Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Prov. 3:5)
Trusting God is something that Christians talk about a lot, and yet we tend to view it as optional. There are times when we trust God and times when we don’t, and we think that this is okay. But distrust is more serious than that; it positions us to trust in other things (see Ps. 20:7)—none of which deserve our trust. Distrust in God also makes us much more anxious. Like a ship in a storm without an anchor, we have a hard time weathering treacherous circumstances, because we’re not centering our lives on Christ.
A better understanding of trust will help us here. Proverbs 3:5 points us to a robust biblical trust that helps us to fight our fears.
Trust is external (“in the Lord”). By calling it external, I mean that the foundation of trust is not inside us. Biblical trust is based on something—Someone—outside ourselves. Trusting God is not psyching ourselves up to believe the impossible. It involves resting on God’s character. The only proper object of trust is God himself. Jeremiah explains, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord” (Jer. 17:7). In contrast, there are innumerable objects of faith that are unworthy. These include, for example, man’s strength (see Ps. 33:16–17), government leaders (see Ps. 146:3), wisdom and riches (see Jer. 9:23), and our own hearts (see Prov. 28:26). Who or what are you trusting in?
Trust is entire (“with all your heart”). According to Scripture, the heart includes the mind, emotions, and will. For that reason, biblical faith is the entrusting of our total being to God in submission to his Word. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). God promises blessing to those whose hearts’ desire is to love him: “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart” (Ps. 119:2). Have you given your whole life to the Lord?
Trust is exclusive (“do not lean on your own understanding”). It’s natural for us to depend on our own reasoning and then act on it. However, great danger accompanies the trusting of self, as Hosea warns: “You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, in your numerous warriors” (Hos. 10:13 NASB). In God alone should we trust. Are you trusting in yourself or in the Lord?
Your fears can keep you from trusting God. “God won’t care for me.” “I’ll never be married.” “I won’t survive the cancer.” “I won’t make enough to provide or to get us out of debt.” Your worries roll around in your heart and mind, telling you to trust in yourself and in “your own understanding,” because God must not be enough.
But the Lord himself beckons you: “Trust in me. Let me be your refuge and strength—your very present help in times of trouble” (see Ps. 46:1). Rather than letting your fears run rampant, commit to trusting the Lord today with your whole life.
- Reflect: What fears keep you from trusting God? When you are anxious, what does your heart desire more than God?
- Reflect: In what ways do you tend to lean on your own understanding?
- Act: Find a mature Christian and ask him or her, “How have you grown in your trust of the Lord?”
*This post is an excerpt from the 31-day devotional, Anxiety: Knowing God’s Peace.
[It was originally posted here, in unedited form, on January 13, 2014.]