When was the last time you heard a Christian actually admit, “I’m just not trusting God”?
“I’m trusting God” has become an answer to how we are doing when things get difficult. It’s a shallow way of answering ourselves and others because we cognitively know it’s right. More times than not, it takes hard experiences to show whether or not our trust is all that real. When death comes knocking, when people lie about us, when our abuser goes free, trusting God all the sudden feels foolish to our flesh.
When earthly circumstances control our trust in God, it reveals a superficial faith that rises and falls depending on the chaos of daily occurrences.
How do we ensure that our trust in God is solid? How do we prepare ourselves for the storms that will no doubt rage? And when we’re in the storm, how do we know if we’re really trusting God?
Believe God’s character to be true without reservation
Trusting God makes no sense apart from God’s perfect character. We trust him because we love him, and we love him if truly know him. To know him means dwelling on who he says that he is. He is perfect in wisdom (Rom 11:33), perfect in love (Jer 31:3), perfect in knowledge (1 Jn 3:20) and perfect in sovereignty (Prov 21:30). We prepare our trust for confusing hardship by learning about and meditating on the reality of God’s beautiful nature during peaceful times.
Reconcile God’s sovereignty with your pain without reservation.
When adversity strikes, it doesn’t land outside of his perfection (Ecc 7:14). Your heartache and God’s sovereignty go hand and hand (Is 55:8-9). Not because he wants you to feel pain, the cross proved that he takes our suffering on himself. But God will not stop at anything to transform his children into his own character. Sorrow creates a godly nature. Christians learn through trials. When we grieve and simultaneously run towards truth, it develops a Christlikeness that we will not otherwise have (James 1:4). God’s kind sovereignty creates holy depth and kind humility amidst personal affliction.
Know that Jesus is your Savior without reservation.
Our circumstances never change Jesus’ status as Savior. Or better yet, our status as being saved. The gospel is true no matter what. Jesus’ death on the cross is not moved by your lack of trusting God. Our sin is the reason for his sacrifice. To dwell on the good news of Jesus builds resilient faith. It reminds us that salvation has nothing to do with our finite selves and everything to do with our perfect Savior Jesus (Eph 2). No sin can change that. No earthly authority or power can change that. No disease can change that. No heartache can change that. Jesus is our Savior, period.
Know Jesus is your friend without reservation.
Jesus is also the friend that will never fail you (Jn 15:13). You can actively have faith by remembering he is your friend when others are not (Prov 18:24). He is your friend whether you’re homeless or you have all the money in the world. He is your friend whether you succeed or whether you fail. He is your friend when others judge you and seek to harm you (Rom 8). Jesus is always praying on your behalf (Heb 7:25). Jesus is always with you (Is 41:10).
Pray without reservation.
Once you ardently seek to believe that God is good, prayer will come to life (Ps 32:6). We can pray for what God wants us to have with utter certainty (Matt 6:8). We can pray for help knowing he will give it (James 1:5). We can pray for a changed heart knowing that he will change us (Matt 7:7). We can pray for grace knowing that he will offer it (Heb 4:16). We can pray for strength knowing that he’ll deliver us (Ps 34:4). We pray expectantly and without reservation because he wants us to have the very thing we are praying for more than we even do (Ps 85:12). When our children ask for whatever we already want to give them, it brings us joy. God finds joy in us praying for what we need in order to please him (Ps 9:10). When we pray, we find peace without reservation (Prov 3:5).
Trusting God without reservation isn’t just an idea to think about, it’s a dynamic understanding of who God is, the things that he has done and the kind of Father who loves answering his children’s prayers. It takes work to keep our hearts from drifting toward false ideas or images of God. My circumstances tell me not to trust a God I can’t see, but the Bible tells me I have a God whose love I cannot be separated from (Rom 8:31-38). It tells me that his will is perfect and that he uses pain to get me ready to be the heavenly human I will become after death (James 1:3-4).
Trusting God isn’t just a good idea with right theology. Trusting God is a person to know, a God to seek and an action to do.
Recommended resources for further study: