I have a problem. A big problem. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say you probably have it, too. Most people I’ve met in my life have the same problem. I think it’s a pretty common problem. The Israelites certainly struggled with it. The disciples obviously had it (at least for a time). It’s a one-word problem, but it’s huge. It’s trust.
And the interesting thing is this: we don’t start out with it. My kids didn’t have trust issues when they were young. They expected their mom and I to take care of them. Really simple: they cry, we deliver. It’s only when they get to the age where things don’t always work out like they want them to that trust begins to be an issue. It’s only when they expect something to happen and it doesn’t that they start to doubt.
Now, granted, there are horrible things that have happened in many lives that destroy our trust. Sin is real, and evil is real, and we have all been touched by it in one form or another. But I submit to you that even those of us who have never come close to experiencing the depths of evil develop huge trust issues. Why?
I think if we’re honest we’ll admit it’s because things don’t always work out the way we want them to.
I know that’s the case with me. It’s not hard to have faith when everything is going good, but far too often I go into Pablo mode (that’s for all you parents of Backyardigans watchers out there) and freak out. It’s not all the time, but it’s enough that I know it’s an issue.
I had a “flare up” of this last week, and it lingered with me for several days. But then I did what I should have done in the first place: I gave it to the Lord. I opened up my Bible to Psalm 42 and read these words:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” (Ps. 42:5)
I needed to hear that. And just to make sure I got the point, as I turned to a fresh page in my journal and I read:
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for You, O God. I thirst for God, the living God.”
Recognize that? It’s from the same Psalm. Yeah. I think the Lord was trying to tell me something. Psalm 42 is a really great example of what we all tend to do when times get crazy. We start looking at our circumstances and at everything that is “falling apart” around us instead of looking to the One Who holds everything together (Colossians 1:17).
The psalmist goes through a cycle of “the sky is falling” into “keep your eyes on the Lord” twice in this psalm. That’s encouraging to me. That reassures me that I’m not alone in this, that I’m not “the only one.” It’s easy to feel that way, isn’t it?
And there’s another issue, a deeper one that we don’t like to talk about. Behind our propensity to lose it when things don’t go our way, there’s an underlying lack of faith that God is Who He said He is. We’re quick to think that, if we could only SEE God, if we could SEE Him visibly do something, if He’d just work a miracle on our behalf, we’d trust Him.
Look at the Israelites in Exodus. On the doorstep of the Promised Land, they turn back out of fear of the future, of the unknown. They didn’t trust that God would show up again and deliver them like He had from Egypt. They SAW God part the Red Sea and destroy the strongest army in the world, yet they didn’t think He could conquer some giants in the land. What makes us think we’re any different?
But there’s a reason that stories like the Exodus, and the repeated failings of the Israelites to trust God throughout the OT, are in the Bible. It’s to remind us that we’re no different. It’s to keep us from thinking too highly of ourselves. They’re there to help us…well…trust!
Because God never changes. If He was faithful to His promises then, He’s still faithful to them today. Just look at Israel! By human reckoning, there shouldn’t even BE an Israel! Yet there she is, thriving in the midst of her enemies! Why? Because even when we’re faith-less, God is faithful.