In our series on faith, last week’s post discussed how biblical faith is not a blind leap based on no evidence; neither is it a certainty which can be proven. Instead, it is a reasonable faith, somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
Today I want to discuss another characteristic of biblical faith: trust.
Teens and Youth Events
I am a youth minister, which means that I spend a good amount of time putting together a calendar of activities for my teens—youth rallies, service projects, retreats, summer trips, etc.—and then encouraging them to go on those events. With some students, it’s always a struggle to get them to go, while other students will eagerly sign up for any event as soon as they hear about it.
I have one student in particular who signs up for everything, but if it’s a new activity that we haven’t done before, he always wants to know beforehand as much information about it as possible: Where will we be staying? How many people are going to be there? Where will we eat? Who will be speaking? What will we be doing all day? What kinds of activities are planned? Why are we supposed to bring _____ with us?
This is one of my favorite kids I’m talking about, and it’s a part of who he naturally is: he wants to be informed and he wants to know what is going to happen. And usually I try to answer his questions. But once not too long ago, after a barrage of his questions, I took a different approach:
Luke: Over the years, in your experience with me and on all the trips you’ve taken with me, have I ever given you a reason not to trust me?
Luke: Then you should be able to trust that I’ll tell you the information that you need to know and the rest of it you’ll just have to wait and see, and it will be okay, right?
Student: Well…yeah…I just wanted to know.
Luke: I understand that you want to know everything; I want you to realize that you don’t have to know everything, and that you can trust that I know what’s going on and that it will be alright.
At this point, I don’t even remember what the event was or what we did, but it turned out fine.
And then it occurred to me that this example illustrates what biblical faith is all about.
Learning to Trust
The word used for believe or faith in the New Testament is the Greek verb πιστευω (pisteuo). In many places, that word is indeed translated as “believe” or “faith” (if it is a noun) in our English Bibles, but in many, many places it is also translated as “trust”, because the Greek word conveys both meanings.
So, without getting too technical, the point that I’m trying to make is that in the New Testament, the ideas of “believe” and “trust” are linked very closely, in a way that is not immediately apparent in English: faith is inherently tied to trusting in God.
One author puts it this way: when it comes to understanding faith, “…every decision, every thought, and every action comes down to this: in whom do I place my trust? Do I trust my instincts, my desires, my convictions, or do I trust in Christ?”
In the winding road of life, there are a lot of things that happen pretty much as we expect, and then there are the curveballs that life throws at us when we expect them the least. We find ourselves in situations we didn’t choose, we are uncertain as to how we should proceed, and we worry and obsess about what is going to happen and what we should do.
And a lot of times, we think that if we could just know exactly what was going to happen and how everything would turn out, then we’d be okay. Or, to put it in other words, if we could just have all of the details of the upcoming youth trip, then we could look forward to it and put our minds at ease.
But God is not in the business of giving us detailed itineraries of our futures; instead, he asks us to trust that he will take care of our futures.
The old church hymn by Ira Stanpill sums it up perfectly:
“Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow, And I know who holds my hand.”
There are a lot of things in my life that I don’t understand and about which I am inclined to worry. But God doesn’t ask me to understand it all, and he certainly doesn’t ask me to worry.
But he does ask that I trust him to take care of it. Because trusting God is what biblical faith is all about.
Kara E. Powell and Chap Clark, Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 34.