I think it’s safe to assume that everyone has been in situations where you have no control, some more significant than others. When we who are Christians find ourselves in such circumstances, we have a choice: we can succumb to fear, anxiety, worry, and the like–or we can pray in the Lord’s will and trust Him for the outcome, no matter what it may be. I will give two examples from my own life, but first, let’s look at some Bible verses having to do with trust.
One of the more well-known pair of verses about trust is Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” Notice especially the phrase “lean not on your own understanding;” in other words, we need wisdom, which the Lord invites us to ask Him for in James 1:5.
Here is another verse that I came across many years ago, tucked into the genealogies in 1 Chronicles 5:20; I’ll quote just the second sentence of it: “He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.” Even though the context is the Israelites’ asking the Lord for help in battle, I believe this applies to us as well. On the other hand, when we read the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3, we notice these important words in what they say to the king before they are thrown into the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:18): “But even if He does not [rescue us], we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Now there is trust! Those three young men knew that even if the Lord chose to let them die in the fiery furnace, they would be with Him in heaven. (As it turned out, they were not even harmed.)
Finally, here’s another verse that’s tucked away, this time in the book of Nahum. Chapter 1 verse 7 says: “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” Yes, the Lord is a refuge and takes care of those who trust Him!
Many years ago, when I was working in a Third World country, I got a letter from the head of a missions organization who wanted to visit me; he would be accompanied by an interpreter. (A little background: I was in the country partly under this organization’s auspices, but as an English teacher, not a missionary; this country did not even allow missionaries. However, we could talk to our students and others about the Lord, church, and the like if they raised such questions; that didn’t happen during class, but sometimes did when they visited me in my dorm room.) I replied that was fine, but that we should not meet on my college campus; the reason was that everyone would notice, and then I would have to explain to my college leaders who the visitors were.
When the visitors arrived in my city, it became apparent that our taxi was on the way to my college campus. I reminded them that we should not go there, but they brushed it off; they wanted to get a look at my surroundings and meet my fellow American teachers, who were also believers.
After my visitors left, my fellow believing friends and I prayed for protection because we all knew that I would be called in to meet with the college officials, and I was determined not to lie to them. Admittedly, the worst that could happen to me was that I would be kicked out of the country, but I had longer-term plans to teach there; my fellow believers would also then face “grilling.” Sure enough, a couple days later, I was called in, and after some pleasantries over tea, the conversation went like this:
- Official: Mr. Petersen, we noticed you had visitors recently. How do you know them?
- Me: One of them is a friend of my father’s.
- Official: And what does your father do?
- Me: He’s retired.
In case you’re wondering, yes, one of the visitors was someone my father knew, and yes, my father was retired; he had been a pastor. Notice they did not ask what my father had done before retirement, which would have also raised suspicion; much more significantly, they did not ask me what my visitors did for a living! You can imagine the celebration and praise to God that erupted when I told my believing friends what had happened!
There are other stories that I could tell about the Lord’s provision for me in that country as well, but let me illustrate with another situation that was out of my control in the U.S. One afternoon when my daughter (now 27) was in kindergarten, I got a confusing call from her; she sounded very happy, but she asked why I hadn’t picked her up; I asked her if she was in the school office, and she said that she was “playing with a girl.” To my horror, I realized that it was a minimum day, meaning she had gotten out of school an hour early. I asked my daughter where she and the other girl were, but she giggled, and when I asked her to put her friend or her friend’s mom on the phone, she hung up. Now I was really concerned because we did not have caller ID on our landline; if I had been thinking more clearly, I could have dialed *69. Anyway, as I got in the car, I thanked the Lord that my daughter had remembered our phone number and asked Him to help me find her. I figured she would be playing in a neighborhood near her school, and sure enough, it didn’t take long; I saw her, her friend, and a cop in a yard. (I’m not sure who called the cop; there was no other adult there.) My daughter laughed, said “Daddyyyy,” and ran into my arms, while the cop gently chewed me out a bit. You can imagine the praise to the Lord that erupted in my heart!
I can certainly recall other times when the Lord didn’t answer my prayer as I would have liked, but here’s another aspect of trust, perhaps the most fundamental one: I need to trust Him to always do what is best, even if I don’t understand it at the time; for me, this is the hardest part of trust, and I certainly don’t always do it immediately. However, there have been plenty of times where He has blessed me with understanding later; I have seen how much better the Lord’s plans are than mine. I believe He will do the same for you if you trust Him.