Joni Eareckson Tada (1949- ) was injured in a diving accident in 1967, and has been a quadriplegic ever since. She has survived stage 3 breast cancer and a malignant tumor. Now at age 70 she lives with unrelenting, severe pain from arthritis. She has had many reasons to doubt the wisdom and goodness of God, but she learned an important lesson about trust from some horses.
By Joni Eareckson, in A Step Further, 1978, pp.86-88.
When someone set fire to my father’s barn, our first thought was for the safety of the horses. Since fire can cause an otherwise calm horse to go wild with fear, we covered their eyes with blankets before leading them past the roaring flames and out to safety. Such an ordeal must be an unsettling thing for a horse. With so much noise and commotion surrounding him and the strange smell of smoke clogging his nostrils, one would imagine that then, of all times, a horse would desire the full use of his senses. But here these humans were covering his eyes with a blanket that ordinarily went on his back and asking him to follow them when he could not even see. To the horse, in the words of C. S. Lewis, “the whole proceeding would seem, if it were a theologian, to cast grave doubts on the ‘goodness’ of man.”
Fortunately our horses weren’t theologians, they were horses. In that confusing moment, when they could neither see nor understand, they trusted us to care for them as we had always done. There was no rebelling and no challenging of our wisdom or authority; and as a result we were able to save their lives.
How unlike these simple animals we are! They put tremendous confidence in their masters, mere human beings; yet, the great God who has chosen to save and redeem us at such a precious price, does not have our trust. Through the prophet Isaiah (1:2-3) God expresses his dismay at this when He says:
Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its master,
the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”
…The apostle Paul’s confidence during trials was not based on the assumption that he could say, “I know why this is happening to me.” Rather, it rested on the fact that he was able to say, “I know in whom I have believed” (II Timothy 1:12). The God he trusted in was the one who, by His own power, had set the sun, moon, and stars in motion. It was He who, in infinite wisdom, had ladled out the sea, dreamed up space and time, formed the mountains, carved out rivers, scattered rain and hail, and conceived in his mind our very existence. But for Paul, the supreme demonstration of the wonderful nature and character of this great God was when He laid aside His divine splendor, took upon Himself the form of a servant, and died a martyr’s death for us (Romans 8:31-32):
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
If God has done that, surely He has proven his intentions. When He covers our eyes with the blanket of a limited understanding, surely He deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt, to put it mildly.
God is worthy of our trust.
“I am not paralyzed forever– just for this life. I will walk again in heaven. I’m just experiencing a 50-60 year delay.”
HABAKKUK 3:16-18 —
I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently… (and)
(Even) though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Psalm 25:1 — In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.