TRUST AND TRUSTWORTHINESS
When we talk of promises, we cannot not address the issue of TRUST and TRUSTWORTHINESS. The world preaches to us – TRUST ONLY YOURSELF – and how many times have we let down our very selves too?! The world today preaches to us the ideal of DISTRUST – don’t risk trusting. It can only end up in betrayal, disappointment, abandonment, disillusion…indeed most of us have experienced this first hand.
There is something I have often done with my children …the “trust fall”. My children trust me – they take the risk to let go and fall into my arms. They know I would not betray them. But there is another side to this. A story about a New York Lawyer tells how he tried out this experiment with his son. The son was afraid to let go at first but then said “it’s daddy…I can trust him”. So there went the son doing this trust fall – but his father let him fall. He came crashing to the ground! “Why daddy?” The lesson his father wanted to teach him…. “You can’t trust anyone, not even your father!” You need to rely only on yourself – you are self-sufficient. Reality and life experience may have shown us this – people have proved to be untrustworthy…because of sin, because of their own brokenness….wherever it is coming from – its result is painful for us. I am sure many of us have experienced this in our own life. Faced with a particular situation in my life, I have been encouraged to look beyond the person to see the brokenness and the neediness of the person who hurt me – this experience had left me feeling robbed of my peace; in pain; and struggling with the issue of trust all over again. However, in it I have also seen the power and beauty of forgiveness, love and genuine reconciliation…but that’s another whole story!
However, one thing which through the darkest moments in my life has remained unwavering is MY TRUST IN GOD. Because I know Him, I knew and I still know that I can only find my peace in Him. I was and still am confident that with Him by my side, I will not be shaken. However, this may not be everyone’s experience. Unfortunately, we may run the danger of taking this mentality into our spiritual lives and our relationship with God. Some of us today may be in this place. I feel with you the pain of not being able to trust – not even God. Because trusting someone is an innate human need and not being able to do it leaves us feeling broken and tired.
HOW CAN I LEARN THAT GOD IS TRUSTWORTHY?
There is one secret – this fear requires that we know that who we are trusting to fulfill his promises, is TRUSTWORTHY. Is he worth my trust? Will he keep his promises? Can I trust him totally with my life? I will find answers to these questions ONLY IF I KNOW WHO IT IS I AM TRUSTING!! This applies also to God. So often our relationship with God is characterized by distance, suspicion, legalism, coldness, formality, withdrawal. God wants INTIMACY from us. There can be no intimacy where there is no trust!
St John Chrysostom says:
“Nothing is equal to prayer – for what is impossible it makes possible; what is difficult easy…It is impossible for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin”.
“I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps 118:9-11).
Prayer helps us understand who God is. A revelation of God I received is that OUR GOD IS A PILGRIM GOD – He walks with us until the end of time – He is walking this journey with us. It reminds me of the Emmaus Walk – Lk 24:15-16:
“As they [the apostles] talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them, but they did not recognize Him.”
How often we too feel so alone and do not realise that God is with us – not recognizing Him while all the while He is with us. But we need to LISTEN to His still small voice in order to recognize Him – and we do this in prayer. I know that GOD IS MY ROCK – He never changes.
Unfortunately God has many competitors fighting for our trust.
“They seek to lull us into a false sense of security, only to devour us once we have given in to their intoxicating charm. God should not be a last resort for our trust, and we shouldn’t turn to Him just because there is no one else to turn to. We should trust Him because He is faithful and fully deserving of our trust.” (T. Williams, p.41)
What are these rivals? …education, intelligence, abilities, position, wealth, friends, networks, ideologies. This is what God has to say about these rivals:
“My people…have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jer 2: 13)
In the desert, water is a precious commodity – people needed to know that these cisterns were storing water….a broken, cracked cistern is useless and proves a big problem – all the rainwater collected there would seep out. A cracked cistern is a dry reservoir, a false promise, an empty mirage.
Jesus uses the same image in John’s Gospel account of his meeting with the Samaritan woman:
“Everyone who drinks of this water (the well) will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” (John 4: 13-14)
Natural water quenches our thirst for a while but we’ll get thirsty again and need to return for more. That is the best we can hope for from the many earthly competitors for our trust. They may fill us for a moment, entertain us for a while – but none of them will prove faithful till the end….GOD WILL!
2. Devouring God’s Word
Closely related to prayer is God’s Word – the Scriptures.
“Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of God” (Rom 11: 17).
God’s Word has for me been a source of strength, encouragement. I can look at my prayer journal and find that in so many situations God spoke His word clearly and directly. His Word pulls me up and reminds me that I CAN TRUST HIM!
“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” (Isa 66:13).
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isa 49: 15,16).
“With God all things are possible.” (Matt 19:26).
God is omnipotent. There is nothing He cannot do….not just running the universe but also in our lives and our problems. He can turn the messes of our lives into something beautiful. He remakes us. He is able to bring good out of evil.
3. Share stories of faith and trust
Faith is contagious. We need to be around people who trust God; we need to listen to people sharing their stories of faith. There have been many moments in my life where I was encouraged and strengthened in my trust for God through someone’s testimony. We need to encourage each other mutually. Growing in trust is so much easier when we are in communion with others – the gift of “community” is a treasure for us. I know that I myself have so often reminded others about God’s faithfulness, love and so on, and helped them grow in their trust once more.
“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph 5:19)
“When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose Word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.” (Ps 56:3-4)
GOD IS INCAPABLE OF BETRAYAL
There is one promise that is a freely given gift – it is unconditional! I don’t deserve it – He gives it to me….HIS LOVE! Nothing I do can stop Him loving me! I cannot work for it! I can only receive it!
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with my loving-kindness." (Jeremiah 31:3).
“God knows that nothing draws us nearer to Him than unconditional trust in His unconditional love.” (T. Williams, p.23)
Because of this unconditional love He has for us, we do not need to fear letting go of our lives in His hands. Back in 2008, God spoke to me powerfully through a book I was reading (Frangipane, In the Presence of God) and I prayed a heartfelt prayer:
“I want to become a passenger in the vehicle of your will, a vehicle in which you yourself are both captain and navigator”.
I pray it constantly. And I know I can afford to pray that prayer because God is incapable of betrayal!
WHAT DOES HE WANT FROM US?
God wants our boundless trust – We try to spread out our investments and have a “back-up” plan if God “fails”. Or we turn to him only when our “plan A” fails. He wants our “all for you” strategy. He wants our practical trust - in real difficulty we PANIC and look for possible securities. Turn to him IMMEDIATELY.
Remember our Father knows best. God knows what he is doing – we need to trust Him not only in the big picture but in the daily run of the mill details of our lives. Sometimes we have to let things unfold before we discover God’s wisdom. Our trust in God is our gift to Him. I encourage you to use the Book of Psalms in your prayer time – it is the Book of Trust!!
I conclude with a lovely quotation from St Therese of Lisieux:
“My ‘little way’ is the way of spiritual childhood, the way of trust and absolute surrender.”