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Weekly Devotionals

What It Means to Really Trust in God

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. […] In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise– in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me? I am under vows to you, my God; I will present my thank offerings to you. For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life. – Psalm 56:3, 10-13 (NIV)

What makes you afraid? When I was young, my active imagination would send me to my mother at night, seeking solace from childhood fears threatening from under my bed and dark bedroom corners. She gave me this verse to recite, “When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee,” from Psalm 56:3. She’d learned this from her mother and she taught it to me.

Then and many times since I wasn’t sure it helped me much. Instead of a calm feeling magically coming over me, my fears mostly remained just as strong and real. Jesus never appeared – poof! – to erase what had me scared. Though I taught the little ritual to my own children, I myself had stopped.

Recently, though, something clicked. I went to the emergency room with severe pain and the process of finding the causes and getting treated took about 10 hours. A some point during the wait, I realized they were doing what they could, and all I could do was to try to lessen the pain by relaxation techniques. With tension and pain reverberating through my entire body, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath in and searched for some phrase to soothe. Out of nowhere the old verse came to me, and I breathed it out, “When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”

I quickly felt how different this was from wishing on a star or hoping a lottery number comes up; it’s a statement of certainty, affirming trust in a God who is worthy. Perhaps it was His grace, or perhaps the reality of my utter helplessness that let me understand this verse as a commitment to depending on the Lord. How welcome and reassuring that realization was.

As I continued, I thought about how placing faith in Him is a choice. Akin to “I have decided to follow Jesus,” the verse states I trust God in spite of fears still surrounding me, not because they’re gone. That defiant choice to trust Him confesses His Lordship and invites His work. In Matthew 13:58, for example, we learn that, “[Jesus] did not do many miracles [in Nazareth] because of their lack of faith.” (NIV, emphasis mine)

My comforted heart allowed me to let go of my fear, and wait on God through the pain. What did I learn? I guess it’s that faith in practice requires disciplining my worldly expectations. I’ve since discovered just how often fear lies at the root of what troubles me. When I don’t get the resolution I want, when I want it, I can lapse into fear that I’m not good enough or God isn’t. I try to take control from God, adjusting my expectations and prayers as if to “help” Him be a good god. I don’t simply trust Him.

The comfort I need comes from surrendered faith in God Himself in all His sovereignty, which offers hope to persevere and God room to work as He will – in me especially. It means remaining certain of His ultimate goodness in all circumstances, especially when I can’t see Him working. It’s no easy task to “let go and let God.” It’s more than reciting a short verse, but that said, I think having a verse to say truly helps remind me in those moments of doubt, fear or pain. What verse for you affirms the invincible power and unstoppable willingness of God to work for good in your life? Commit it to memory and try saying it when you need Him.

You are His beloved child. So when you are afraid, decide to trust in Him.

“There is no excuse for fear if God is the foundation of our trust.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon