As a child, did an adult entrusted with your care violate that trust in harmful ways? As an adult, have you ever trusted someone and then been betrayed? I suspect most people could answer “Yes” to one or both questions. I know I’ve had my trust shattered several times in my life. People, no matter how good they seem or even how well-intentioned, aren’t always trustworthy, and such betrayals can cause us to doubt whether there’s anyone we can trust. That skepticism often carries over into lack of trust in God.
The scriptures recognize the dilemma. Jacob has a visionary dream in which God promises to protect him, bring him back to his land, and multiply his descendants, assuring Jacob that he will do all that he says. Jacob is understandably ecstatic about this dream, and he dedicates the spot where it happened. And yet, Jacob states that IF this happens and IF that happens and IF another thing happens, then (and presumably only then) the Lord shall be his God. That doesn’t sound like he trusted God much!
Contrast that with the Gospel story of the official who asked Jesus to lay his hands on his dead daughter so she could live. Think about how outrageous that request sounded to bystanders! But his trust in Jesus was so high that he risked looking like a fool, even when the crowds at his house ridiculed them as they arrived. The official persisted, and Jesus amazed them all by raising the girl. Can you imagine the joy the official felt?
On the journey to the official’s house, a hemorrhaging woman believed that she could merely touch Jesus’ cloak to be healed. Remember that in her day, a menstruating or bleeding woman was unclean. She was banned from public gatherings, and touching a man was utterly taboo. She risked being arrested, beaten, or worse. Her trust and courage were rewarded, and she could hold her head high for the first time in 12 years. What an affirmation!
I am slowly learning greater trust. I’ve come to see that people will let me down, but God never will. Oh, I may not get what I ask for, but I will receive strength, wisdom, courage, and all I need to handle whatever life throws at me. I have a rock on which I stand, an unfailing source of life and love that is available to me always. Sometimes it seems I have a long way to go. Other times, my trust in God helps me step more confidently into life, willing to take risks, knowing I will be caught when I fall and loved always.
Where do you land on the trust spectrum? Do you demand that God prove things to you first before you risk trusting? Are you willing to place your trust in God come what may, even if it seems foolish? Or are you somewhere in between? Despite how tempted we all are to imitate Jacob and go for certainty, perhaps we can pray and work to risk the kind of trust held by the official and the woman. That seems like a pretty solid bet, don’t you think?
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.