I hear the question all the time: How do I know I can trust someone?
Trust is a tricky one. We need to trust one another. In our heads, we know that, but it’s so hard to put into practice. Unfortunately, most of us have had our trust broken in the past. When our trust is broken it’s hard to imagine ever trusting anyone again. It’s easy to become hardened against people, suspecting that they have hidden motives. In our world, it’s considered completely normal (and even smart) to live our lives this way. God’s economy, as always, looks a little different from our own.
As long as we focus on the motives and intentions of other people, trust will be a constant battle. People mess up. People have hurt us in the past. People are not always trustworthy. Brothers and sisters, that is when we need to get our eyes back on our trustworthy God. Trust isn’t about trusting people. We trust God and give people the benefit of the doubt. When we are secure, trusting in our faithful God, we don’t have to armor ourselves against people. We can have the boldness of the Psalmist:
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
The truth is, people are not always deserving of our trust. Not everyone is trustworthy. On the other hand, not everyone has ill intentions. If we live our lives, armoring ourselves with bitterness and suspicion, we will miss out on relationship and community. Our job is not to sniff out every ill intention and see everyone’s hidden motives. Our job is to trust that, no matter what people do, God is in control. He is at work in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Rather than looking for the untrustworthiness of others, we need to look for his hand at work. Even when others disappoint us, he remains steadfast. Even when those around us prove untrustworthy, he transforms the situation for his purposes. Even when we are confronted with the sad actions of human beings, we are able to walk alongside them. We know that our God is worth trusting.
I like to call this “putting trust in the gap.” All of us have expectations in our life, areas where we rely on other people. When those expectations are not met, we are faced with a gap. We get to decide how to fill that gap. We can pack it full of suspicion and assume the worst of that person, or we can choose to fill it with trust.
As we spend more time in the presence of our trustworthy Savior, we will find that our hearts soften. We are more able to trust others, because we’ve had practice trusting Jesus. The world might see this approach to trust and laugh. The idea of trust might appear shallow or naïve, but if it’s rooted in our trust of God, we have nothing to fear. We will find ourselves more content when we allow our trust to land in the right places.