Many people struggle with how to deal with the unrest that seems to be affecting the whole world. In the Christian circle, one might say, 'Well, we just need to trust God.' However, that can become a sort of cliché if we don't totally understand what it means. Today, David Levitt, teaching elder at Hope of the Generations Church, addresses the question, 'What does the Bible say about trusting in God?' He explains what it means to trust God, the things that might get in the way of your ability to trust Him, and how to walk in trusting God practically.
Finding rest in a restless world
Recently, while reading through the gospel, according to Matthew, I paused when I came to the well-known and popular scripture, Matthew 11:28-30.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 KJV
I thought about all the unrest that is occurring this year, and the restlessness that plagues mankind day in and day out. I began to see every day the areas of my own life that I had allowed myself to become restless and began seeking the Father as to why.
The importance of trusting in God
While praying, it was becoming clear to me that rest and peace certainly did not depend on the physical world around us, but that it was utterly dependent on one primary thing:
TRUSTING IN GOD.
I remembered another well-known scripture that confirmed what I was understanding.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength. Isaiah 26:3-4 KJV
There it was! We are in peace because our mind is on Him, but it is only because we TRUST in Him.
What does it mean to trust?
I really like Webster's 1828 definition of trust.
Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship, or other sound principles of another person.
Trust has little to do with the one that is trusting and more to do with whom they are trusting in.
Trust, by definition, is something that has to be IN another. When we trust in God, we are personally trusting Him with ourselves. We are putting our confidence in Him and not ourselves or others.
What does the Bible say about trusting God?
Here I sit, with a burden to write about what it means to trust God, but it is such a vast topic.
It seems like everywhere I look in the Bible there is something to be understood and applied when it comes to trusting in God. I suppose I could write a blog per week, for the rest of my life, on what the Bible says about trusting God and not even come close to exhausting all there is to say on the matter.
So for the sake of time, I would like to look at a few scriptures in Jeremiah that I think can cover a lot of ground in this area of trusting God. Jeremiah 17:5-9 describes what happens when we don't trust God and what happens when we do trust God. Let's start with verse 5.
Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. Jeremiah 17:5 KJV
Sometimes a good word is a hard word
That is pretty straightforward and maybe even difficult to hear. But before I get going on unpacking this verse, let me say this:
We often just want to be encouraged in the Word to do the right things. But the older I get, the more I realize that only being encouraged in the right things doesn't really move us to change. We often have to be shown the consequences and gravity of our decisions to incite action to change. Proverbs 16:6 says:
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. Proverbs 16:6 KJV
I want to help us understand the 'negative' aspect in these scriptures so that the Holy Spirit can help move us into the fear of the LORD. That way, we can depart from those things like not to trust God, which does not please him. In departing from sin, we draw nearer to Him instead of being indifferent in certain areas of our lives when it comes to trusting God.
Putting our trust in the wrong place
Now, let's get to verse 5 of Jeremiah 17. The first mistake most of us make is trusting in another human being, including ourselves. It's not that we aren't to trust others like our family and friends, but no other human being can save you, deliver you, heal you, lead you, or know what is best for you like your Father does. The phrase 'and maketh flesh his arm' means to make some human who is flesh and made of dust, your strength. Well, if we are honest, there is not much strength there. They are trying to figure it out like the rest of us. In going back to Isaiah 26:3-4. It says that in JEHOVAH, there is everlasting strength.
However, the principle in verse 5 that causes me the most concern and consideration is the reality that when we trust in man, we are departing from the LORD. What a sobering thought! Every time we put our trust in another or our confidence in something else like money or power, we are departing from the Living God.
It's more than not trusting God
I don't know about you, but that is a grievous thought to me, and it convicts me thinking about all the times I have trusted in something or someone else besides Him for my well-being, my hope, and my life. We do it unknowingly, or we think it is not that big of a deal, but we don't understands that by doing so, we are leaving God. It is more than 'not trusting' it is departing from Him. You may say, 'That sounds a bit extreme, surely God understands.' But the Word says that we are departing.
It is not pleasing to God when we do not trust in the Lord; it is a sin against Him. I don't want to sin against God; I don't want to displease Him.
And we all must face the reality that when we don't trust in God, we are departing from Him. This verb departing in verse 5 in the Hebrew is an imperfect tense, meaning that there is not necessarily a completed act, but one that simply is ongoing. By continuing to not trust in God, we are continually departing from Him further and further. The result is a heart that is slowly being hardened.
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; Hebrews 3:12-14 KJV
Why should we repent?
I don't know about you, but this makes me want to repent for not trusting the Lord for certain areas of my life. I would usually wait until the end of a blog like this to bring a call to personal repentance, but by then, the conviction may be gone.
