Girl holding lamp. What trusting God IS and what it ISN'T.

Your head probably says that trusting God is a good idea. But trust is not only a decision, though it is that. Trust also involves the subjective part of your mind, your feelings and memories and expectations. It’s been said that trust is a positive expectation of the future. So what does trusting God look like?

We know that God is above all. He’s stronger, wiser, infinitely loving. And He is for you every time you come to Him. It’s also clear from Scripture that not all circumstances in life work out as we–or as God–would like them to. He has given us free will, and He does not override our choices. He doesn’t override others’ choices. And the kingdom of darkness is real. There are times it’s challenging to understand what’s going on here.

But beyond all that, the consistent witness of Scripture and of those who have followed God is that He can be trusted. If you don’t feel right now like He’s very trustworthy, it will help to understand more of what it looks like to trust God, or not.

What Trusting God Is NOT

Expecting God to do what we want. God’s too big for that. He’s not a heavenly genie; put in the right prayer, get out a blessing. This is not about a transaction; it’s about a relationship. If you are looking to God as your heavenly vending machine you will often be confused and disappointed.

Demanding God answer your questions. Throughout Scripture God’s very best friends brought their hardest questions to Him. They asked Him Why? They expressed anger, frustration, or hurt. God hears! And He reserves for Himself the time and way in which He responds. I’ve discovered that often He responds in a way and at a time I least expected.

Doing nothing. Some people say they’re trusting God when all they’re doing is sitting back waiting for God to do something. Trusting God is active, not passive. This “deferring style” where you sit back and do nothing is not consistent with Scripture, and it does not lead to mental, physical, or spiritual wellbeing.

Trying to do it yourself. Stressing about making it happen, of course, is not trusting God. Neither is rushing ahead of God and expecting Him to pick up the pieces when you mess up. You are not the one in charge. The universe does not revolve around you. You are to follow Jesus; He does not follow you. News flash; you’re not God. That job is already taken.

What Trusting God IS

Relying on Who God Is. The more you know someone, the more accurate expectation you have of what they will do in the future. When things are difficult or confusing you can go back to what you know about Who God is. That’s things like God cannot lie, He is love, He will never leave you. Your feelings may struggle, but you know Who He is.

Being clear on what God has promised. Whole Bible studies can profitably be built around God’s “precious and very great promises” (2 Peter 1:4). But we get in trouble when we extrapolate His promises in ways He has not intended. It’s also helpful to examine how followers of God have interpreted His promises throughout the centuries. For example, followers of Jesus can expect both suffering and breakthrough.

Taking action. Trusting God means cooperating with Him. God works, and we work (see Philippians 2:12-13). You are following Him. You’re not in charge, but neither are you holding back. When He says something, you believe Him. When He tells you to do something, you do it. And when you feel anxious, you bring it to Him. This “collaborative style” brings the best physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.

Keeping your eyes on eternity. Today is not as good as it gets. Jesus had to keep His eyes on His end in order to make it through the cross (Hebrews 12:2). You and I will have to keep our eyes on our future in order to make it too. God will not stop until everything, everything, is made right. Some things are made right quickly; some things will be made right in eternity.

Your life right now matters. It’s important. God cares about your life right now. But this is not the end of the story. This life only makes sense by keeping the end of the story in mind. And we know the end of the story. Spoiler alert; Jesus wins!

And you win too if you plant yourself on His side.

Growing in Trusting God

So, are you really trusting God? Don’t answer that based only on the logical things your mind agrees to. Look at your behavior. Pay attention to your emotional response when something becomes hard. You might realize you don’t really trust God as much as you thought you did.

What do you do if you realize you don’t really trust God? Can you grow in your trust of Him?

Yes, you can! Here are a few ways to do that.

Remember. What have you experienced of God in the past? When have you heard His voice? What has He brought you through? Nurture the memories of how God has been present for you. Write them in a journal and review them. (Lamentations 3:21-23)

Borrow some trust. At particularly difficult times you need to hang around other people who know what it’s like to trust God. Sometimes you need to borrow a bit of their faith for a while. That doesn’t mean you are “off the hook” in your own relationship with God, but God designed us to be connected in part for this reason. That’s why, I believe, we have Hebrews 11.

Keep talking to Him. What you do with your hard questions is bring them to God. He will not get mad at you or turn away. He is like a good Father, letting you beat your fists on His chest while He holds you close.

Get quiet. God almost never adds His voice over a bunch of noise–in your world or in your head. It’s when you become still that you can hear His voice. Studiously nurture moments of silence–1 minute, 2 minutes, 10 minutes where you let your body and your mind become still and open your soul for whatever he wants to say.

May you know the rest that comes in trusting God.

Your Turn: When you reflect on your own heart and your own behavior, how well do you believe you’re trusting God? Has this article broadened your understanding of trusting God? Leave a comment below.

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