How to Trust God
Part One – What You’re Already Good At : Distrusting Him
by: Father Jim Costigan, CPM
There are many reasons we don’t trust God – some quite natural to fallen man, almost inevitable ; others due to sin, our own sins or the sins of those who influence us. Here are some of the ways and the whys we do not trust God, and so sabotage ourselves :
My Myopia God never fails us. Scriptural prophecies are always fulfilled- no exceptions. Jesus does what He promises, every time. So, why don’t we believe God? Why do we suspect Jesus is going to let us down? Why, when we pray, do we sometimes feel, even if unconsciously, that our praying is a crapshoot : maybe we’ll be lucky this time and get what we’re praying for – ? Why do we keep on doubting? The short answer is : We’re dumb, blinkered, sin-twisted, and myopic. Though God is absolutely reliable, though Jesus is infallibly trustworthy, we are not ; we’re the problem. And because we’re unreliable, we don’t trust God. Huh? That is not reasonable, it’s even crazy. Still, it’s what we do. We make God ( each of us, actually, makes some idiosyncratic little god ) in the image of ourselves. We think and speak of God anthropomorphically, as if He had human traits, feelings, limitations. The fact is, though we’re made in His image, God’s ways and thoughts are infinitely different than ours. To a great extent, this skewed kind of thinking is unavoidable. It’s how the human authors of Scripture – and they were inspired by the Holy Spirit – have spoken of God. And we have naturally adopted it. ( This too : scholars unpack Scripture and attempt to express the Reality of God in less naive and more precise terms – in theological jargon. And this attempt can render That Reality even less intelligible than the Bible – a jungle of accretions abstract, academic, alien, and off-putting. ) This much distortion – our short-sightedness and inability to comprehend God’s nature and operations, joined to our inability to lay out clearly in words what we do at least somewhat understand – is then often made worse by a tendency of our fallen, darkened minds that psychologists call projection. Briefly, the untrustworthy don’t trust.
Projection Projection is a defense mechanism by which a beset and insecure mind seeks to avoid painful truth about itself by attributing its own shameful impulses and evil inclinations to others. A liar suspects everyone of lying, a manipulator always believes the other guy has a hidden agenda, a sex addict thinks everybody else has a dirty mind. Most of us tend to project – if only a little, if only once in a while – some of our ugly, faulty stuff onto God. Because you miss deadlines, fail to keep promises, tell white lies, you think ( unconsciously, usually ) God may be a little bit like you. If I know that, even with the best of intentions, I often make a mess of things, maybe God does that too. ( And a quick look at God’s world around me may seem to confirm my assessment. ) A grudge-holder imagines God up in the clouds planning the payback he’s going to rain down on sinners. A bully sees God as the Big Scary Boss whom he better not cross. And so on, with all our faults. Not wanting a god as messed up as you, and mistaking Him for the caricature you’ve projected, you then distrust the True and Absolutely Trustworthy God.
Father Hang-Ups A similar syndrome is our tendency to attribute the failings of our human fathers ( or pastors, teachers, other authority figures ) onto Our Father in Heaven. If my Dad had a bad temper, I may think God is up there angrily fuming – just waiting to get his hands on me to punish me. If your pastor promised things he never delivered, you may be expecting the same treatment from your Heavenly Father. If your dad wasn’t affectionate with you, if he was never around, if you were last thing on his list of priorities, you may see God as cold, distant, uninterested in your life, unaware of your needs, maybe even of your existence – and deaf to your prayers.
No Answer May Be the No Answer I pray fervently, on my knees, to win the Texas State Lottery. I promise God I will give half my winnings to the poor. Then, after 891 attempts, I have wasted thousands and have won precisely zero. Why won’t He answer me? My conclusion is: God’s against me and prayer is useless. I can’t trust Him. The truth is : He has answered me, and the answer is No. God loves me so much He can always be trusted to answer my prayers in the way that is best, which in this case means He keeps me from reneging on my promise and damning myself to Hell with the millions He knows I would have squandered sinfully. I have my answer, but it’s not the one I want.
The “Wrong” Answer Is Right God hears every prayer. God answers every prayer.He has, roughly, three answers : Yes, No, Wait. We have no problem with the first answer, Yes – but we hate No and we don’t like Wait. Now, when God answers No, it’s never arbitrarily, it’s never because He’s mad at us, or doesn’t like us, or because He’s ignoring us. When He says No, it is always because He loves us tenderly and will only give us what is good for us, even when that’s “wrong,” not what we asked for, something we don’t like ( and, yes, this includes pain, suffering, crosses – sweet and perfect gifts He offers to break us down in order to build us up ). We definitely don’t want to hear Wait from God. Sadly, we’re more American than Christian – spoiled brats, we want what we want, and we want it right screaming NOW ! But God knows all : He knows that we’re not yet ready for this gift, or that our request needs to be altered or nuanced in some way, or that we need to ache and yearn and grow in desire for the gift so as to better appreciate it, or that we must learn through deeper praying and waiting and longing to trust Him and His Way and His Timing – His, not ours, is always for the best, is never wrong.
The Delusion of Control When we don’t like God’s answers, we tend to reject them. And to reject His answers is to reject Him. We must face the truth that what is back of our rejecting, projecting, myopia, doubt, and distrust is pride – thinking we know better than God – pride and colossal stupidity. The stupidity is our thinking we can control our lives more satisfactorily than God can. We call Him Lord, Which means Boss, Director, The One in Charge, but we no sooner give Him the reins than we grab them back. I pray, Thy Will be done, when what I mean is, My will be done. Though you say otherwise, you don’t really want Him calling the shots, because, honestly, you don’t trust Him. Even after examining a long record of foul-ups and failures, you still trust you. Despite a mountain of evidence of my own ignorance, stupidity, and evil, I still trust me. God help us.
Jesus, help us to begin to trust in You.
COMING SOON… – How to Trust God : Part Two – What You Need to Learn :Trusting Him