The Foundation of Trusting God and the Problem of Human Nature:

“God created man according to His image and likeness…”
(Genesis 1:27).

Man possesses an image of divinity within him that makes him unique and different from the things around him (Ps. 8:4-8). The image of divinity gives him rationality and freedom to live his life according to his desire. Hence, man is not a robot programmed to do the design of his creator. However, human rationality and freedom don’t mean that man has the autonomous right and power to do just anything he wants. Rather, part of the divine imprints within him has a certain aspect of limitation and instruction (Gen.1:28). As a creature, man is made to be dependent to his Creator and expected to follow divine will. God created man to trust Him. The divine image shows a bond of relationship between the dependent and the all-sufficient God. Thus, the meaning of life, its purpose, power, satisfaction, and destination is summed up in one word, “dependence” to God.

Therefore, trusting God is an expression of humanness and a necessary and reasonable response to God. However, when man fell into sin, the naturalness of trusting God became corrupt (Gen. 3). Man began to question the character of His Creator and placed his own reason above the will of God. As a result, man was separated from God, making him unable to feel the presence and hear the voice of His Creator. Even until now, the self-centered effect of sin in the human heart has greatly affected man in his view and value of God. Sin deceives and drives man to live independently of God. Man’s self-centeredness has caused him to lose the voice of His Creator that calls him to humble himself and repent of his sins.
The difficulty then of trusting God is not because there’s something wrong with God. The problem is that the human heart has been corrupted by sin. For this reason, to restore in man the appreciative ability of trusting God, man needs to be born again in the Spirit of God (John 3:3).

Hindrance to Trusting God and means to Seeing God:
“…because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.” (Romans 1:19)

The silence of heaven is the number one criticism of the modern man when it comes to believing the existence of God. According to skeptics, if God really exists, why can’t He show Himself visible and powerful on earth? If there’s a good God in heaven, why is He allowing pain and suffering in the world? Thus, if God wants to win the trust of humanity, He must answer to our needs as human beings.

Now, a lot of objections can be mentioned about these questions. But from the perspective of the world, the basic problem of trusting God has to do with His visibility and availability. Surprisingly, this problem is not only true to non-Christians but also experiential to Christians. Of course, there’s a big difference in the issue of the problem. The problem of the unbeliever is sin in the heart. Despite God’s self-evident manifestation in nature and in the history of biblical revelation, yet pride and self-centeredness hinder man to see the reality of God. Man seeks God according to his own terms.
On the contrary, when it comes to the problem of the Christian, the difficulty of trusting God is not because of pride but of personal weakness. Meaning to say, a Christian is still a human being. Although by spiritual regeneration he has received a new nature, the weakness of the old nature is not yet eradicated. Thus, through the assaults of Satan and through the influence of the World, he is still vulnerable to doubt God. That’s why, like Adam and Eve, when a Christian exposes himself to the lies of Satan, the possibility of questioning God is knocking at the door of his heart. And so, the cause of doubting God or the reason why we fail to listen and stand firm on His words is because we entertain worldly beliefs and values. That’s why it is an utmost responsibility of the Christian to regularly renew his mind and refresh his heart with God’s word (Rom. 12:2). Through Bible reading and meditation, he understands the will of God and sees how this invisible God makes His goodness visible and experiential to those who trust in Him.

Nourishing your Trust in God:
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17)

Man left to himself does not have the capacity to trust God. Trust is a relational matter. It is the bond of relationship. Think about it, why does a child can laugh when his dad toss him up in the air? A little mistake of mishandling could harm the child. And yet, the child can still smile and laugh, believing that dad will surely catch him. If this picture of trust and goodness is true in the imperfect earthly-human realm, how much more when it comes to God?

The trustworthiness of God derives from His holy and good character. We trust Him because He is trustworthy. But then, we must admit that although we acknowledge God as a heavenly Father full of goodness and truth, we still find ourselves struggling to fully trust Him. But why is this happening? Why do we still doubt God even though we know by creeds and profession of faith that He is trustworthy? The problem is because we lack the spiritual health and stamina to exercise our faith.

Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). In this statement, when Jesus relates the necessity of God’s word to physical food, He is telling us that the soul of man needs a regular intake of God’s word. Just as the body needs daily nutrition, similarly, the soul needs daily spiritual sustenance. Thus, the attitude of trusting God is not actually a matter of gift – like the gift of faith. Practically speaking, it is matter of being fed or nourished by the Word. The source of spiritual desire and ability to trust God comes from the nourishment of His word. When the soul is scripturally healthy, it has the energy to trust God.

Challenged and Encouraged to Trust God:
“Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation…” (Genesis 12:1-2)

Trusting God is not an exercise of willpower. It is not a product of self-determination and personal discipline to believe God. If trusting God is about willpower, only extroverts have the suitable temperament to believe something positive. If trusting God is self-produced, the secular psychology of self-esteem and the doctrine of self-help will determine and shape your trust in God. But if you will observe the application of faith in the Bible, you will learn that faith is always a response to God.

A classic example of responding faith is the calling of Abraham. If you will remember the story in Genesis 12:1-6, God called Abraham to leave his hometown, his parents, his job, his friends, and his social position. Interestingly, God had called Abraham to do this during their first meeting. In other words, at the time of this calling, Abraham was not yet a full-pledge believer of God. He didn’t have a sufficient experience and a spiritual environment that encouraged him to trust what God had said. I’m pretty sure that his wife Sarah, their parents, and their servants were shocked to hear the news of leaving their beloved country. Perhaps, Sarah tried to convince Abraham to change his mind; to think carefully if God was the One who really talked to him or it was just a pigment of his imagination or a form of hallucination. You see, all the things that they want to enjoy were already set in the city of Haran. They had a socio-political advantage that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives. Yet, the story tells us that Abraham obeyed the command of God. Genesis 12:1-6 does not give us the specific struggles that they went through during the process of decision-making. But certainly there was a struggle to believe what God said. However, the Scripture did not bother to record that struggle because what matters in the story is the obedient faith of Abraham.

Thus, the question is, how did Abraham get himself to believe God? One thing is certain if you will study the text carefully. It was God’s encouragement itself that enabled Abraham to trust God. You see, when God calls you to believe or do something, He also supplies the encouragement for you to experience the challenge of His calling. Therefore, our human response-ability to trust God needs divine inspiration for us to act in obedience. And just like the story of Abraham, when he obeyed the challenge of God, never was the time that God ever leave him or forsake him. Indeed, Abraham became the great father of many nations because of responsive faith.

The Present Difficulty of Trusting God:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)

It is easy to believe the goodness of God when things go well according to plan. It is easy to sing a song of praise and to offer thanksgiving when we enjoy the blessings. But life is not always easy. For unknown reason, it seems that pain, suffering, trials, and failure are inevitable experiences in life. Plans are not always achieved. Dreams are not always materialized. Health is not always maintained. Wealth is not always secured. Love is not always reciprocated. Relationships can be broken. And sin always gets the best of us. Indeed, all of these things testify that life is not easy; we are not always in control. Moreover, in this world, it seems that the one who prospers is he who lives his life by his own. Trusting God is not the popular principle of successful people. Prayer, Scripture meditation, and submission to God are not typical approaches to success. For the people of this world, if you want to succeed, self-determination and worldly connections will drive you through it. Thus, when a Christian faces the reality that his belief in God does not guarantee health, wealth, and power, he begins to think if God truly cares for his well-being.

Of course, all of us experience suffering. No human being is exempted to life’s difficulty. But it seems that the Christian life compared to the unbeliever suffers a lot. Why? That’s because the Christian faces three formidable enemies of the faith – Lust of the flesh, Worldliness, and Satan. And since worldly success promotes participation in these three, the Christian finds himself unprivileged and persecuted. In this very situation, the nagging question arises, “Why does God allow the righteous to suffer?” “If God is good and powerful, why is He not making His children healthy and wealthy?” Admittedly, to answer these questions is not easy because it is very personal and emotional. Moreover, God’s answer in the Scriptures seems to be unsatisfying when judged by present human situation. Yet, God’s answer to Christian suffering is eschatological, that is, at the time of Christ’s return. Thus, in the meantime, as we wait for the time of glorification, God has given us His Spirit to comfort us. This comfort can be in the form of wisdom, strength, and patience to bear our sufferings. But most specially, this comfort is very personal because through the presence of the Holy Spirit, God helps us to face life’s difficulty.

