Over the past three or four months, I’ve been studying through the book of Isaiah with Tony Overstake, U of O’s FCA pastor. In our discussion today we talked about what it means to say that we trust God. This might seem like a no-brainer and not worthy of a 30-minute discussion, but Tony raised a good point: What do we trust in God for?
Keep in mind that this is a pastor who’s been leading people in the faith for a good number of years – at least 8, but if he’s reading this, then it changes to whatever number makes him feel ancient, which he is. Anyhow, my point with this is to say his questioning isn’t for the purpose of debunking the existence of God or some confession that he’s falling away from faith. In fact, it’s in the effort to deepen his faith that he raises the discussion.
What do we really trust God for? Jobs? Spouses? Acceptance into seminaries? Asthma medication? In essence, we typically say that we trust in God for His provision, which is true, but isn’t it possible, hypothetically speaking, to provide for ourselves?
An example is if I were to get fired from my job today, what would I do? I’d probably write a mean blog post, call my old bosses a bunch of mean names, and then delete the post later on (like a minute later, probably). But after that, I’d probably do the sensible thing and figure something out for a new job. And chances are I’d eventually figure something out. So where is God’s hand in all the mix?
Again, it’s a Devil’s-advocate sort of question, but I think it’s helpful to recognize the meaning of the phrases we so often take for granted. Oftentimes we use the Christian buzzwords of forgiveness, repentance, belief, faith, or trust (and there are many, many more) without really knowing or understanding their meaning. So what does it mean when we say that we trust God? What are we trusting Him for if we’re capable of providing for ourselves?
I know, I know, the scenario breaks down if I were to get hit by a car and be paralyzed from the neck down – all of a sudden I wouldn’t be able to provide for myself. But even in that case, I know I have loving friends who’d step in to help. So even then I’d still be cared for. Where’s God’s hand in that?
What Tony and I kept arriving to, though, wasn’t God’s involvement in our every day lives, which we both believe He is, but rather the posture of the heart. When we say we are thankful for God’s provision, we are saying that there is something outside of ourselves at work within ourselves. “For he makes the sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust,” (Matt. 5:45). God causes it for everyone, but only a few recognize it. Even fewer say so.
Of course this turns the issue toward the fact of God causing pain and suffering, but I’ll save the bulk of that issue for another time. What I felt needed to be said here is that our posture is everything. If we believe that we don’t need God and can be fully satisfied and provided for within ourselves, then our lives are going to reflect that. We’ll be self-sufficient and independent and all that jazz. But when our strength fails or when our hearts give out, which they will, what happens then? What happens when we no longer have a choice over our spiritual posture? All I can really say at this point is that I’d rather not find out.
I suppose it comes down to a choice; either we choose to trust ourselves or to trust God, ready to give thanks to Him for what He has done – even if it is merely allowing us to live.
What do you think it means when we say we trust in God? Has become an empty buzzword or does it have the deepest of meanings?
“Give thanks in all circumstances,” (1 Thess. 5:18)