The Bible talks a lot about trust. Trusting others, being trustworthy, trusting God. It talks about faith a lot too. They are not exactly the same thing. I don’t plan to argue the finer points of how faith and trust are different; suffice it to say that they are. Think of it this way; faith is something we have, and trust is something we do.
Do you have faith in God? The Bible says that we only need faith the size of a mustard seed for God to work with, and mustard seeds are pretty small. Sometimes I have more faith than at other times, but for the most part I think my faith is bigger than a mustard seed.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with trust. Trusting others and trusting God. In part, our ability to trust begins at birth. The experiences that we have throughout life add to our ability or inability to trust. In the end, trusting God is a choice, however.
Sometimes the whole faith and trust thing is misused by people in the church. Our relationship with God is a journey, and everyone is at a different place in their journey. Faith and trust need to be developed, and God allows circumstances and situations in our lives to hone and refine faith and trust.
My first experience as an adult in a church was in a “faith based” church. Apparently not all churches are “faith based” as it turns out! It was encouraged and expected that everyone would have the kind of faith that would move mountains, but in reality not all people do. It’s a journey thing. Getting the “opportunity” – their word, not mine – to put my faith into action proved difficult at best, and the response I got when I reached out was, “you don’t have enough faith!” I interpreted that to mean I had failed.
Ever had to trust God for something really big; something beyond your control? For me, at least, it can feel so uncertain, dark almost, my footing unstable. It’s not that I don’t think God is capable, or even willing to meet my need; it’s just that I sometimes let the circumstance overwhelm me. My focus is wrong. I tend to see the circumstances separate from my faith.
Having to trust God gives us the “opportunity” to exercise our faith. That sounds so spiritual!! Oh Lord, I’m using that word now! But seriously, if we didn’t have those times in our lives when the chips were down, medicine didn’t have answers for our health problems, or our lives seemed to be crumbling in front of our eyes, there would be no need to learn trust; to experience God’s power. Faith basically hangs out with us until trust needs to be kicked into high gear, but when we need to trust, our faith needs to be sure. We can’t just give lip service to faith and trust. We need to know exactly what we believe and Who is in control of the circumstances.
Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my foot and light on my path” (The Complete Jewish Bible). Faith is the lamp and the light it casts ahead of us. Ever been camping and had to find the bathhouse in the middle of the night in the pitch dark? We grab the flashlight, right? When we turn the flashlight on it casts a beam only a few inches in front of our feet; everything else remains hidden in the dark. We don’t know that there isn’t a bear lurking in the shadows just beyond the beam, do we? And yet we trust that the beam of light will illuminate the path in front of us so that we get to the bathhouse safely. Faith and trust at work.
God’s handle on our troubling circumstances is so much more sure than the flashlight we depend upon to lead us safely along a dark path. That’s a crazy thought, but in our defense the flashlight is a tangible object, something we can get a grip on. God, not so much. But the cool thing I have learned about God is that He uses the tangible things in our lives to teach us about Himself.
When troubling circumstances occur and we are overwhelmed by the seeming darkness threatening to overtake us, we need only to turn on our spiritual flashlight and illuminate the path. And the lesson in the beam of light is that it illuminates the few feet just in front of us; not the whole path. We don’t need the whole path lit. We need just enough light so that we don’t stumble or trip. In God’s perfect time the result of our trust will be revealed.
Faith and trust are not meant to be easy. They are meant to move us closer to God, to strengthen our relationship and dependence on Him, and to move us outside of ourselves. Do I still struggle? Yes, I do. Quite truthfully I believe everyone struggles to one degree or another, and that’s perfectly ok. We are all on a journey……