Trusting (unabridged)

Do you trust God? Before you answer too quickly, do you realize you have been given a measure of faith (Rm. 12:3)? Yes, I’m sure you do.

But what about trust?

Trust isn’t something given. Trust is something that you develop.

I’m sure you are familiar with the famous verse in Hebrews 11:6: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” The author of this great chapter and its all-stars lets us know up front that faith is essential in the Christian life. But not only is faith more important than simply believing, trusting God is more challenging yet.

Faith is confidence in God and in His ability. Therefore, faith that is tested intensely becomes trust once the test is passed.

Under tough conditions, faith and trust are ripped from the realm of religious terminology and placed alongside courage, determination, and perseverance. In Hebrews eleven, this meant torture, death, martyrdom, and disappointment.

I don’t subscribe to the concept of “blind faith.” Faith may find itself in a maze or being buffeted with ferocity, but I disagree with the picture of helpless, meaningless, blind faith. Faith doesn’t look at circumstances to acquire a heading.  Faith looks at its object, the Lord Jesus Christ.

That sounds nice, religious, and unrealistic, doesn’t it? What does faith forged into trust and focused on its object look like?

Notice in Hebrews 11:8 that Abraham believed God, packed his ox cart, and left home not having a clue as to his destination. I must point out: We know the end of the story. Abraham makes it to the Promised Land. But Abraham didn’t know how the story would end when he left home.

There is more, and as challenging as Abraham’s demonstration of faith is, I find the testimony of those mentioned later in the chapter even more thought-provoking. After detailing a formidable list of faith all-stars, chapter eleven draws to a close with this: “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised” (11:39).

Bad ending to the story, huh?

All these great folks, listed over the space of thirty-eight verses and hundreds of years, died without receiving what God had promised them. It’s under these circumstances that superficial, self-serving faith withers and true faith is forged into trust.

Our ancestors in the faith demonstrated obedient confidence that was tempered through their personal histories into trust, trust that remained faithful. Each one reached the terminus of life without having the fulfillment of God’s promise.

When the torch was held to the bonfire around their stake they had yet to see God deliver His promise to them. Surely the enemy screamed indictments against God as the chorus of onlookers cheered the boiling of their life’s blood. But deep in their hearts, even as they smelled the acrid stench of their own burning flesh, they must have heard the Lord saying, “Trust Me.”

And they did. Their names are in the chapter.

But their roles do not end with the epitaph of their testimonies. Chapter twelve informs us that these great men and women of faith are now gathered in the grandstands of heaven cheering for us. These are not Monday morning, armchair quarterbacks.

No doubt about it. Life sometimes appears grim from our vantage point. Hope appears to be losing to disappointment. But these folks who have gone before us felt the martyr’s flames, the torturer’s cruelty, the teeth of the lions, and tasted the dirt of the arena as they died in degradation and derision. All this they experienced without seeing God fulfill His promise, yet they believed.

Like them, we will trust God to the extent our faith in God is challenged.

We’re in a big game and the crowd is into it. The angels offer support, but the all-stars shout exhortations. They ran the race, scaled the cliffs, forded the torrents, and faced the barriers that impede us. They would not lie to us. They have nothing further to gain, but we have a great deal to lose.

So, stand encouraged.

Their lives are a megaphone calling out the next cheer for the visiting team, and that’s us. This place is not our home. We’re only visiting this planet.

Soon, we too will be in heaven’s grandstands where a faith all-star has a seat reserved next to him.