I remember when I was about 12 years old choosing Proverbs 3:5-6 as my life verses. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” As I grew in my Christian walk, I discovered I had problems with the word trust. What exactly did it mean that I trusted God? I had faith in God. I believed He existed. I believed I needed to obey Him. But what exactly did it mean to trust Him?
Author and teacher Dallas Willard wrote, “Trust is sloppy. It’s out there on the street, in the field of battle. Trust is where Satan and God are struggling for the soul of man!” In my life, trust definitely seemed to be a battleground. I mean, if I really trusted God, then why did I worry so much? If I really trusted God, why did I wrestle with an underlying river of anxiety that seemed to ebb and flow? If I really trusted God, why did I wonder when difficulty came if He was mad at me? Ah, trust certainly is messy!
Trust, according to the dictionary, is “confident expectation.” It’s a reliance with certainty that someone is good and has our best interests at heart. While we know that to be true in our heads, when life throws us a curveball it’s easy for doubt to fill our minds. Yet the truth is that the only place our trust is truly strengthened is in the fire of trouble. Think about it.
Job had a great life until God allowed Satan to tear his life to shreds. Only then did Job cry out, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15). By clinging to His hope in God, trust was developed in Job. Finally, Job falls to the ground worshipping God and crying out, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5). Job emerged from the furnace of suffering with a truer, clearer picture of God.
The truth is, without an element of suffering, our faith is usually pretty shallow. Oftentimes before we suffer, we faultily believe that “God is good to me because I am good.” That’s not worship of God. That’s worship of yourself.
The Holy Spirit must purge our faith of any thought that God is good to us because we are good. God’s goodness is completely other. Does He reward us for strong faith? Sure. But our goodness doesn’t govern His goodness.
So how do we cultivate trust? We certainly don’t want to ask for suffering! And just because you’re afraid of suffering doesn’t mean you don’t trust God. As I’ve been thinking about this, here are a few suggestions I have for cultivating a life of trusting in God:
When trials come, don’t run from God, cling to Him! The Psalmist David wrote during a very dark hour in his life, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you.” He goes on to write, “I cling to you; your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63:1, 8). Whenever I read those words about clinging to him, my mind travels back to when our kids were little. Steve would take them out in the waves. With the surf crashing all around them, the kids would cling to Steve with tiny arms, strangling his neck. But here’s the thing: even if their arms had slipped, Steve’s arms would have held tight. He would not allow them to be swallowed by the angry surf! It’s the same in our relationship with God. Cling to Him in times of trouble. But, even if your grip let’s go, His won’t.
When trials come, declare out loud, “God, I trust you”. Our words are powerful. As you declare your trust out loud, the Holy Spirit strengthens your faith. The Psalmist declares out loud, “I will sing of your love and justice” (Psalm 101:1). Exercise your power of choice over your feelings. Use your mouth for good during these difficult days. Choose the words that come out of your mouth carefully!
When trials come, don’t lean on your human understanding. Like the life verses that I chose from Proverbs say, “Don’t lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:6). Your understanding is human. You will not always understand why God allows suffering, nor why He doesn’t step in quickly and do something about it. At some point in your trust journey, you must accept that He is God and you are not! If you understood everything about him, He wouldn’t be big enough for you to trust!
Friend, spend some time this week asking God to strengthen your trust in Him. Praise Him that He is trustworthy even when you’re not sure. What comes out of your mouth is powerful – so choose to declare your trust. And finally, don’t lean on your own human understanding. Instead, in everything, ask God for His wisdom.
I’m praying for you as
you navigate these unprecedented times. Feel free to contact me with your
 Dallas Willard, Life Without Lack, (Nashville, TN., Nelson Books, 2018), 106