I was asked an important question. “Can you tell me how I can trust God more? Is there a book that would be helpful?”
Psalm 9:9-11 tells us: “ The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Sing praises to the Lord who reigns in Jerusalem. Tell the world about his unforgettable deeds” (NLT).
What is trust?
To trust someone means that we feel we can depend on their competence and character. We have to believe they can help do good, and that they are good. To trust God does not mean to depend on God to keep any hurtful or difficult things from coming into our lives. If that was the case, only a very select few would be able to trust God since most of us suffer both painful circumstances and abuse in our relationships with others.
What it really means to trust in God is that in the midst of difficult circumstances, the Lord will be able to use all of our pain for gain. None of our suffering will be for naught. We need to trust that the Lord has a plan and purpose in our lives and does hear our prayers. To some of our prayers God says yes, to others God tells us to wait, and in some cases God says no to our requests for personal peace and prosperity. Trust depends on God to be good and full of grace with us in our times of grief while working to bring us gain out of our pain.
Make a list
What is there in the Bible that inspires us to trust God? It would be good to make a list of everything we know from the Bible that touches us at an emotional level and helps us to trust the Lord.
Read inspirational stories
Another way is to read inspirational stories of people who have seen God work in their lives. Biographies of great Christians like Against the Tide which tells the story of Pastor Watchmen Nee who planted 400 churches in China and then was arrested by the communists. By reading stories and listening to the testimonies of other Christians, this can help us trust in God. Trust is the fruit of the stories we tell ourselves about God and His faithfulness.
There may also be a group of Christian hymns or praise songs that touch our hearts and create in us a spirit of trust. Music is a powerful tool in developing the attitude of faith. Trust can lead us to praise, or praise can lead us to trust.
Trust can also be developed by journaling a “God sighting journal” in which we remember everything God has done for us in our lives. This would be a record of our encounters with God and the times the LORD answered our prayers. It is when we gain insight into how God used even difficult events to bring something good to our lives. Telling ourselves our own life story from a faith perspective will help us grow in trust of God.
We may also have to face events that we have not processed well. These events may have left us doubting or wavering in our faith. It would be important to strive to process these perhaps with the help of a spiritual director or pastor who could help us gain fresh perspective. What motivates our lack of trust? How could we weaken those factors that encourage our doubts? Trust in God is not 100% for any of us yet. Our trust in the Lord goes up and down depending on the day.
But we can realistically strive to grow in our trust in the Lord by reminding ourselves of the many ways that He has demonstrated competence and character. By writing and re-reading this story of God’s competence and character over and over, we will encourage trust in our hearts. This could even be put into a written legacy of God’s faithfulness in our lives for generations who follow us or just as a powerful, private trust-building tool throughout our own lives.
I recommend reading the Psalms, Job, and A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis for books that can help us grow in our trust in God’s character and competence. I also recommend The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis since many times our lack of trust in God is really because we have not processed the problem of pain and evil deeply enough.
Dr. Wise is the executive director of Living Water Christian Counseling, senior pastor of First Church West and host of Ask the Counselor Tuesdays at noon and 10 p.m. on GraceNetRadio.com. Living Water Christian Counseling can be reached at 954-452-4407.