Perhaps the most foundational element of any relationship is trust. No kinship can function properly without it. When trust is lacking, personal unions break down and we retreat into suspicion and defensiveness. Our society would falter if businesses and individuals didn’t extend basic trust to one another. A lack of trust in those who can help us can lead to ruin. I may die if I’m having a heart attack but refuse to call 9-1-1 because I distrust medical personnel.
This is one reason trust plays such a key role in the life of faith. If we fail to trust God, we lose our connection with the Source of ultimate truth, and hinder our relationship with the One who created us and loves us with infinite love.
Scripture has much to say about trusting God and having faith in God. These two terms have essentially the same meaning—to trust God is the same as having faith in God—so we’ll use them interchangeably as we explore what the Bible says about this vital issue.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Is God Faithful?—Reasons to Trust God When Hope Feels Lost: An Interview with Robert Morgan]
We should first address a common misconception about faith in God: that it’s a leap into the dark; also known as blind faith; or as Mark Twain wryly put it, “Believing what you know ain’t so.” Although this is how modern Western culture views religious faith (and even many Christians adopt this definition), nothing could be further from the truth.
A believer’s faith in God rests on a number of solid foundations, including
- God’s trustworthy character
- the authority of Scripture
- the evidence of God’s work in creation
- the testimony of millions of Christians whose lives have been changed, and
- the believer’s own experience of God’s work in his or her life
to name a few. Rather than a leap into the dark, trusting in God is a leap into the light! (If you’re interested in exploring reasons for faith further, subscribe to our free newsletter “Investigating Faith with Lee Strobel.”)
One of the great examples in Scripture of someone who trusted God is Abraham, who is sometimes called “the father of faith.” When Abraham was 75 years old, God called him to “go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). We can imagine how difficult it would be, especially at Abraham’s age, to leave behind everything he knew and travel to an unknown destination. Yet Abraham answered God’s call and became the father of the future nation of Israel, and an example of faith we can emulate. In this regard, theologian R. C. Sproul adds,
“The Christian life is about believing God. It is about living by every word that proceeds from his mouth (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4). It is about following him into places where we’ve never been, into situations that we’ve never experienced, into countries that we’ve never seen—because we know who he is.”
[R. C. Sproul, What Is Faith?, vol. 8, The Crucial Questions Series (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2010), 9.]
Like Abraham in the Promised Land, followers of Christ are also temporary residents in this world—passing through until we reach our true home in Heaven (Hebrews 11:9; Philippians 3:20). As we navigate our lives through parts unknown, we live by faith (trust) and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We’ll encounter many things we don’t understand. We won’t know why God is doing certain things or why he allows certain things to happen. We may become frustrated at the slow pace of our spiritual growth or we may not be able to discern God’s will or presence in challenging circumstances. But the book of Proverbs directs us to “trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Remember that God’s knowledge and wisdom are unlimited, and the things that God chooses to do in the world and in our lives won’t always (or even often) make sense to us. As the Lord told Isaiah, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). Author Jerry Bridges offers a helpful illustration of this principle:
“Suppose a prominent physicist is explaining some intricate nuclear equation to a seminar of his peers. He has it all written out on a whiteboard and is going through the equation. His peers can follow his logic, but a six-year-old couldn’t. The scientist could explain it over and over again, but the six-year-old simply doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to understand.
“This is the way we are in relation to God’s wisdom, only more so. The gap in understanding between the physicist and the six-year-old is huge. But it is still finite. But the gap between God’s ways of governing His universe and our ability to track His ways is an infinite gap.”
[Jerry Bridges, Growing Your Faith: How to Mature in Christ (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004), 146.]
While God has not promised to reveal to us why things happen, he’s promised to be with us through all of our circumstances and to give us peace. One of the last promises Jesus made to his disciples (which includes believers today) is “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). God also promises us, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
The Lord also affirms that he will grant us peace, even in the midst of trying circumstances. The apostle Paul exhorted, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
One biblical scholar defines the meaning of anxiety in this passage as “the futile, frustrating, debilitating attempt to bear the burdens of life and especially of the future, ourselves, alone.” Paul says the antidote to this kind of worry is prayer, along with thanksgiving for all the good that God has done for us. No concern is too big or too small to bring to God in prayer. “Cast all your anxiety on him,” writes Peter, “because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
[Maxie D. Dunnam and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Galatians / Ephesians / Philippians / Colossians / Philemon, vol. 31, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1982), 309.]
When we do this, we’ll experience a supernatural peace that “will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). The NIV Study Bible notes that Paul is using a “military concept depicting a sentry standing guard” over our inner lives. As a result, “God’s ‘protective custody’ of those who are in Christ Jesus extends to the core of their beings and to their deepest intentions.”
May we confidently trust God in every area of our lives and in all of our circumstances, because he’s good and faithful and will guard us with his presence and peace.
[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Angels in Heaven (Frequently Asked Questions) by Christopher Reese]
BIO: Christopher Reese (MDiv, ThM) (@clreese) is a freelance writer and editor-in-chief of The Worldview Bulletin. He is a general editor of the Dictionary of Christianity and Science (Zondervan, 2017) and Three Views on Christianity and Science (Zondervan, 2021). His articles have appeared in Christianity Today and he writes and edits for Christian ministries and publishers.
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