Are you familiar with the "trust fall"? You're instructed to fall backwards into the arms of a partner who promises to catch you, but have to trust them completely and would endure the pain of falling to the floor if they don't keep their promise. I used to wait until the last moment possible to catch my partner, just to make sure they really did trust me. “Trusting” that someone is willing and able to do as they have been instructed at the risk of temporary pain is one thing, but trusting God to take care of you in a situation that looks bleak with any number of outcomes is something else entirely.
This God we’re commanded to trust is the same God who inspired the words of James 1:2-4, 12 - Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything…Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
I don’t know about you, but to me this doesn’t really sound like “If you fall, I will catch you”. It sounds more like “If you fall, it will hurt, but then you will become a much better person for experiencing the hurt!” That doesn’t sound quite as appealing as the playground promise teaching us to trust each other.
Still, Proverbs 3:5 is pretty clear.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
If you’re not trusting to be caught pain-free every time you fall, then what are you trusting? There are numerous examples and references to trust in the bible, but my favorite is Daniel.
Daniel 6:16, 19-23
So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den.
…At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Daniel had trusted in his God.
What exactly did Daniel trust? Did he trust that he would make it through the night untouched by ravenous lions? Did he trust that he would somehow survive, even though he may be hurt? Or did Daniel trust that God would do what was best, whether that meant pain, death, or any other possible outcome? Daniel trusted that God was in control, and he had made peace with whatever God decided to do with him. He trusted absolutely, but didn’t necessarily know if he would make it until morning. In fact, he may very well have assumed that he would not. That’s the way we need to trust.
We need to strive for faith like Daniel's, focusing every fiber of our being towards what is right in His sight no matter the consequences or societal pressures, and trust that our God is in control.
Sometimes we tend to ignore the obvious application of scripture to our right-here-right-now lives. Yes, we acknowledge that God loves us and is in control of our lives. We even sometimes pray boldly for his hand to guide things in the way we would like them to go, and we should do this! How often, though, do we really and truly trust God whole-heartedly with the most fragile aspects of our lives and trust his will above our own?
Maybe you’re going through financial difficulty and you don’t see a way out. Maybe your ideal timeline for having children is not lining up with actuality. Maybe part or even all of your marriage is not God-pleasing and your heart is breaking every day. Maybe it’s illness. Maybe it’s another heartache. There are so many times in our lives that we look at the den of lions we’re sentenced to and cry out because we feel like we didn’t do anything to deserve it.
Mirror the courage of Daniel. Do what is right in God’s sight despite everything, make peace with your sentence to the lion's den, and trust that He is in control. Does this mean you will get out of every hardship unscathed? Absolutely not. Take comfort, though, in the words of Psalm 9:9-10
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
We need to stop looking only to ourselves, our friends, or worldly remedies for the answers that come only from a God so much greater than ourselves. Just as it would have been so much more practical for Daniel to hide his worship of God or to just bow to the king and ask for forgiveness later, we often only see a narrow field of solutions and try to justify them in our minds. Wouldn't it be more practical to stop giving to God when the numbers in our budget just don’t allow for it? If we are really in a loveless marriage and endure constant emotional abandonment, are we really expected to stay until death do us part?
God loves you so, so very much, and he knows every aspect of your hurt. He wants you to be Daniel, not to make you suffer, but because He is the only one with the power to shut the lion’s mouths. Trust with your whole self that God can because whatever His plan, he will never, ever forsake you.