How do we maintain trust in God in the midst of the uncertainties and trials of life?
Trust has to do with things that are foundational. For example, when we sit down on a chair we usually trust that it is strong and trustworthy. We have enough confidence in this that we don't even have to think about it.
Yet people's trust in natural things can be shaken. You hear about people who never had any fear of driving a car. They were confident but then they had a car accident and were injured. Their trust is shattered and they never drive again. They are no longer confident that driving is safe. Their belief in the uncertainty and danger is stronger than their belief that most of the time driving will be safe.
A similar thing can happen in our spiritual life sometimes. When life is painful and you are bombarded with trials and challenges one after the other and they seem to be unrelenting, it is easy to start believing more in your hardship than in the hope of the gospel.
Particularly if there are specific things that you have trusted God about that He seems to have let you down in, it is tempting to let disappointment set in and become your default belief foundation.
You start to trust in God less and become hardened. You find yourself praying a lot less than you used to and when you do, your prayers are dry and faithless. It feels like you are going through the motions rather than praying with genuine belief that God hears and will answer your prayers.
The challenge of trust
Trusting God seems to be such a difficult thing to do sometimes. Most of us sooner or later experience significant challenges to our faith. We have doubts and wonder if God really cares about us.
Sometimes we wrestle with theological challenges and uncertainty about things that we once believed confidently but now we are not so sure about.
I like to learn about different ideas about the world and life. If I am not careful I can find different ideas or beliefs compelling and they can significantly influence my foundational beliefs about the world and even faith. These ideas may have a lot of truth to them but I can get caught up making them a core part of my foundation rather than simply a truth about the world that must be looked at through the lens of Christian faith.
We need to build our life on the rock, not on the sand. Sometimes our thoughts can be so overwhelming and crazy that it is almost impossible to process them in a balanced and clear way. Our belief in the negative thoughts becomes so strong it is very difficult for us not to be emotionally swayed by them and to be overcome by doubt and fear.
Like Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus, if we look at the waves we will sink. But by focusing on Jesus, our rock, we are able to walk on water, to walk by faith. (see Matthew chapter 14 verses 22 – 33)
Some tips for success
Here are some of the things I think can help to maintain and renew our trust and strengthen the foundations of our lives:
1. Remember the good things that God has done in the past.
2. Spend time in regular fellowship with other believers.
3. Practice being present or mindful. Over-thinking can get in the way of trust. Developing greater trust in God is not something that can necessarily be worked up through 'striving'. Sometimes trust is just being still and not trying to figure everything out.
4. Prayer ministry. Often the deeper healing work of the Holy Spirit comes after we have allowed someone to pray for us.
5. Silence and solitude. Sometimes we need to get away and have some time to reflect and hear God's voice again. If we haven't clearly heard God's voice speaking into our lives for a while it is easy to just go through the motions. God can just become a distant religious idea rather than a dynamic and powerful Person.
And it is through our relationship with Him that our daily lives and actions are influenced. Our trust will grow as we maintain that relationship.
Conor is from Adelaide South Australia. He gardens and mows lawns for a living and is involved in several ministries. He loves God, music, reading and thinking deeply about philosophy and current events in the world.
Conor Ryan’s previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/conor-ryan.html