Trust in God

Trust in God

The rupture that mark’s man in his most basic relationships often leads to distrust and fear. In this way, the human person, though not always consciously, assumes a stance of suspicion and distance towards others, even toward God. This distrust is manifest in fear, a lack of generosity, lies, and individualism. There’s no shortage of people who rest their trust upon false foundations, in mirages that only bring deception and growing frustration.

In the origins of our own history, we can perceive something of this reality of mistrust as one that arises from our rupture with God. After committing original sin, God calls Adam, and he replied, “I heard your voice in Paradise, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and so I hid myself.”[1] It appears that distrust in God is intimately related with personal rupture, and the inability to accept one’s own fragility.

Encountering Oneself

When we encounter ourselves, we discover a two-sided reality which appears to be contradictory. On the one hand, we can affirm that our nature is weak and limited, that we are contingent and fragile, that contradiction is a constant in our lives. This fact opens us to the human need for trust and to not limit our expectations to our own abilities. We also experience a profound longing for plenitude and realization. This is the hunger for God that dwells in our hearts, and opens us to entrust and give ourselves to our Creator. We discover that our deepest nature is moving us to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the Lord.

Trust in God

The decision to trust in God is a conscious option to place ourselves in the Lord’s hands, and an indispensable way for us to attain holiness. Far from resembling an attitude of abandonment or inactivity, this trusting stance implies a dynamic and positive response. It should not be confused with naïve passivity, as if the Plan of God could dispense with human cooperation. A look at Mary sheds lights on this understanding of trust. At the Annunciation-Incarnation and throughout her life, she lived this virtue in exemplary fashion. She is aware of her condition as the Lord’s servant, and always approaches God’s Plan, as it is unveiled, with a vision of faith. Confidence in God, far from being a passive attitude in Mary, drives her to respond with a generous and effective Fiat throughout her life. Having placed her heart in the Lord’s hands, she sets out, to the maximum of her abilities and possibilities, in order to complete the divine Plan. In her, we can see how trusting God illuminates human action and protects against both pessimism and a naïve optimism.

Trusting in God is complemented by a healthy distrust of oneself, which helps us remember our own weakness and limitations. Humility, understood as “walking in truth,” helps us to maintain a balanced, objective perspective of ourselves while we strive to live the virtue of trust. This healthy distrust should not be confused with an exaggerated or unhealthy distrust or with a pessimistic vision of oneself, as if people were incapable of doing anything of worth. Mary’s question to the angel teaches us to have the right attitude: “How shall this be done, since I do not know man?”[2] Her line of question does not reveal distrust in God’s power, but of her own limited understanding. She knows that the response cannot come from herself, but from on High. She shows how a healthy distrust of oneself opens one up to a transcendent dimension, one that surpasses her own abilities. On the other hand, her question, far from reflecting doubt or distrust, is a request for instructions on how to proceed. She asks, “how shall this be done” in order to respond correctly. We see how a right distrust in oneself does not lead to inactivity or timidity, but moves one to generous, effective action.

For God, Nothing is Impossible

To Mary’s question, “how shall this be done,” the angel responds by saying that she will conceive a son by power of the Holy Spirit. As a sign, he reveals that her cousin Elizabeth is in the sixth month of her pregnancy, “For no word will be impossible with God.”[3] The messenger affirms not only God’s omnipotence, but also his fidelity, a pillar that upholds our trust in Him. We learn that God loved us first,[4] and that he was willing to become one us and even die on the Cross for our sake. Our trust in God is nourished by His immense love for each and every one of us.

Elizabeth’s expressive words to Mary unveil another aspect of trust in God: “And blessed (or happy) are you who believed, for the things that were spoken to you by the Lord shall be accomplished.”[5] Trust, born in our faith in God, opens up a path of authentic realization and happiness. Elizabeth herself is a sign of God’s fidelity to his promises, having “herself also conceived a son, in her old age.”[6] This ought to question us deeply since we often are discouraged by much less significant things. We forget that for God all things are possible since his (His?) love for us has no limit.

Living out Trust

Navigating at night and tossed about by the wind and waves, the disciples become afraid because they don’t recognized Jesus walking toward them on the water. They begin to yell thinking that he is a ghost. Jesus calms them and Peter says, “Lord, if it is you, order me come to you over the waters.”[7] Peter’s request really has no precedent, but one can detect in his words a deep certainty that all things are possible for the Teacher. Peter reveals his trust, which surpasses human logic. He has the deep conviction that the Lord can grant miracle, even one as unfathomable as walking on water. The apostle leaves the security of the boat and surprisingly begins to walk. But soon, he is scared by the violence of the wind, and begins to sink.

In some ways, we also walk on water following the Lord’s voice, assuming challenges that truly surpass our capacities. But, how often we are like Peter and become afraid or distracted by the wind. We lose sight of the Teacher, thus sinking into the chaos of daily life, into the dispersion of activism. We cease to place our trust in the Lord and cling to false securities.

In order to have confidence in God, we ought to establish some concrete means to do so. While it may seem obvious, we should meditate upon our hunger for God, remembering that our longing for transcendence can never be satisfied by anything contingent. We ought to also reflect on our own limitations. It’s good to recall Scriptural passages where God is faithful to his promises and to his love. We can always trust in God’s mercy. When there come particularly tense moments or when we feel overwhelmed, it’s good to remember that the Lord’s grace always accompanies us. We must also recall our wounded nature and its inclination to sin. We must be specially careful so as not to fall prey to to the illusions of our subjectivism. These illusions many times try to make us to lose hope and it is necessary that we recur to criteria found in the Gospels. We should, moreover, look to Mary. She is an example of a dynamic and effective trust in God.

Lastly, if we see ourselves sinking in the midst of life’s storms, we have to be able to return our gaze to the Lord of Nazareth and unite our voice to Peter’s: “Lord, save me!”[8] We can say this with deep conviction, knowing that he will immediately extend his hand to save us.

For Meditation

We can trust in God in times of trouble: 2Chr 14:10; 2Chr 16:8; 2Chr 20:20b; Sir 2:1-6.

Trust in divine providence: Ps 36:23; Ps 102:11,17; Is 40:30-31; Is 44:3-5; Is 49:15; Is 54:8; Jer 17:5ff; Jer 31:3; 1Jn 4:9; 1Jn 5:14.

Trust in God’s promises: Is 26:4; Lk 1:45; 2Cor 3:4-5.

A healthy distrust of oneself: Prov 3:5.

For God, nothing is impossible: Tb 5:10; Mt 14:28-29; Lk 1:36-37.

 

[1] Gen 3:10.

[2] Lk 1:34.

[3] Lk 1:37.

[4] See 1Jn 4:19.

[5] Lk 1:45.

[6] Lk 1:36.

[7] Mt 14:28.

[8] Mt 14:30.