Faith is believing in the things unseen, that there is a Higher Power that designed this world and everything in it (Heb. 11:1-3). Faith is believing that God has a plan for His creation, a plan for you, and that we have all we need for our salvation: Christ. I liken faith as the sustenance of a mother’s milk for a newborn. It is designed to give the newborn all the nutrients it needs not only to sustain it but to grow and protect it. However, eventually the baby will need more than milk to continue to thrive. It will need solid food and, in good time, meat. Meat in this metaphor is trust. Now, an infant will outgrow this need of its mother’s milk…but we will never outgrow the purpose of our faith and the necessity of our trust in God.
There is no one way to describe the relationship between faith and trust; it is as complex as its author (Heb. 12:2). Faith is obviously the foundation of trust. If one did not believe God is, there would be nothing in which to trust. However, if one were to graph these confidences as if they were functions, they would not behave as nicely as an exponential function in which the input grows quickly in a positive curve. I think most of us could say that our lives do not resemble a simple algorithm. Our life’s journey is full of ups and downs, twists and turns. It would be more accurate to describe them using a piecewise function, a graph built by different functions over different intervals. The result is that, looking from left to right, your graph may be level, then slant upward steeply before plateauing right before it nose dives, only to curve back up again. Moreover, it’s not fair to describe our lives as two dimensional, seeing as there are at least three variables (God, you, and everyone else) over time. Your relationship with God is personal. His plans for you are tailored to your needs and what He expects from you. So everyone’s graph would be unique, like a thumbprint or the pattern of flecks on an African penguin’s chest at the zoo.
Hebrews 11 goes into detail about how the forefathers, along with Sarah and Rahab, benefited from their faith. Each of them had their own sets of events and rewards. While different, there exists a common denominator: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). To me, the latter part of this verse represents trust. These people did not have a little faith. They had enough faith that they trusted God completely. The reason why is because they diligently sought Him. These individuals did not have easy lives. It is a testament that God does not promise that life will be without hardships.
Yet there are those who reason that because they believe in God, bad things won’t happen. They may go for a while before something bad does happen. When that happens, it damages their trust and shakes their faith. My recent experiences through this pandemic have taught me that my trust needed some improvement. There was no issue with my faith. I thought there was no issue with my trust either. Faith and trust are personal, between you and God. That is not to say that we aren’t influenced by others. We should be influenced by others. That’s one reason why God established the church. It is why we are instructed to teach our children in the way they should go. If I died today, I would be confident in where I am going. What terrified me were these thoughts. What if my husband and I died? What would happen to the boys? Would they grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord? What would life be like for them? Would they make it to heaven? It worried me and I realized that this was a test which I had failed. How can I trust God’s plans for me but not for my sons?
Like a good Texan, I grabbed this by the horns and dealt with it head on. After I recognized my struggle, I prayed about it. I admitted it to God, asked for His help, and trusted that He would give me what I needed. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask for when you pray, believe that you will receive them, and you will have them” (Mk. 11:24). To believe you will receive, to trust and not doubt it…this makes all the difference in prayer.
We were having a family Bible study. I was following along while my husband read, “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he hasks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:9-11). My head snapped up. I can’t count the number of times I have read that, but it took on a deeper meaning in the midst of my struggle. The Lord does not want anyone to perish (2 Pet. 3:9). Knowing the desires of my heart and that He wants my children to come to Him as much as I do, why should I fear for my sons’ future if something happened to us?
Faith gives us a reason to hope while trust allows us to know that our hope is not in vain. Understand that everything happens for a reason. If we keep seeking God, sometimes you will figure out why. You can look back and connect the dots. Sometimes it will remain a mystery. It is in these times of mystery when our trust must be the strongest. If you, like me, get confused, then turn towards God rather than away from Him. If you discover you have a stone in the soil of your heart, do whatever it takes to dig it out. Pray, dig into God’s Word, and ask fellow Christians for advice.
When I was struggling with my trust, I supplemented with my faith. I returned to what I know is true: the power of prayer and God’s Word.