Why Is It So Difficult to Trust?
What would it be like to not be anxious? Is it possible? Is anxiousness okay or a sign of a serious problem? What do you do when you are anxious: bite your nails, lose sleep, get angry, obsess, medicate the pain with some form of addiction? The anxiousness and worry that is so prevalent in our time has an appropriate but elusive antidote: trust.
What is trust?
If I asked you to show me some trust, you wouldn’t reach into your pocket and pull it out. It’s not tangible, but it’s very real. Another word for trust is faith. The way to see or demonstrate it is through action. You can see that someone trusts someone else, trusts a product, or trusts a principle because of what he or she does. We are able to confide because we know our friends can keep confidences. We show that we trust the big swing at amusement parks, their designers, and their operators (perfect strangers, by the way) by strapping in and taking a ride.
The problems with trust we have are often results of our inability to give up control. Rather than turning to others when we struggle, we impatiently try harder, our cries of pain, confusion, insecurity, inadequacy, failure, and loneliness buried and muffled by the drone of a hostile world. This is where distrust is bred. Wallowing in shame, remorse, self-hatred, and guilt over real or imagined past failure demonstrates that we cannot trust even the most basic expressions of love.
The Christian life has been defined in this single word: trust. It is the heart of Jesus’ teaching (John 14:1). Jesus demonstrates for us what trust in God looks like by doing what God commands (John 5:19). When it is facing obstacles that it seemingly can’t overcome, the heart that trusts says, “Father, Dad, I surrender my will and my life to you without hesitation or reservation because you are my loving Father.”
We may not see ourselves as lovable. Trust grows when we allow ourselves to be loved as we are, not as we should be. Trust means that we accept ourselves as we are, kicking to the curb unhealthy guilt, shame, and self-hatred.
This is what it means to be a Christian—embracing grace and moving from distrust to trust. Every day when we wake up, we must reaffirm that commitment. Trust, according to the Bible, is the willingness to come to God on his terms despite the obstacles, seeking his Kingdom and doing life his way. Trust is sparked by the conviction that God wants us to experience full and abundant lives.
Not surprisingly, trust in God grows gradually and most often through crises and trials. Attempting to make things better for ourselves and each other doesn’t help us grow in trust. It only eliminates the bad feelings. The psalmist shares his meditation on this reality by declaring that when he is in the depths of fear, he chooses to trust in God (Psalm 56:3-4).
When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray, he gave them what we now know as the Lord’s Prayer, which is recited weekly during worship services around the world. It is a declaration of dependence and trust in God as the sustainer of life and provider for what he knows we need: a father relationship, friendship, belonging, identity, encouragement, physical needs, and deliverance from trying times and temptation (Matthew 6:9-13).
If you struggle with trust, pray this prayer. See where it takes you.