Trust is a loaded word, carrying with it the weight of our past experiences, good and bad. When we were children most of us trusted easily. We grew up believing that we could rely on our parents and family to be there for us and not to hurt us. Everyone starts out in life with a posture of unconditional trust toward others, not simply out of naiveté but also out of necessity as we must depend on others to care for us.
Somewhere along the line we experience hurt from those we trusted, or we begin to see the imperfections of others, and our trust is broken. So we learn that trust is something people must earn from us, it is not to be given unconditionally. This is a vital lesson as we become adults and navigate adult relationships.
If we don’t fully learn this lesson, we find ourselves giving of our complete trust to those who don’t deserve it. They may not deserve it simply because they have not spent the time and energy to show their trustworthiness, or they may have betrayed us altogether.
Inevitably we will face a major wound if we operate this way. Everyone will break our trust (and vice versa) at some point, for that is our sinful human condition. Therefore, it is wise to tread carefully in human relationships.
But what of this, if any, applies to the way we relate to God? Must God earn our trust in order for it to be given? Is he trustworthy? How do we know?
The Most Trustworthy One
And those who know your name put their trust in you, O LORD, who have not forsaken those who seek you.
The Psalms are full of references to trusting God. Trust for God, trust in his precepts, or mentions of his trustworthiness can be found in at least 29 of the Psalms. I think Psalm 22 is one of the most universally informative Psalms on the subject of trust.
King David begins by crying out to God in distress, grieving over the distance he feels from God as he is assailed by those who hate him. But in his next breath he recounts that “in you our fathers trusted… and you delivered them” (v. 4). David goes on to say that he is hated and the people mock him saying, “He trusts in the Lord, let him deliver him” (v. 8). But God has been trustworthy in the past, so he can be trusted to be near despite all that David is facing. He calls the people to praise the Lord and trust in his promises of salvation and justice, whatever their present situation.
Psalm 22 teaches the following truths about trust in God:
- Trust is earned by actions that prove one can be trusted. Though our lives may not always be as we’d like them to be, God has given us a way other than our fickle emotions and limited understanding to gauge his trustworthiness. He has laid out an entire history of his faithfulness and character in his word that is all the proof we need to conclude that he is worthy of our trust at all times.
- If we choose to, we can look back on our own experiences, especially on the other side of difficulty, and see how God has made “all things work together” for our good (Rom. 8:28). Not only has he given us thousands of years of history to show us that he is trustworthy, but in his infinite goodness he also condescends to reveal it to us personally. You may not see the purpose for your illness right now, for instance, and perhaps you won’t during this lifetime. But chances are you can look back at other times when God used difficult circumstances for good and see that you can trust him to do so even with your illness.
- As God is the one who ordains our birth, who “knits us together” in the womb (Ps. 139), we are completely dependent on him before we could ever choose to trust him. In this way our unconditional trust for our parents growing up is a picture of how we had to trust God for provision before we even took our first breath. It is also a picture of how we are to trust him throughout our lives; as helpless children needing the care of our father.
- Trust in God looks like foolishness to the world. Our culture puts little stock in faith, and trust in something that is unseen requires faith. Those who trust in the might of this world will scoff at our faith when chronic illness comes upon us and leaves us painfully aware of our powerlessness to save ourselves. But we know as Psalm 20:7-8 says, “some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.”
- God has made promises to his people from the beginning, and all have come to pass except those that are ahead of us. Not once has he broken a promise, even when it seemed to those who were waiting for its fulfillment that he had abandoned them. Think of the Israelites waiting to enter the land of Canaan! He has promised salvation for those who put their trust in Christ. Righteousness for those of us who were washed in the blood of Jesus. He has also promised to restore our bodies when Christ returns, and in all these we can trust because God has proven himself in history and in our own lives. “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor for the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf” (Heb. 6:19-20). We can trust God because we have hope for the future through the sacrifice and resurrection of his son.
Put Your Trust in God!
When it comes to trusting God, we run none of the risks that human relationships present. He deserves unconditionally the trust of his people, and he has proven himself trustworthy before we even came into this world. He is God the creator who didn’t need to prove himself to us, but he chose to. Even to the point of a humiliating, undeserved death on a cross. How do we know he is trustworthy?
How do we convince our doubting hearts to trust him? We must know him, and to do that we read his word. If you find yourself anxious, wondering where God is, questioning his goodness, read the Bible and let others teach you. Get to know your Father and you will come to understand that he can be trusted to take care of you.