In 1986 Billy Joel wrote a hit single entitled: It’s a Matter of Trust. Here’s one of the lyrics: “Some love is just a lie of the heart. The cold remains of what began with a passionate start. But that can’t happen to us. Because it’s always been a matter of trust.”
I’ve been a Christian for forty-three years. Jesus-followers learn early on that trust is the ground floor of a relationship with Him. You’d think after forty-three years, trusting God would be a done deal. That it wouldn’t need revisiting. But it seems like trust in our Heavenly Father is more of a journey than a destination. At least for me. If you looked at my prayer journal this year, you’d notice a boatload of entries centering around trust. It’s almost embarrassing. How long will it be until I finally nail this trust thing?
Now—it’s not God’s fault trust is an ongoing challenge. He is always good. Always faithful. But the truth is we don’t always understand Him. “If God loves me so much . . . why does He let bad stuff happen to me?” Ever said or thought that? Sometimes bad things happen to good people. And good things to bad people. Life from our limited human perspective seems unfair from time to time. And yet in the face of these kinds of confusing events, God wants us to trust Him.
Trust is not denial. It doesn’t pretend everything in life is wonderful. Denial and pretension don’t build our trust in God. Trust stays in touch with reality; it’s honest about what’s happening in our lives; but at the same time, it believes God cares and is working on our behalf.
Do you find yourself periodically struggling to trust God? Or maybe often struggling? If so, how do you get to the place of more consistent trust? Let me offer three behaviors that I think will move us in trust’s direction:
When my boys were little, we had a pool at our house. They would stand by the side of the pool, deciding whether or not to jump into my waiting arms. I could see the wheels were turning in their little heads: “Is dad going to catch me if I jump in the pool?” “And what happens if he doesn’t?” Surrendering to God looks a lot like that. You jump into His arms and trust He will catch you. You shove fear aside and plunge in. And you discover He won’t drop you or let you drown. He may not always make sense to you, but if you’re His child, He will never forsake you.
Trust grows when we resist the temptation to harden our hearts when life gets ugly. We live in a world where bad stuff occurs, and people disappoint us. In real life, prayers don’t always get answered the way we want them to. The road to our dream often takes an irritating detour, or we hit potholes along the way that shake our confidence. All of these realities have the potential to harden our hearts.
Staying tender is easier when we talk to God about those disappointments, detours, and potholes. Having a two-way conversation with Him can keep our heart from getting calloused. In addition, sharing our disappointments with trusted friends who listen and reflect truth back to us is another way we can remain tender. Life in a fallen world tends to lead to a stiffening of our heart. Trust gets easier when we resist that tendency.
I could tell you dozens of stories about God’s faithfulness to me and my family over the past forty-three years. I keep a journal of these events to help me remember. When your trust is shaken, recall the moments where God met your needs, when He protected you and those you care about. Remember the miracles and the prayers He answered with a “yes.” The more we remember those yesterdays when God visibly came through for us, the easier it becomes to trust Him today.
On this side of heaven, I don’t think we’ll ever fully arrive when it comes to trust. If you’re struggling with it today, don’t beat yourself up. Maybe you just need to surrender again. Jump off the side of pool and into God’s loving arms. He won’t drop you.
If you’ve already taken that leap, perhaps you just need to work a bit more on staying tender. Get close to Him through daily two-way conversations. Share your trust issues with someone you can count on to tell the truth.
And if you’re a veteran Jesus-follower, maybe you simply need to add remembering to your daily alone time with Him. Revisit the times He intervened, provided, and protected.
Because when it comes to following Jesus . . . it really is a matter of trust.
I’m rooting and praying for you!