The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Learning to trust again

So many things are swimming around in my head, but everything seems inconclusive. The thoughts start and then go all kinds of different places and there is no conclusion. Why? Because I lost my son.

Yes, you read that right. I lost my son. Max died Dec. 29, 2012, less than a year ago. He was a healthy 17-year-old who was suddenly struck with the flu and a rare infection that took his earthly life. My son loved Jesus and knew deeply Jesus’ love for him. He even loved church. He worked with the children on Sunday mornings and was a leader in the youth group on Wednesday nights. Max cared deeply about others and was a loyal friend. He had a bright future ahead of him. He wanted to study engineering and make a difference in the world. But his life was cut short, and my family and the community remain devastated.

Since then I feel like I’m living a life of unknowns. There is just no certainty is there? Isn’t that life? Isn’t that the way this goes? We never know what will come tomorrow or even in the next minutes and hours. We think we do, but we really don’t. Life is full of surprises, twists, turns and tragedy. How do we trust in the midst of this?

Trust is central to our relationship with God. Yet it’s probably our most primal fear, to trust the other. Why? Because we are afraid of the unknown. We’re also afraid to open ourselves up, to be vulnerable, to let our scars be seen because we are afraid of getting hurt again. We are afraid of being weak. We are afraid of being real. And we want to control things ourselves. When the unthinkable happens we question all that we know about our faith and our trust in the one who gives us life.

I’m learning to trust again. I’m learning about the depth of how God brings life out of death. I’m learning that trust is not something I can just muster up on my own. I need to place all my doubts and fears daily into Jesus’ hands. I need to be real with him. The words of Max’s confirmation verse remind me each day of God’s promise: “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore” (Psalm 121:8).


Robert Barndt

Robert Barndt

Posted at 12:04 pm (U.S. Eastern) 9/17/2013

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