If there’s anything I’m good at, it’s controlling the crap out of things. I can take a situation into my own hands in a matter of seconds and pretend I’m the master of all puppet masters—pulling strings and fixing things. There’s a problem that needs to be solved? I’m on it. There’s a gap that needs to be bridged? I’ve got it. There’s a situation that needs to be handled? I’m your girl. I handle, solve, fix, control, take care of and deal with stuff all day, every day. By the way, I also know the very best way to do all of those things. Trust me. I know best.
The only problem with this amazing gift I have is that sometimes I’m wrong. Sometimes I don’t know best. Sometimes I don’t have all the information or the context or the right solution. Sometimes, whatever it is, is none of my freaking business!
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The truth is that I rush and run ahead so often in life—not because I’m so sure that I’ve got it under control, but because I fear that God doesn’t. Maybe He needs my help. Maybe I won’t like His plan, so I’ll come up with a better one. Maybe He’s withholding something from me. Maybe I’ll just do it myself.
The root of all of this is that I don’t trust God.
Why Is It So Hard to Trust God?
This, friend, is the original sin. We aren’t the first ones with this struggle (and we certainly won’t be the last). Let’s go all the way back to the Garden of Eden for a little history of when doubt first entered the picture.
In Genesis, when Adam and Eve are in the garden, minding their own business, the serpent comes to them with a temptation.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” — Genesis 3:1–6 (NIV)
This entire passage can be summarized with, “They took matters into their own hands.” It’s what I do every day. It’s probably what you do too. We all struggle with the same original sin—doubting God’s goodness, being tormented with fear and anxiety, and always trying to take matters into our own hands.
How to Trust God
Want to hear the good news? We don’t have to live like this. We can learn to trust God. Think of a friend you trust—someone that you would let watch your children or share a deep personal secret with. Why do you trust them? How did you learn to trust them? I would imagine it’s because of a few key factors.
- You know them personally.
- You know they are dependable.
- You know they are for you.
So, how do we learn to trust God? The exact same way.
1. Get to know God personally.
The Bible talks about how much God desires a close personal relationship with each of us. He’s not a distant God, trying to play hard to get in the clouds. He pursues us and loves us and wants to be known by us.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.” — 1 John 4:16 (NIV)
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” — Romans 5:8 (NIV)
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” — 1 John 3:1 (NIV)
God loves you and wants to spend time with you. The more time you spend with Him, the more you get to know Him. And the more you get to know Him, the easier it is to trust Him.
2. Remember when God has been faithful.
Years ago, my mom shared a brilliant Christmas tradition with me: Every year, when I pack up my Christmas decorations, I write a letter. It’s a mixture of memories, prayers, hopes and dreams. Then, when I get our ornaments out of the attic the next Christmas, I sit down and read the previous year’s letter.
It’s always fun to read your thoughts from a year ago—thoughts you may not even remember until you’re reading them again. For example, one letter begged, “God, please let me go on at least one date next year!” Well, bless my heart. I guess that was a tough year in the love department.
These letters tell the story of how far He’s brought me and all the prayers He’s answered. They tell of the moments He protected me, even when I didn’t realize it. The pages are full of testimonies of God’s faithfulness.
When you read old journals you have, or when you read the Bible, like with my Christmas letter tradition, you see example after example after example of God’s faithfulness. We doubt, and God is still faithful. We waver, and God still stays steady. We stray, and God stays close. We give up, and God keeps going.
Romans 3:3–4 (NIV) says, “What if some are unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all!” Again and again, God shows us that regardless of what we do or don’t do, He’s faithful. We can depend on Him.
Our God is a God who comes through for you. Not every now and then. Every. Single. Time. God doesn’t come through for you because you deserve it or because you’ve been good. God comes through for you because that’s who He is. Remember when God’s been faithful to you before and let that build your confidence in Him.
You can trust God because He’s faithful.
3. Read about how God feels about you.
I remember walking to my car one day in college when I had just told a lie. I thought in my head, God, I don’t know why you put up with me. At that moment, I felt the gentlest whisper in my spirit say, I don’t “put up” with you. I adore you. Tears are welling up in my eyes even now as I remember that moment. God doesn’t put up with you either. He adores you.
So often we project onto God how we feel about ourselves—full of disappointment, failure and doubt. Or we project from a place of woundedness from our past—how our dad talked to us when we were little, or how a hateful boyfriend treated us in middle school. We expect that God feels the same way about us.
If you see God as a judgmental dictator in the clouds, waiting for you to mess up again, no wonder it’s hard to trust Him. That’s why you need to read (and reread and reread!) about how God actually feels about you. Here are just a few examples of what He wrote in His love letter to you:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine . . .Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.” — Isaiah 43:1, 4 (NIV)
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” — Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” — Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)
God loves you, and He likes you. He’s in your corner, and He wants the very best for you. When you remember how He feels about you, it becomes a lot easier to trust Him and His plans for you.
Trusting God Is an Act and a Practice
Trust isn’t a thought or feeling. It’s an act and practice that you walk out in your daily life. It’s a muscle that needs to be exercised. If you’ve never used this muscle, it’s going to be weak and wobbly at first. That’s okay! Over time, the more you exercise this muscle, the easier it will become.
So, the next time something goes wrong or the rug feels pulled out from under you, you have a choice. You can panic and frantically try to fix everything yourself, or you can practice active trust. You can pause and pray. You can seek God for the solution before you make your next move.
So, take a deep breath and let your shoulders relax. Your Father knows your every need before you even have it.
To learn more about trusting God and building confidence in the person you want to be, check out my new 40-day devotional, Living True: 40 Days to Get Back to You. This devotional will give you 40 days of scripture, teachings, and prayer that will remind you who YOU are and who God is. Get your copy of today!