What Does It Mean To Trust God?
By Kris Baines, Eternal Purpose Ministries
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths”. - Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
Among the most commonly used Christian phrases, “trust God” must be right up there. Of course, this makes sense, as that’s what the Christian life is all about, right?
We first trusted in Christ alone for salvation (Ephesians 1:12), we trust in Christ for our sanctification (John 17:19), and we are to trust in Christ during our times of tribulation (James 1:5-6).
Most Christians know this, but the actual practice of trusting God, particularly in times of trial and testing, can be a great challenge for us.
Although we know we should and can trust God, when we actually need to do this, we don’t always know what that looks like.
Do I just think more positively and hope for the best?
Do I pray with more intensity?
Do I tell myself everything will work out?
Do I quote certain verses and ‘claim victory’ over my difficult circumstances?
Sadly, that is the way some believers approach trusting in God, but it’s not what Scripture encourages us to do.
Finding Help From God's Word
This short article does not allow us the time to expound the depths of God’s Word as it relates to trusting God, but I hope it will be of some help to calibrate and focus our thinking about it.
Trusting God is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
As we look to Proverbs 3:5-6, we can gain some helpful wisdom to lead us closer to trusting God in the way He intends us to.
Firstly, verse 5 gets our focus where it should be by saying “Trust in the Lord”.
That’s pretty basic I know, but it’s so easy to forget this.
The word ‘trust’ speaks of dependence.
Our flesh doesn’t like this concept because it means we get no credit.
We don’t trust in our abilities, our gifts, our strength of will, or our discipline.
We trust in the Lord, like a child, and as verse 5 also says, this should be done with all your heart.
That’s dependence; That’s a single-minded focus that has its confidence in God and God alone.
The Need For A Biblical Perspective
The next part of verse 5 cautions us against a critical error we so easily make when seeking to trust God: that of taking our eyes off of Him and placing them on our circumstances. When Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he could walk on water.
However, as soon as he looked at his situation with his own understanding, he began to sink.
So too, in our trials and challenging circumstances we also can ‘sink’ when we take our eyes off of Christ, and instead seek to understand our situation from a human perspective, which easily leads to despair.
Speaking of the exhortation to trust God in prayer in Philippians 4:6-7, a pastor once said “Don’t seek the peace that comes from understanding, seek the peace that passes understanding”.
That’s a peace that comes from trusting in the Lord with all your heart and choosing not to lean on your own understanding.
As those verses in Philippians suggest, this is active not passive on our part: as we turn each anxiety into a dependant prayer, and take each thought captive to be renewed with biblical thinking (2 Corinthians 10:5, Romans 12:1-2).
In verse 6 of Proverbs 3, we are again reminded of the need to bring God into each and every situation, through prayer and conscious thought of His presence, His promises, and His power as the sovereign God who is working all things together for His good and wise purposes (Rom 8:28).
The last part of verse 6 gives us assurance that God will direct our paths, but there’s nothing there that says He will direct our paths into easier or more comfortable territory.
This is not God’s way of saying “everything will work out fine in your lifetime”, but rather, “I will lead you exactly where you need to be”.
Yes, one day in eternity things will “all work out fine”, and that is the way we should understand the word ‘good’ in Romans 8:28.
But for now we look towards our future hope, whether things improve or not for us right now, trusting God and being encouraged that the fact that He is with us is what is most important – even if we still have to endure trials and suffering (just ask Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego!).
Lastly, from a purely practical perspective, rather than seeing trusting God as us needing to be doing certain things we weren’t before, I like to think of trusting God as also asking God for the grace to not stop doing the things that should mark our lives as believers.
In other words, if you are daily in the word, sincerely seeking the Lord in prayer, engaged in your local church, taking part in the means of grace and in fellowship with mature brothers and sisters, that’s 90% of what trusting God actually looks like.
Yes there may be more intensity in prayer, more tearful moments, and moments of despair, but through it all, as you seek to do what Proverbs 3:5-6 encourages you to do, God will give you what you need.
As you come to Him again and again, imperfectly, with child-like faith, and in weakness, He will be there to give you His grace in abundance.
In summary, trusting God involves intentional dependence upon His character, to work out His plans and purposes, according to His sovereignty, for His glory.
With this kind of dependence, we experience His rest and peace, and this strengthens us to continue another day in our race of faith.