattered and overthrown by trauma (or group of traumas).
This is where our life is shattered and our normal is now gone, perhaps forever.
We are left reeling and gasping for air.
There are no explanations, and nothing makes sense.
The pain is so intense we ask, “Why?!” and “How could…?!”
Strong emotions buffet us–anger, protest, blaming, depression, despair.
In the “cluster of griefs” scenario, we did not see it coming.
There was no indicator light, no early warning.
We were moving along in stability, in security, in predictability.
Our deepest assumptions about life, our formulas for good living, were operating nicely.
We were comfortable and settled.
Caught Off Guard
Then it’s all overthrown.
We find ourselves living our worst nightmare and there is no end in sight.
The pain is unrelieved, and is far bigger than we are, swallowing us alive.
Others, finding our plight so disturbing they can’t handle it, distance themselves.
Still others spout off bromides, empty cliches, and pious platitudes–subtly asserting that, if we had only taken their advice, we could never have found ourselves in the situation or could quickly escape it.
It adds insult to injury.
We end up terribly alone, with unanswerable questions, questioning our long-held beliefs and harboring serious doubts about God’s justness, goodness, and compassion.
The Job Scenario
This is the scenario Job faced.
Losing all his wealth to plunderers and natural disasters, and losing all his children in one fell swoop, evoked worship.
Losing his health and enduring months of unrelieved physical suffering, evoked outward silence and inward seething.
Having his friends blame him for his suffering produced a round of furious arguments with them.
They all shared a reward-punishment view of God–good people are blessed and bad people are afflicted.
Job had taken his religious system as far as it could go–and had done everything right to position himself on favorable terms with God.
Then his life was shattered inexplicably and without warning.
His friends, voicing the viewpoint he himself believed, came to the wrong conclusion: all suffering is the sufferers’ fault.
It infuriated Job.
He knew he hadn’t done what they accused him of doing, and his conscience was clear.
False, Premature Conclusions
So God must have changed the rules and moved the goalposts.
Upon reflection, were there not many wicked people living in affluence, security and peace?
Why would God do good and show kindness to sinners?
And were there not many righteous people enduring suffering, hardship, and sorrow?
Why would God so deeply afflict the most loyal, highly performing people on His own team?
Interestingly, it turns out that it wasn’t the infinite Person of God that had failed, but a simplistic and one-dimensional view of Him that needed to be outgrown and discarded.
As the later part of the book makes clear, God has many reasons for doing what He does–perhaps we can understand 3 or 4 of them, and perhaps a lot of what happens to us isn’t about us at all.
Perhaps God wants to take us deeper with Himself than we’ve ever gone before, and our facile, juvenile views of God are standing in His way.
Damaged To Be Better Built
So God is introduced as the ultimate Teacher.
And Job finally gets the mano-a-mano encounter with God he had been demanding–and gets far more than he bargained for in the exchange.
God first demotes Job’s ego–reminding him in a series of questions that Job is tiny, severely limited in perspective, and minuscule in his capabilities.
God then shows Job how much he doesn’t know, causing Job to withdraw his harsh accusations against God and ask to be taught by God instead.
He is satisfied with seeing God face-to-face at a level his nice little system couldn’t do.
In other words, there is an intriguing possibility that God makes us worse in order to make us far better in the end.
We go from a child-like initial faith to a childish magical faith to an adult, tested, reality-based faith of beholding a surpassing majesty and unfathomable mystery, which leaves us in a state of astounded worship.
Faith Triumphant in the End
What God is trying to damage and destroy is false trust.
What God is trying to purge out are the other, hidden idols mixed up with and mistaken for Him.
He uses extreme means to bring us out of a magic that leaves us in control, so we can be brought into an awed trust that rests in God’s unfathomably good control in ways we had no previous eyes to see.
The cluster of traumas that so deeply damage our comfortable faith expose the deficiencies of our faith, our shoddy, underlying view of God’s goodness and how we relate to Him.
They force to the surface our unspoken deals, our hidden bargains, our comfortable self-centered assumptions where we work a religious system to get what we want out of God and stay on His good side.
We discover in the end, if we hang onto God despite seasons of shattering, that we are not in the hands of an aloof, heavenly torturer stabbing us for no reason.
Instead, we are under the care of a heart surgeon who plunges the knife deeply to correct hidden heart defects and trust disorders that would kill us if left untreated.
A surgeon who died on the Cross for us, who suffered unimaginably for us through no fault of His own, who knows far better than we do about unrelieved, senseless suffering, and of what deepest trust when all Hell breaks loose really is.
And, most importantly, a trust that took Him all the way through to the resurrection and glory on the other side of Hell.
There is a solution!