One of the earliest Sunday school songs I remember singing is, “Trust and Obey”. As I’m sure many of you remember, the words are: trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey. I remember singing those words with all my heart, believing them in every fibre of my being.
Somehow though, as life went on and problems and challenges got bigger and bigger, it became harder and harder to abandon myself to the absolute truth of those simple but profound lyrics, at least without nagging thoughts darting through my mind as I did. Thoughts like, Yes, but what if God doesn’t heal my friend who is going through cancer? Or can I really trust that God will work for good the implosion of the marriage of good friends, both believers? Or what if God doesn’t provide what I need in this circumstance the way I am trying to trust that he will? Can I still be happy in Jesus, resting in the fact that God’s ways are better than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts? Can I fully trust in the fact that, given His all-knowing, loving, merciful, infinite perspective, He can and will do what is best for my good and His glory, even if that does not look anything like what I am hoping and praying for?
Unfortunately, complete trust is easier said than done when in the midst of a daunting situation in life. At the moment, my family is going through a relatively minor crisis, compared to what so many people I know are going through. It is a crisis of a financial nature, and every day, on my knees, I cry out to Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides, for provision for a specific situation. I ask Him to help me to stop worrying. Worry, after all, indicates a lack of trust, doesn’t it? And I want to trust, but it’s tough. I feel like the father of the sick boy who, in Mark 9:24, says to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” In fact, my prayers sound a lot like that these days: “I do trust. Help me with my lack of trust!”
Somehow we go from “trust and obey, for there’s no other way”, to singing the hymn, as adults, “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er; Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!” An admission that, although yes, it is so sweet to trust in Jesus, and yes, He has proved his faithfulness over and over, we still need His grace in order to trust him more.
Maybe another key is the obedience part. What does God command me to do in His Word? Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him…” And, as so often with our covenant God, the command comes with a promise: “And he will make your paths straight”. When I don’t trust, but take matters into my own hands and strive and scrabble and attempt to solve the problem on my own, something I am very prone to do, the last thing it feels like is that my paths are straight. In fact, the more I struggle, the more convoluted, crooked, and winding the path beneath my feet feels.
The psalmist exhorts us to “Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord” (Psalm 4:5). Trust then, is not just an act of obedience, it is a sacrifice I can make to God, in acknowledgement of his goodness, power, and sovereignty over, not just my circumstances or my life, but over all things.
The prophet Isaiah issues another command, to “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” An eternal rock. That sounds like something I can put my trust in, something that cannot be shaken, that will exist forever, that will not be moved. If fact, if I cannot put my trust in a God who is sovereign, powerful, loving, merciful and as steadfast and immovable as an eternal rock, what can I put my trust in?
In my book, The Morning Star Rises, my main character Jesse says, “I used to be sure of so many things in life.” When Hope, another character, says, “And now?” he responds, “Now I only know two things to be absolutely true: God is still on his throne. And he has not abandoned us.”
I put that in my novel because I believe it. Even now, in the midst of a crisis that may not seem huge, relatively speaking, but that is affecting me and my family deeply, I believe those words to be true. God is on His throne, He has not abandoned us, and after I obey and do whatever I am led to do to contribute to the solution, I can, with His help and in His strength, trust in Him to provide, however and whenever He deems best. In fact, those words I sang as a child are just as true today, there really is no other way.
Lord, help me to trust.
Press on, my friends.