Walking through the challenges of a pandemic has brought the challenge of trust to the forefront during every aspect of what each of us has experienced no matter where we live, how old we are, what our gender or socioeconomic status might be.
When the world as we know it gets shaken, we are shaken as well and can become unsure of our footing, unsure of our provision, unsure of what to believe, and unsure of the future. To some degree or another these things add to the stress of the pandemic and can threaten to undo us. But looking at trust in such times also highlights what may impact how we navigate.
Trust is defined in its simplest form as follows: “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”
From the time we are born we begin to develop trust through our experiences with people and things. It develops as each experience builds one upon another to know there is consistency and reliability in that person or thing. If we do not experience danger or harm, we increase trust.
A classic example might be what a toddler from a warm healthy family environment experiences being gently tossed in the air by his or her dad and laughs gleefully instead of panics in terror. It also happens when he or she learns that the words of mom and dad are truthful and can be counted on even if they are not always what we want to hear.
These and many other things result in us believing that these people or things are good and trust grows even more and as it grows deeper and stronger it sustains us to allow us to risk being in the world with other people and things that have not given us a history to know the reliability is there. So long as we have that rock-solid foundation at the outset, we can more easily weather the rocky shoals of other relationships and things that disappoint or hurt us in some way.
Our relationship with the Lord is much the same. When we come to know Him, He invites us to know Him more fully:
“Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
We come to know Him by spending time with Him, reading the Bible, watching the lives of other believers, and seeing how consistent, truthful, and good He is. No, He is not like Santa Claus who looks over your wish list and always brings you what you want or decides you are naughty and skips your house one year. But if you don’t try to “taste and see,” you may not recognize the reality of Him nor begin to build a foundation of trust.
As a result, you will not mature and you will see the Lord as capricious, distant, uncaring, and more. Then when trouble comes in one form or another, the upheaval will cause you to believe that false perception even more. It will be easier to believe you can only rely on yourself and when you don’t have the means to handle the crisis or effect a change in how it impacts you, the results will be difficult to overcome.
If, however we “taste and see” that He is good, even when our favorite pet dies or our best friend moves away, we will still see He is good and have many examples to prove that is true. Yes, it will be hurt, and we will be sad, but we will also be able to turn to Him for comfort and know that He loves us in the midst of the hard stuff.
The path to trust is comprised of more than one thing or experience, but at the foundation is how we answer the question of our belief in whether or not God is good.
Scripture points over and over again to God’s attributes. We read He is holy, righteous, and good. Do we recognize what each of those really mean? John Piper defines these character traits of God this way in his latest book, Coronavirus and Christ:
“Holiness – transcendent, infinite, worth above all else, in a class by Himself
Righteousness – doing what is right, unwavering commitment
Goodness – not needy, a nature to give, not get, especially to those who fear and take refuge in Him”
These character traits are interlocking and together create a firm foundation of “rock certainty” we can trust in the midst of whatever comes at us no matter what the direction.
Moving toward trust during this pandemic and the ensuing impacts of it means we need to wrestle with whether or not we have tasted and seen in other times that He is good.
A belief in God’s goodness is the fuel for trust and keeps us afloat in the crashing waves and uncertain seas life can hand us whatever the reason.
What are the evidences you can see of God’s goodness even now?