Therefore, God allows suffering in the Christian life not because He enjoys seeing His child in pain. Rather, He wants the Christian to realize that even when his trust disappears in times of storm, God’s love will never let him down. No one can separate the Christian from the love of God (Romans 8). In other words, true success is to be safe in the hands of God no matter what happens in our lives.

Trusting God is a matter of Perspective:
Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9).

Trusting God in times of difficulty is a matter of spiritual perspective. If the Christian is walking in step with God, he can see things according to God’s perspective. His understanding of happiness and profit is determined by what he can see in the spiritual realm. For example, in the history of the early Church, Christians were horribly persecuted both by the Roman state and Judaism. It was never easy to live as a Christian in the early Church; it was very dangerous. The Christian doctrine and worship were considered rebellion to the Emperor who declared himself as the god of Rome. In fact, to be named as a Christian was a sufficient death warrant. In relation to Judaism, the Christians were judged as blasphemers for believing Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of God. Thus, to be a Christian at that period was never stress-free. It was actually a life of literal sacrifice, pain, and death.
However, compared to the religious trend that we have today, the early Christians expected suffering. They didn’t have any idea of what we call the Health and Wealth Gospel. For them, the Gospel was to take up your cross daily and follow Christ. And so, despite the various difficulties that they faced, despite the shame and pain that they received from the unbelieving world; they were able to stand firm on their faith and even to die gloriously faithful.

Now, this does not mean that the early Christians hadn’t felt discouragement and doubt. Of course, as frail human beings, they also cried and had been afraid to die, especially when they see their love ones in pain. But in the midst of that, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, they’d been supernaturally strengthened to face death with dignity, hope, and glory. It was for this reason why St. Peter wrote to the early Church, “If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1 Pet. 4:16). Yes, socio-politically speaking, the name Christian was despised, but from God’s eternal perspective it was a dignified name worthy of sacrifice. You know, it was a popular creed of the early Church at that time to declare, “If we suffer with Christ, we will also reign with Christ.” (2 Tim. 2:18). That’s the spiritual perspective that fixed their feet on solid foundation, which also enabled them to trust God in times of persecution.
Therefore, if you want to strengthen your faith in times of difficulty, you need to reset your affection on things above and not on things on the earth (Col. 3:1-2). Your value-system must be eternal and spiritual instead of temporal and material.

The Necessity of the Gospel in Trusting God:
And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). The essence of pleasing God is to trust Him. Dependence is the response attitude of the creature that glorifies His Creator. It is an acknowledgement of who we are and an adoration of who God is. But when sin entered into the human heart and in his world, man’s view of God became corrupt. Sin brought suffering, doubt, fear, anxiety, lust, struggle, failure, and death. When Adam and Eve were still in the Garden of Eden, their dependence to God was a natural attitude. There was no psychological struggle that hindered them to believe God. The existence and communication of God was basically a common reality for them. But when sin entered into their hearts, the attitude of doubt, selfishness, and independence ruined their behavior. Consequently, dependence to God became an option and sooner than later became a question. The presence of sin removes the reality of God in man’s mind and his world. The common sense of believing God has become a myth or superstition. Indeed, sin made man like a God; that is, by making man as the master of his life and the captain of his soul. Self-independence became the essence of sin, even the object of God’s displeasure.

The cure to this human predicament is the power of the Gospel. If we want to restore human desire and ability to trust God, the Gospel must shine in his heart and mind (2 Cor. 4:3-4). The Gospel must expose the deception of sin and illumine man of his spiritual condition as a sinner. Man’s affection must be transformed so that he can appreciate and worship the person and work of Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. All of these are essential elements that create desire and ability in the human heart to trust God sincerely and perseveringly.

Now, if you are already a Christian and you find yourself in a difficult situation to trust God, dear friend, look back to the Cross of Jesus Christ. Remember His sacrificial death. Rekindle in your mind and heart the pledge of allegiance that you confessed before the Lord. Remember the Cross and your heart will find the strength to face and overcome whatever difficult situation. For in the final analysis, if God is for us, who can be against us?