What does trusting God feel like? Have you ever asked that question? Have you ever asked, “How on earth can I trust in the Lord through this?” It seems like the typical answers people like give all involve treading meadow paths and lighting candles, tiptoeing by streams and exploring valleys. But what if you’re like me: sitting breathelessly on your couch in between laundry baskets? Driving your lurching family van in errand-orbits around town? Staring out your front window at pavement, weeds, and fences? And on top of this, there are the worries of life pressing into your mind. Where are the candles? Where are those darned streams when we need them?
In light of this, it may be easier to start with the opposite of trust, and work our way back.
What trust does NOT feel like:
- Panic. Google’s definition is: “Sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.” Does this line up with my “problem-solving-skills” for hungry children at lunch? You bet. I have to talk myself down from a fast-food run daily. It’s wildly unthinking behavior. It just wants to throw money at the problem: money that’s not in the budget. Without trusting myself to be a grown-up, and without trusting God to teach me to steward our food, money, and schedule well, I totally panic.
- Worry. The best harbingers of this are villainous details. The enemy loves to use these little pesky things against us. So goes the saying, “The devil’s in the details.” I know people who trust God completely with their overarching provision. At least, that’s what they say. But in the next breath they worry over the price of toilet paper, and gas at the pump – complaining about the unreasonable rate of inflation in this country, and how everything is too expensive. These worries dog-pile up, until suddenly all they can see is this ugly tangled mess much too close to focus on anything.
- Complaining. This is entirely focused on the current circumstances. It never can be quenched. It never is satisfied. It cannot be placated, threatened, cajoled, or pleased into contentment. It flies under the radar of what may be “socially acceptable,” and as such, it may be allowed to linger for years. But it robs our trust in God because things “aren’t ever quite to our liking.” Focusing entirely on what we don’t like leaves zero room for anything good to ever happen to us. Much less finding God’s good plan in the middle of our crummy circumstances.
“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
What trust may feel like:
- Crazy. At least, to my own understanding. Because trust is only necessary when there are so many unknowns. But then again, my own understanding usually suggests worry and panic as the most logical choices – which don’t serve me very well. So I have good reason to call my understanding into question…
- Peace. An out-of-context peace. A rest emanating from a deep place that is out of touch with the catastrophes at hand. Trust focuses on our good Lord – who He is – regardless of the dire nature of my situation.
- Confidence. It is an act of relying on the Lord. Like I rely on a log-bridge felled across a ditch. I test it to see if it will hold me. Just so, I put weight on Him. I stand on him with both feet. And even give a little jump to make sure He won’t roll me off. He never does.
- Strength. A product from certainty of the Lord’s ultimate power. I know who wins. I read the end of the Bible. He is a mighty God who equips me to live this life for Him, and to live it well: tapping into His power to obey His commands.
In the stress of daily life, I don’t see many streams. Or valleys. I’m more accustomed to morning traffic than footpaths. So well-intentioned advice to “trust the Lord to lead you by streams of water” leaves me feeling a bit like I’m in the wrong story setting. It’s more like I’m led by sinks of soaking dinner dishes. Not quite as refreshing.
But I do have a barometer for my trust level of God: the state of my heart. The things I’m focusing on determine how I’m feeling. So it’s good to notice the worry, and trace it back to an unspoken suspicion that God really doesn’t care this time. Or, on the flipside, it’s good to notice that I’m feeling strangely peaceful, oddly strong, and just a little bit crazy, and thank God for His mercy that I am, in fact, trusting Him in this circumstance too.