It is easy to tell someone in a tough situation to "trust God." But how can I keep these words from becoming a trite pat on the back? Can you describe what that looks like? Can you tell someone "how" to trust God in a given situation? Let's take a moment and explore what God says trusting Him looks like, and what He says will happen if you trust Him. Allowing God to tell you what "trusting in Him" looks like will both encourage and challenge you.
Famous verses for trusting God include Proverbs 3:5-6:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (Pro 3:5-6 NAU)
But, if you are an obtuse brick like me, you might need some more specifics. So take a moment to read all of Proverbs three.
In Proverbs 3, there are several “do not…” statements. In the struggle to trust, I need guideposts and guardrails. Guideposts point me in the right direction. Guardrails keep me from wandering off the path. By looking at these “do not…” statements, these guardrails, we will see what walking in the path of trusting in God looks like and they will become guideposts to follow.
1.) Don’t forget God’s teaching (Prov. 3:1, 21).
Read your Bible. We forget God because we don’t read the Bible. The Bible is what God chose to communicate his truth to you. “It is the flashlight by which you can explore any field.” It is God’s yard stick. Faith fails because we forget God and forget who we are. Faith fails when you live by your own ideas instead of by God’s. Trusting God can be difficult when we are at a loss, confused or uncertain. The Bible is full of God’s knowledge for your life. Keep reading it, and you will have what you need for those difficult times—they won’t seem so difficult when you know what to do and whom to trust.
2.) Don’t let love and truth leave you (Prov. 3:3).
Trusting God requires being faithful but not forceful. The word “love” used in this verse is the same word God uses to describe his love for you. It is loyal, and does not give up. At the same time, it is kind and compassionate. Trusting God with people can be difficult. Sometimes the truth must be spoken, but it can be rendered useless without kindness and love.
3.) Don’t depend on you (Prov. 3:5, 7).
Faith fails because I think I can handle it. Faith in self is the beginning of many troubles. There is only one God, and turning to him in EVERY situation is vital. God is in the business of making crooked paths straight. Verse six says to “know” him in all your ways. One translation says “think” about him in all your ways, while another says “submit”. Peter did not walk on water because he focused on himself. The storm did not refine him or give him power. It distracted him. Only Jesus saves and empowers.
4.) Don’t reject God’s discipline and training (v.11).
Trusting God involves a new way of seeing every event in life. We understand that nothing is out of God’s control. We also understand that a loving parent trains his or her kids. It is the same with God. You understand that every difficulty is used by God for your good. God might be growing your faith, training your ability, or he may be confronting a sin in your life.
5.) Don’t fear when bad things suddenly happen (v.25).
Trusting in God, learning from the Bible, and understanding that God is in control for your good, teaches us not to be surprised when bad things happen. You are able to explain why evil exists in the world, that it is the result of sin and rebellion. When evil does happen, your knowledge and understanding of God become a foundation that keeps you from being shaken. You understand why the Bible calls God your Rock, your Strong Tower, your Refuge and Shelter.
6.) Don’t withhold good from whom it is due, when you are able (Prov. 3:27-28).
Trusting God might involve giving what you have to others. It might involve doing something for others. God doesn’t ask the impossible, but that you believe he can do the impossible. Difficult times tempt us to hold onto what we have a little tighter, but God challenges our grip on this world. Eyes of faith see possessions and abilities as being God’s. He gives to you so you might give to others. We trust in God, not in stuff or in our abilities. Are you willing to give?
7.) Don’t be envious of others (Prov. 3:29-30, 31).
Seek to be content with what God has given you. When you find yourself looking at your neighbor’s stuff or situation in life, you may be tempted to feel sorry for yourself. The next temptation will be to chase after stuff God has not given you. Your heart may be filled with jealous resentment against your neighbor. It only gets worse. Trusting in God in hard times requires being on guard against envy. Take some time to remember what God has done for you, and then thank Him for it. It is so easy to forget!
We need guardrails and guardposts in this walk of faith. When you are told to “trust God” in any given situation, remember that it is not just a trite statement. It is your life. And when you have the opportunity to encourage someone else to “trust God,” communicate this truth in a loving way. Spend some time and listen, and then gently point him or her to the One who loves us so much, at all times, and in all circumstances.