Sometimes I struggle with trust in God. Trusting God is such a nebulous concept. Really, for the critical thinker – to trust in God is not an easy feat. It’s the idea that I have to put aside my rational thought to believe in a Deity that has my back. Buddhism actually has a cool concept about trust. Unlike other world religions, Buddism doesn’t claim one must have a personal relationship with a Deity. Instead, Buddhism focuses on our mutual interdependence with all other beings. Surrounding our interdependence is an all-embracing Reality that sustains us. Or, if you will, it’s like Obi-Wan Kenobi said to Luke, “Trust the force Luke.” Clearly the concept that there’s some kind of underlying force that has our back, has been a theme throughout the ages. For those who study holy scriptural passages, you can find a great deal about how to trust God.
- In the Bhagavad Gita, we read, “Will he who took care of the whole world before our birth and will take care of it after our death, not take care of our small world while we are alive, especially when we are trying to serve him? Surely, he will.” (10.07).
- In the Koran, we hear of Tawakkul – the word for the Islamic concept of reliance on God or “trusting in God’s plan” or perfect trust in God.
- One of my favorite passages about trust is found in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) in the Book of Proverbs: (3:5-6) “Trust in God with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge God, who makes your paths straight.”
I had been having a particularly bad day when I decided to go for a walk. I passed a garage sale and saw the plaque on a table. I took it as a sign from the universe that I was going to be okay. But I also realized – I was not alone in this struggle. Obviously, trusting God has been an issue for humans throughout the ages.
The Struggle To Trust in God
I have always struggled with the concept of trusting in God. As a secular person, the religious overtones of trust used to make me uncomfortable. I know I had to trust in something bigger than me, but did it have to be a Deity? Did I have to trust in a God that used to have people stoned if they transgressed the Sabbath? I shared this struggle with a therapist a few years ago and she suggested I read the book, “Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God.” By Brennan Manning. https://brennanmanning.com
The book and author are overtly Christian. However, she suggested I keep an open mind and find what ideas resonated with me, and leave behind the religiosity. I found something immediately which hit home. On page 22, he wrote, “In explaining the growth of his faith, psychiatrist Gerald May writes, “I know that God is loving and that God’s loving is trustworthy. I know this directly, through the experience of my life. There have been plenty of times of doubt, especially when I used to believe that trusting God’s goodness meant I would not be hurt. But having been hurt quite a bit, I know God’s goodness goes deeper than all pleasure and pain it embraces them both.””
I had to be open to whatever experience God had in store for me. I have suffered pain in my life. The first time I was ever fired. Or someone broke up with me. Or I lost someone I loved. These low points are all parts of the human experience that I must walk through to get to the other side.
Trusting God Doesn’t Mean I Will Be Pain-free
I had been confused about the pain part! I erroneously thought that if I felt pain, it meant God didn’t love me! There is nothing farther from the truth. Trusting God doesn’t mean that we won’t hurt. Instead, it means, we will be okay through the hurt. Sometimes we have to feel pain in order to move through it. However, we don’t necessarily have to suffer. Pain is necessary, suffering is a choice. We suffer when we avoid feeling pain and therefore can’t move through it. Once I understood that pain was a touchpoint that brought me to further action, I stopped seeing pain as a negative thing. I can have pain, and still trust that pain is the price we pay to move to what is coming next. That is the part we have to trust: That the pain will pass and we will eventually move through it.
Trust God – But Keep Your Feet Moving
Trusting God means I may feel fear, discomfort and uncertainty. Those emotions can exist simultaneously with trust. And in order to prove our trust, we have to do our part. That is, we have work to do. It’s not okay to claim, “I trust God so I’ll just sit on the couch and eat bon-bon’s all day.” We still have to do the footwork to move forward.
There is an Arabic proverb about the man who decided that he would have absolute faith in Allah. He took his camel from the market and went to prayer, leaving his camel outside. He spent hours on his mat, praying and promising to be a more devout and faithful Muslim. When he came out from prayer, he couldn’t find his camel. He got angry, feeling betrayed. That he trusted Allah but now his camel was gone! A passing traveler heard his tantrum and said, “Trust Allah, but tie up your camel first.”
I still struggle with trusting that all will turn out well. This past weekend, once again, I crashed and burned in terms of trust. Finally, I got to a place of surrender. When I am in enough pain, I become willing to do whatever I believe I should do. When I follow that understanding with doing the footwork, I move forward through the fear. In this way, I find I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and have far less pain then I otherwise would have. My wish for you is to strive to find a deeper level of faith. Until we meet again, may you be blessed on your spiritual journey!
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