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Learning WHAT to Trust

My arms weakly, slowly lifted my body to an upright position. I sat, swaying back and forth on my unmade bed. I brought my hand to my face, then moved it through my unkempt hair. I stared at my clothes, which were wet from tears. Grunting loudly, I got out of bed. God was supposed to hear my (dramatic) grunt. I wanted Him to hear my distraught disappointment with what He is doing in my life.

“God, I trusted you!” And look where it left me.

What is it like to trust God? From my experience, trusting God can result in disappointment or complete satisfaction. There is one main factor determining which of these I experience.

This determining factor is: WHAT am I trusting God to do?

This distinction of trust is significant. If I am trusting God to provide happiness for me, for Him to give me an easy life, and for Him to never take away things I hold closely, I am most likely going to be disappointed.

This has been my story for years. I prayed for a miracle just to receive the opposite. As a result, I determined that trusting God was pointless. It took so much effort to trust that He would take care of me and answer my prayers, and then I would be ignored (or at least that’s what I thought).

BUT, to put it simply, I was trusting in the wrong things.

God never tells us that trusting in Him will give us a painless, perfect life. I knew this in my head, but not in my heart. The way that Christian culture speaks of God’s provision only leaves room for God’s blessings to be what we want, not what He knows is best. We often speak of God’s blessings as marriage and friendship and new jobs. We don’t consider that some of God’s greatest blessings to us could be breakups, layoffs, and time to ourselves.

God wants to answer our prayers, but only with what He considers ‘good.’ No matter how much we ask for a less-than-the-best thing, He will not give it to us. I could beg God for the chance to marry Leonardo DiCaprio. After all, marriage is a Godly request. Even if He says “no” to my marriage with Leo out of His love for me, I could see Him as cruel and never trust Him again. I could be disappointed and determine that prayers don’t work. The only reason we can accept His “no” as a blessing from Him is by trust. This is true for accepting his “no” in all things: we need trust. But trust in what?

When we trust God to give us only what we consider good for us, we will likely be disappointed. This is not what God promised us. I would constantly feel let down by God for not giving me things that He never promised me.

He promised me even more.

God IS trustworthy, and here are some things He is trustworthy to be and give:

1. God works for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

It’s hard to trust in this when we experience pain or worse yet, when loved ones die too early. How can God work for our good when loved ones die? There are many mysteries in the world, but we know that God sees death differently than we do. He never wanted pain and death for us…BUT He never wanted us to live in this imperfect world forever. His goodness wouldn’t allow it. He wants to offer us heaven and wants to show His glory on earth. Those good things will forever eclipse our idea of good. Even if my life is hard, God knows that a hard life knowing God is better than a perfect life without knowing God.

2. God wants all people, loves all people, and will pursue all people.

We can trust that He wants to offer His salvation and eternal goodness to everyone. He wants every person to Himself and He will endlessly pursue all. We trust that He knows what we do not. He knows people’s hearts and people’s futures. I have complete trust that God does not sit in heaven, waiting to end our lives the first moment we fall away from faith. He is not trying to trick us. Maybe (pure wondering) God, seeing every man’s future, will not cut a man’s life short if He knows (like only He could) that His conversion is coming. (Or) Maybe He somehow appeals to people before they die. WHO KNOWS! BUT, I do know that God loves all and wants all, and I trust that He handles issues like this fairly and gracefully, as only He could. I also trust that He is almighty and wise. He knows what He is doing, and we better believe it is in love.

3. While on earth, God wants for us to be with Him.

He wants us to know our worth and to be a part of His kingdom with Him. He calls us “coheirs.” We can trust that God did not send us to this earth to be purposeless wanderers. Even more, we can trust that He wants us to have endless joy and peace. He enables freedom. He knows how much heaviness is on the world and He WANTS us to be free from that fear and depression. He gives us His Spirit to help.

4. There will be pain.

Though He offers to deliver us from despair and depression, He tells us that there will be trouble on earth. We can trust in this. Though there is pain, we know it is temporary. We also know that, somehow, God will use it for good. He will show us more of Himself through any kind of hurt. We can trust that there will be death and sin, but we can also trust that He empathizes with us and uses even our worst pains to bring us closer to Him- enabling the greatest joy of being with God.

5. The pressure is off of us.

We trust that God took the brunt of our sin. We no longer have to be perfectionist strivers. He has told us that, because of our belief in Jesus, He is with us and does not need us to be flawless in order to earn His presence. He covers our sin and forgives us. We are clean! We can trust that nothing we ever do will separate us from His love.

When I realized what I was trusting about God, I began to put all of my choices in His hands. Now, when I trust Him and I am hurt in return, I do not recoil my trusting hand. I know that His goodness is inconceivable to me at times, but completely trustworthy. When I pray and God answers with a breakup, layoff, and time alone, I want to be so trusting in God that I thank Him for the provision that I cannot see. Though I believe He wants me to pray for what I want (what would make me happy), I have full trust that when the opposite of my request happens, God is not ignoring or hating me. God wants to answer our prayers, but only when they lead to His ultimate good. Though we do not understand how this could be true at times, He asks us to trust that He does understand. He asks us to trust that He works for the good of those who love Him, that He pursues all people, that He is with us, and that regardless of pain experienced, He saves us and the pressure is off of our own deeds. I have experienced this kind of trust in the last month, and along with it, I have experienced joy tenfold. Trusting God’s goodness on His terms has given me hope. I feel freedom to ask Him for things in prayer without fear that He won’t answer. I KNOW He will answer in the way that is best, and for that -despite my confusion- I am thankful.

Published for Grafted Magazine

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