In 1882, William J. Kirkpatrick and Louisa M.R. Stead penned the classic words, “‘Tis so sweet to Trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word; Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know, ‘Thus says the Lord!'”
This was a timeless hymn, titled “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” If only trust was an easy thing. It is definitely sweet, and we can definitely rest, but sometimes our circumstances shape our trust.
Trust is a funny thing. Our expectations are fickle, depending on the source of our trust. The word trust is a broken word today. Our trust is shaped by our experiences, by those we are close to, and by instances on which our trust is broken. To trust a human is difficult, but to trust God is something that is learned. We live in a sinful, fallen, and broken world, and we are usually quicker to blame God than to trust Him.
How do we trust God in hard times? What do we do to develop that trust?
To develop trust in anyone, we must know them. The same rings true with God. Jen Wilkin says in her book, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know” (Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both our Hearts and Our Minds).
I can venture to say the heart cannot trust who the mind does not know. If we are going to love God, and if we are going to trust Him, it is essential we spend time in His word. I’m not talking about our daily dose of devotional, laced with coffee cup verses. We must make time to study His word.
I would venture to say twice a week, at the least, we should be studying God’s word whole heartedly. Biblical literacy is essential to learning to trust God. When we read stories of the Old Testament, we see God’s faithfulness. When we see the humanity of Biblical characters—real people like us—we see their struggle and that God was there. We see God’s mercy—we see His love, we see His grace, and we learn to trust Him.
We must be proactive in our faith. Life is going to happen to us, and there are going to be difficult seasons. Throughout our lifetime, there will be unwanted phone calls and skinned knees. There will be losses, and there will be suffering. We will have struggles, and we will have pain; there will be times when we will want to say, “Where is God?” Reactionary faith will bring those questions to our minds, yet proactive faith will say, “But God.”
When our faith tank is full, we are prepped and ready. It doesn’t make our seasons less difficult, but we know who we can turn to in those difficult times.
We can learn to trust God by memorizing Scripture. This goes hand in hand on the previous things I have discussed; however, it is so important. Psalm 119 is a great place to spend time, learning why we memorize Scripture. We hide the Word in our heart so we may not sin (Psalm 119:11).
We learn in the book of Jeremiah that the person who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence in deed is the Lord, is blessed. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when the heat comes, and it is foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit (Jeremiah 17:8-9).
Where are you when the heat comes? Is your trust in God or in circumstance?
The final way we learn to trust God in the difficult times is to just do it. We have to not rely on our feelings or even fact. God is a big God and can do anything, however, we have to let go, and we have to continue to trust regardless of what we may be feeling or what the world around us looks like.
A year ago, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. If I can be honest, I was living a life or more of a reactionary faith than a proactive one. God used this horrible time in our lives to teach us to draw near to Him.
We were scared, and we weren’t prepared to deal with what was ahead. We were blessed that surgery took care of the problem at hand. It wasn’t until 6 months later I learned what proactive faith was. My mother called me, and though his numbers had been perfect 3 months ago, for some reason they had almost doubled. Doctors were concerned, and we had to wait.
I remember in the waiting season, just turning to God and being in the Word. My worry turned to tear-stained worship. I stood on the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they told Nebuchadnezzar, “Even If” (Daniel 3:18). The more I threw myself into the Word, the more the peace that passed all understanding just overflowed throughout.
God was my rock, and I was comforted by Him and had learned to trust Him, no matter the consequence. Those short couple of weeks taught me to trust God. I learned to trust in Him and not in the results I wanted. I knew He would be glorified no matter what, and in that I could stand strong.
It turned out in that terrifying week, the Doctor had looked at the wrong chart. They had looked at a chart that was a year old. My dad was in great health, and this was something we praised God for and celebrated His goodness. Throughout that season—the whole year—we all learned what it meant to learn to lean on God and to trust Him despite circumstances.
Trust is not an easy thing. It is something we can just do without preparation. We are human, therefore, we trust what we can see in front of us. We trust our circumstances, and we tend to trust broken humanity before we trust God.
Although, if we live a life of proactive faith, studying and memorizing God’s word—if we spend time in prayer and worship—we begin to truly know God. When we know God, we trust Him: the never-changing, perfect, loving God.
And because of this, we can rest in Him during our difficult circumstances.