Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5–6, ESV).
It’s easy to tell others to trust in God when they’re struggling with something. It’s much harder to trust when the struggle is our own. We all too often become consumed with our circumstances, not seeing the forest for the trees, as the old saying goes.
Trust may be a restful place, but it’s certainly not a passive thing. Trust is about as active as it gets. It doesn’t just happen. In fact, if we wait for trust to come to us, we’ll be waiting a long, long time.
We choose to trust
In any group of people, there will always be some who are more or less trusting than others. Sometimes, this trust (or lack of it) is based on childhood experiences or a major event in our lives.
When we choose to trust God, we’re literally putting our lives in his hands. He’s the only one who has ultimate control over life and death 100 percent of the time, regardless of the circumstances we may find ourselves in.
And we need to trust that he knows what he’s doing and that he has our best in mind.
I think the biggest problem we have when trusting God is that we measure him by our own human standards. We assume there’s even a small percent of a chance that he could fail in some way, and we’ll be left worse off than we started.
I learned to not trust certain people
As the child of an alcoholic father, I learned that I couldn’t trust my dad in many ways. He was steady in his provision for our family, and I never had any doubt that he would keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. But he wasn’t steady in his emotions and reactions, and I never knew whether I was getting the dad who would listen quietly and give a thoughtful response, or the dad who would react in anger and provoke an argument.
I also learned that I couldn’t trust my mother, because she would react emotionally based on how everything affected her. To be fair to her, she was probably always dealing with my dad’s unpredictability, and that would cause her own stress. But she also tended toward the narcissistic, and no matter what was going on in our lives, she would somehow turn it around to make sure that everyone knew how she was affected, and how inconvenienced she was by the things that happened to others.
She also could not be trusted to keep a conversation in confidence, so even into adulthood, I held back from sharing anything that was close to my heart or important. The times I made myself vulnerable to her inevitably came back to haunt me when I heard from others that she was sharing those things I’d confided to her.
I knew this about my parents, and yet I still continued to want to trust them. Eventually, our relationship was broken because of those trust breaches, to the point where I felt that all our interactions were superficial. I could no longer share any of the important things in my life with them, good or bad.
So what stops me from trusting in God?
Is my lack of trust in God at times because I don’t know him well enough to really grasp his nature? I mean, if I know him . . . really know him . . . I should know that he is trustworthy. With everything. Good or bad, big or small, I can put my worries into his hands and he will know exactly what to do with them for my good, for his glory.
He’s shown, not only in the Bible but in my own life, that he is perfectly trustworthy.
He will do what he says he will do. He acts in a way that’s consistent with his nature and his promises. A friend of mine used to say he was always amazed at people who seemed surprised when God came through for them in a difficult situation. He said, “We should be surprised when he doesn’t!”
What if I like my path better?
We also tend to fall into the trap of thinking that God’s best for us involves something we’re going to be miserable about. After all, don’t we know better than anyone what makes us happy? How can we trust that God isn’t going to make us give up one of the things we enjoy most?
I should laugh at the ridiculous nature of that thought. I mean, really. Why would a loving God want us to be miserable? His every action, every chastisement, is based on having a closer relationship with us. So I have to trust that if he is indeed asking me to give something up, then that something must somehow be hindering me from a deeper relationship with him.
In all these things, I need to trust him. To choose to trust him. To pray for the strength to trust him.
The song “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” talks about that rest when we believe his promises, and yet the final line of the chorus is a prayer for grace to trust him more. It really is a choice.
Oh for grace, Lord, to trust you more.