What does it mean to trust God?


I love this rainbow. It reminds me that God is watching, even when it was stormy.

A simple, straightforward question in a workbook, but I was at an emotional low point. What does it mean to trust God? I know I ought to. I like to think I do. I’ve advocated trusting God in lots of blog posts. But as I say, the question caught me at an emotional low point. I didn’t have a quick answer.

After some thought, I figured it means not to second guess God, not to doubt, not to fall into unbelief. But that’s all negative. Trust is surely more than not doing certain things. It must have a positive value of its own. So I thought some more and decided that trusting God means acting on his word regardless of feelings and despite how things look. That’s certainly better, but not satisfying.

Regular readers might recognize that I post to this blog every Tuesday, except I have missed two weeks in the last month. My father’s death accounts for one, and a bout with bronchitis for the other. And in order to keep the lingering effects of that illness from killing off a third week, I have to get working. So I confess that I am writing this the day after faced that workbook question.

A Psalm verse

This morning I looked for a more satisfactory answer in a way that should prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am indeed a complete nerd. I looked up all of the words in Psalm 37:3 in my interlinear Bible so I could look them all up in Strong’s concordance. And here I am simply writing the results of one day’s study.

Actually, the chapter the workbook is based on referred mostly to Psalm 37:4 in the King James: “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” It’s a familiar verse, but but I never remember noticing the word “also.” The author of the book lays great stress on it. That word implies that delighting myself in the Lord is a commandment in addition to what comes before.

By the way, It’s treacherously easy to misread and misappropriate that verse. It doesn’t promise that God will give you anything your little old heart wants as if he were some kind of celestial Santa Claus. No, the promise is that he will give you the desires. You will come to desire the things God wants you to desire. A bunch of the junk that’s already there will fall by the wayside, and you’ll never miss it. But there’s a condition: delight also, or delight in addition to the previous commandment.

So the previous verse says, “Trust in the Lord and do good, so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily shalt thou be fed.” That’s another very familiar verse that looks very different in King James English. I decided to look up the words in order to come up with my own translation.

A simple word study

Eight different Hebrew words are translated “trust” in the King James, the language Strong’s Concordance is based on. A thorough answer to the question of what is trust would require looking at all of them. The one in Psalm 37:3 is Strong 982: “to hie for refuge; figuratively to trust, to be confident or sure.”

“Hie” is a quaint word now, but the meaning is clear enough. When we’re in trouble, where to we go? Functionally, where we go in trouble is where we trust we will find refuge. Think of a hurricane. Some people stay in their homes, trusting that they’ll be safe there. Some people flee the area and seek high ground. Some leave their homes and seek local shelter. The Superdome turned out to be a very bad refuge from Hurricane Katrina.

The psalm tells us to make God our refuge. It doesn’t matter if the trouble is a natural catastrophe that requires seeking physical shelter or something much less newsworthy. Trusting God means running to him when things get bad.

In case anyone cares about the translation I came up with, it’s “Go to the Lord for refuge and do good in order to reside on the earth and graze securely under the watchful eye of the Good Shepherd.”

The workbook, by the way, accompanies Intensive Faith Therapy by Vanessa Collins, which I strongly recommend.

Photo credit: © Copyright Miss Steel and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.


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