We repent not because we are remorseful or regretting how things worked out for us because we may not have been trusting in God, but simply because we sinned against Him, and we want to be restored back to Him. We don't repent because we want out of a consequence, but because we want to be back in fellowship with Him. He is a trustworthy God, worthy of our trust above any other.
The first step towards a new start of trusting God
So before you keep reading, stop, and take a few minutes and talk to your Father. Confess to Him those areas you have not been trusting in Him; that you have been trusting in something else or simply yielded to the spirit of fear. Confess to Him that by doing that, you departed from him and sinned against Him. You may be thinking, 'This is kind of harsh, and that is tough to confess just like that. Can't we lighten it up? Can't I just make an adjustment and move on? I promise I will do better…'
I have found repentance works best when you are totally honest and discerning about what the reality of the sin was, and these scriptures are pretty clear. Be as specific as you can and tell Him you want to do it differently, moving forward. Ask Him to help you. Receive His forgiveness, and He will begin to cleanse you from all unrighteousness in this area. So pause and take a moment to do this before you keep reading if you are convicted by the Holy Spirit that you have not been trusting in Him in certain areas.
Great job! Remember to give yourself time. Trust is built over time as you trust in God, and He shows himself faithful. Keep trusting. As you learn to trust, it will become more natural to trust in the Lord.
The consequences of not trusting God
The next verse begins to describe the curse that comes:
For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, [in] a salt land and not inhabited. Jeremiah 17:6 KJV
This describes a person that can't seem to find God, is fearful much, if not all of the time, is not thriving, and maybe struggles with diseases and other infirmities. If you find yourself in this place, resist the temptation to get down about it. Instead, begin trusting in God right in the middle of the desert and the parched wilderness. Not trusting in Him is what gets a person there, so the antidote is to begin trusting in Him, and He will show you the way out.
I cannot tell you how often I have been in a situation, and I saw no way out. I would have a mental checklist of how it could happen, but those things would never happen. Then, out of nowhere, a way of escape would come, and God would deliver and make straight the situation.
TRUST IN HIM RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE AT AND AS MUCH AS LIES IN YOU. DON'T EVER STOP.
What are the benefits of trusting God?
Verses 7-8 begins to tell us:
Blessed [is] the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and [that] spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 KJV
Notice, first of all, how connected having hope is to trust. Trust in the LORD allows us to hope in the LORD. No trust, no hope. This principle repeats in Romans 15:12-13
And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. 13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Romans 15:12-13 KJV
Now certainly, this is in the context of Gentiles being grafted into the promises of Israel, and it clearly states that is made possible by the Gentiles trusting in Christ.
Verse 13 says NOW. Paul is saying, now that you are grafted in by trusting in the promised seed (Jesus Christ), may the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing (ongoing trust and confidence in Christ), that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost. Are you struggling to find hope? Examine your heart before God and see if there is an area that you are not trusting in Him with your life.
There is no quick fix for trusting God
The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? – Jeremiah 17:9
It is easy to slip into putting our trust in ourselves or others. We look for the quickest fix and the most immediate answer. Often neither of those is what comes when we trust in God. Trusting in God is saying we will wait on Him no matter how long it takes.
Our hearts can be deceitful, so we always need to subject them before God to know where we are at with Him. Often we have departed from Him and don't even realize it until the consequences are there.
The power of trusting God
Trust is such a powerful and fragile thing. Trust in God can bring us through absolutely anything in life. Even death itself. But trust that is broken through believing lies or someone betraying you can produce a broken heart in which we cannot give and receive love without fear.
Basically, we don't trust.
Right now, from where I sit, if you were to ask me how to describe a proper relationship in just one word, I would say, TRUST. Things you have faith for may happen, things you are hoping for may happen, but trust will always keep you connected to the Godhead. In that, His perfect will can be accomplished in you.
Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven today. If you have a broken heart from lies you believed about God, or betrayals of another that makes it difficult for you to trust anyone, including God, repent to Him. Repent to God for believing a lie about Him and comparing Him to another person. I assure you God is still in the business of healing broken hearts.
Act on your trust in God
As you begin to trust in Him, start to act on that trust. Don't hide and avoid things, do the things that represent that you have the God of all the universe as your Father and that you trust in Him. Trust Him to lead you, catch you when you fall, heal you, establish you, and even raise you from the dead by His Spirit.
Finally, I must conclude by saying that this is a very personal decision. No one can trust in God for you. It is something that each person must decide that they want to do in their lifetime. Remember trusting in someone means you are not trusting in your merit, but the merit of the one you are trusting in. Don't look to yourself or to others. Look to Him that made you, has a plan for you, and wants to live with you forever and who also has the power to make all that happen.
I want to end simply by reciting the chorus to one of my favorite hymns.
Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
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