Trusting God: No longer a matter of what He has done but rather of who He is
The Bible is filled throughout with admonitions to trust the Lord. Trust is one of the most foundational blocks upon which our relationships are built. Trust brings a predictability to relationships and enables other essential motivations such as love, obedience, faithfulness, belief, long suffering, etc. It is through bona fide trust that relationships are built, reinforced and maintained. Without trust, relationships would degenerate to doubt, suspicion, and fear.
Trust just isn’t conjured up or pulled out of the air; it must have some basis to be real and meaningful. Under the old covenant, everything was of an outward nature. Their relationship with God was through the keeping of the law, following the prescribed rituals, keeping the feasts and maintaining the sacrifices. God’s presence was in the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. The tabernacle and temple were the special places where God’s presence was manifested in the Holy of Holies over the Ark of the Covenant.
From their miraculous deliverance out of Egypt and into their wilderness journey, the children of Israel were to mark for continual remembrance the intervening, sustaining and saving acts of God as leverage toward trusting Him in facing future trials. Remembering God’s miraculous works on their behalf was so imperative they were instructed to pass them on for generations to come. The remembrance of God’s mighty deeds were meant to fortify them in times of trial and tribulation enabling them to put their trust in the Lord that He would see them through even as He had done so many times before:
Give ear, O my people, to my instruction;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter things hidden from the beginning,
that we have heard and know
and our fathers have relayed to us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but will declare to the next generation
the praises of the LORD and His might,
and the wonders He has performed.
For He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which He commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the coming generation would know them—
even children yet to be born—
to arise and tell their own children
that they should put their confidence in God,
not forgetting His works,
but keeping His commandments.
Ps 78:1-7 KJV
However, Israel over and over again through their wilderness pilgrimage sadly neglected this essential counsel for their well-being and subsequently suffered dire consequences for that neglect as seen reflected in Psalm 106:
They soon forgot his many acts of kindness to them…Yet how quickly they forgot what he had done…They forgot God, their savior, who had done such great things in Egypt…Our ancestors in Egypt were not impressed by the LORD’s miraculous deeds. They soon forgot his many acts of kindness to them.
Without the remembrance of God’s mighty deeds in their minds and hearts, the children of Israel were unable to maintain a trusting relationship with the Lord and fell into idolatry and disobedience.
As we come into the New Testament and into a new covenant with God through the Lord Jesus, there is a dramatic change of emphasis in how we learn to trust the Lord. With the coming of Jesus, we shift from an outward to an inward reality in our life with God. Prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Jews are still relating to God through outward manifestations. Therefore, we see passages in the Word that tell us how they believed in Jesus based on seeing the miracles he performed. However, once Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended to the Father we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and a whole new reality in our relationship and walk with God.
Now, as with Israel of old, we too are on a pilgrimage. Once we have committed to follow Christ, we have stepped onto the path which leads to complete maturation in him. We are on a journey unto completion in him. This journey is going to be fraught with challenges, pitfalls, disappointments and failures of varying degrees.
Although we, like Israel, will remember and honor the mighty deeds of God experienced in our lives, we will have to take it a notch further in our desire to fully trust in the lord our God. This is where we now discover our highest confidence, our greatest reliance our deepest trust in God based first, not on what he has done, but primarily on who he is. Our trust is now based in the character of God himself, his very nature. Like Jesus before us, we must come to hear the voice of the Father to our hearts, “You are my beloved son/daughter, I am well-pleased with you.”
There is a very significant reason why this new and higher basis of trust must be embraced. In our pilgrimage unto completion in Christ, we are going to be tempted to doubt God because of some of the things transpiring in our lives which are very painful to endure. If our trust is only on the basis of remembering the mighty deeds of God, we could easily be tempted to wonder why he isn’t coming through for us as in times past. We have to remember that Jesus didn’t die just to keep us out of hell or simply give us entry to heaven. He died that we might grow up into the full stature of his very life. He died to share the fullness of his inheritance from the Father with us.
This means that our heavenly Father is going to allow whatever experiences, trials and tribulations are necessary in order to allow this to come to pass. Scripture tells us that God chastens those whom he loves and that his chastisement is proof of our sonship with God. Our hope, our confidence and our deepest trust is in the very essence of a supreme, creator God whose love for us began in eternity past where he planned and purposed our lives in Christ.
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (Eph 1:4,5 NLT)
I have many wonderful examples of God’s gracious breaking into my life in incredibly redemptive ways to protect, rescue, bless, and adjust as well as to chasten and correct. All of it has been for my eternal well-being. All of that notwithstanding, my confidence and trust has principally been founded in who he is. He is the one who knew me from eternity past, who loved me and called me, who chose to adopt me into his glorious family and all of whose actions toward me are governed by his eternal intent to grow me up into the fullness of his beloved son. Therefore, my personal definition of trusting God is thus:
My absolute confidence and belief that God will never allow anything to touch my life except that which is for my eternal good.