“Cindy, you’ve just got to trust God to take care of your problem. He’ll do it.”
“You’re right,” Cindy replied, as she turned to walk away. And she believed what she said. But anxiety still haunted her the next day – which added guilt to her worry. What kind of Christian was she if she didn’t trust God?
One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 3;5,6, which says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will keep your path straight.” Sounds relaxing, doesn’t it? “Let go and let God.” It’s also a lot harder than it sounds. I should know. I’ve tried for years to trust God completely and still struggle in certain areas. I wish there was a “trust’ button I could just push. Do you ever find trust in God hard to hang onto?
What does it mean to trust God? Merriam-Webster defines trust as: “1021: firm belief in the character, strength, or truth of someone or something.” In other words, we believe that God is wise and good, strong and capable, honest and straightforward. The implications are that if these aspects are true, and we are His, that He will take good care of us.
Why is it important that we trust God?
1. It’s important to trust God because He asks us to
I already quoted Proverbs 3:5,6 and could quote many other similar verses. God wants us to trust Him; to rest in Him. It’s crucial enough that God makes a big deal about it.
2. It’s important to trust God because it strengthens us to face life
As a I write this, a horrific hurricane is beginning to hit Florida. Although this is an extreme example, life is full of hurricanes – challenges, problems, wounds, and uncertainties. Trusting God allows us to find some peace and hope even in severe trials.
3. It’s important to trust God because trust allows us to grow close to Him
If we don’t trust God, we’ll probably abandon Him, or, at the very least, keep Him in the background. Life is tough and often hard to understand. We can’t see God or hear Him and sometimes it feels as though He doesn’t care or at least doesn’t know what He’s doing. Why did he allow our child to die? Why did we lose our job? Why do we struggle emotionally? Trust allows us to hang on to God despite these real questions.
4. It’s important to trust God because it’s a way of honoring Him
Either God is faithful to His promises, and up to the task, or He isn’t. When we trust God we show that we believe Him. When our lives betray a lack of trust, it shows that, whatever we may outwardly say, we’re still not convinced of God’s sufficiency.
Having said all this, it’s still often hard to trust God for everything in life, even when we really try. We still catch ourselves living in the tension caused by a lack of trust. This manifests itself in many ways, which may include worrying, over-working, bitterness, envy, hyper-vigilance, indecisiveness, and so on. Not a fun way to live. This leads to a practical question:
How can I learn to trust God better?
1. I learn to trust God better by seeing trust primarily as an act of the will
Here I go again about the crucial role of our wills. If trusting God is mainly about not experiencing various negative emotions, like anxiety, good luck with that. It’s true that trust in God will increasingly bring us peace, but peace is the by-product of other actions, not the cause. The starting place, as with many spiritual qualities, is a decision made by the will. Job, in the midst of terrible suffering, makes a remarkable statement: “Job 13:15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;” Wow. He’s saying, “I plan to trust God even if I die`.” Now, this doesn’t mean that Job was enjoying his trial or especially happy about it. But by an act of the will, he chose to rest his hope in God regardless. We can do the same. For a better understanding of this, read my previous article – entitled “An act of the will”. Trust is not primarily an emotion, although, in time it often leads to peace.
2. I learn to trust God better by submitting to His will rather than demanding my own
If my trust in God is based on the belief that He’s committed to following my agenda, my trust will fail. While God does make many positive promises to us, He fulfills them in His own way and in His own time. We may trust that we won’t lose our job, but still get laid off. We may trust that we’ll be healthy and still get cancer. To quote an old popular country song, “I never promised you a rose garden”. God’s plan for our life is often different than what we would choose. What we’re trusting is that God will do what’s best, both for His purposes and for our spiritual advancement. To trust God only if He follows our agenda is self-centered, proud, and doomed to failure. He’s the coach. We’re the players. And He knows what He’s doing.
3. I learn to trust God by not requiring that I understand what He’s doing
Job never did get much of an explanation from God after his tremendous suffering. In the end, Job saw the greatness and wisdom of God and decided that was good enough for him. Trust does not require understanding all of God’s ways. Sometimes, we get a glimpse. Often, we do not. What we are trusting is not based on our own understanding. It’s based on our assurance of God’s character and capability. As the psalmist says, “that you O God are strong, and that you O Lord are loving”(Ps. 62). In Heaven, a lot more of life will make sense to us in hindsight, but a lot of our questions will probably also drop away when we see God’s utter greatness and glory.
4. I learn to trust God by putting my concerns into His hands and leaving them there
There’s a time for thinking through life’s issues, but we reach a point where constant rehearsal undermines trust. Tell God about it, ask for wisdom and strength, and then, when the issue, positive or negative keeps resurfacing, hand it back to God and focus on something else. You may have to do this many times in some cases. Say, “It’s in your hands” and refuse to dwell on it.
5. I learn to trust God by praising Him ahead of time
James 4:6 tells us: “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Notice that the thanksgiving precedes God’s answer. Trust is built when we praise God for this faithfulness even before a particular issue is resolved. This is not mere whistling in the dark. It’s faith based on the goodness of God’s promises and His character.
As our trust grows, so does our freedom, peace and joy. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Let’s allow God to take us there.