In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus argues that we can trust one of two things: God or money. "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one or love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money," (6:24). I've written two essays recently, where I readily admit my inability to name the degree to which I trust money as a source of security and happiness. By God's grace, we are amply supplied and have been for the bulk of our growing up and marriage. So it has not yet been my opportunity to learn, with Paul, the true secret of contentment. This apprenticeship would demand scarcity and lack.
But similarly, it may well be that our trust in God can only be measured when we go without - when prayers find no visible answer, when God seems distant, when everyday faith feels more like best guess than real certainty. We learn to trust God when the circumstances provide no real evidence of his trustworthiness. Like the saints in the 11th chapter of Hebrews, we know we've got the goods (that is, of faith and substantive trust) when we go without - and yet remain confident in God. "They did not receive what was promised," the writer of Hebrews concludes, describing how their faith was, in many cases, an act of anticipation.
So do I trust God? The most valid measure may be when God delays and the immediacy of my needs are not met immediately, when I pray and continue praying without visible and miraculous intervention from the heavens.
Do I trust God when I want and am obliged to wait?
Here are some qualities that I think are true of trust:
Peace. The confident reassurance that God is in control.
Joy. The ready delight to see God’s plan unfold.
Patience. The ability to wait on God.
Surrender. The willingness to lay down demands.
Love. The affection that grows in the anticipation of God’s provision and protection.
Obedience. The commitment to do what God asks—even when it doesn’t make sense.
Confidence. The abiding sense that God’s plans are good and wise.
Boldness. The lion-hearted faith that risks.
May we each learn this trust and with Paul, confidently affirm:
"And my God will supply every need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus," Philippians 4:19