I wonder if you have ever said about someone: ‘I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her’ or ‘I wouldn’t buy a second-hand car from him’? It’s so easy to have thought this, even if we’ve not spoken it out. We might not be sure why, but we just can’t be confident that what he or she says, or the actions that they promise to take, are to be relied on. We doubt they are truthful, or we are suspicious they have an agenda that benefits them and will not be good for us.
Most of us will know such feelings of mistrust. The feelings we have are very real, but a next step would be to ask whether our judgement is always valid. Could we sometimes be misjudging people? So, who should we trust and why might we find deciding who to trust difficult?
The scriptures tell us that Jesus trusted His disciples and the women who followed Him. He relied on them to provide for Him and He shared His heart with them. But He didn’t trust everybody, because He knew that not everyone is trustworthy (John 2:24 NLT). So how can we discern, like Jesus, who to trust and who is not to be trusted?
We start to learn about trust from our earliest days. As a baby we must rely on others: our life depends on it. God’s plan in putting a baby in a family is that we gradually develop an understanding that it is safe to trust. We can be honest about our needs, our fears, and our hopes, because those who love us are reliable and want the best for us. We also learn through the loving relationship with them how to assess who is similarly trustworthy and who is not.
What if those around us failed us, by abandoning us, habitually breaking promises, or continually letting you down
But what if it wasn’t safe in those early days? What if those around us failed us, by abandoning us, habitually breaking promises, or continually letting you down? Then a belief forms that no-one can be trusted, not even – perhaps especially – those who should be caring for us. This might become a belief that is reinforced by events in our life when friends betray us, work colleagues blame us or a spouse shatters our trust by deceiving us.
Our past sets the pattern for our ability to trust today.
Our past sets the pattern for our ability to trust today. Reliable and genuine people help us to discern who is worthy of our trust and to distinguish those who cannot be relied on. Unreliable people who may continually have made us feel unsafe, make it hard for us to dare to trust today. These are the realities that may have been in our past but that affect us very much in our present.
Sadly, without a measure of trust, it is hard to build real relationships, so we end up feeling alone and unsupported. Certainly, we can struggle to open our heart to someone in order to develop a deeper relationship with them.
We may even develop a mistrust of God and what He says. This can be a real hindrance to our ability to receive His life-giving words, for example: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3) and ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5) and ‘I have plans for you to give you a hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11). These are the truths that we desperately need to believe in in order to reassure us of Father God’s dependability and that His agenda for us is always for our good.
Trust develops like a muscle.
Trust develops like a muscle. We know we need to use a muscle to strengthen it; a muscle that is unused will waste away. A really good question to ask ourselves is this: Has my ability to trust wasted away?
If our answer is ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’, then we may need to start by facing the fact that we haven’t trusted God. He knows that if the people who should have been trustworthy in our lives, weren’t, then this can make it much harder to grow trust. He understands us and our problems, better than we do actually, but we need to ‘own’ any mistrust we may have harboured towards God because of that and we need to repent of such wrong belief. As we dare to choose to believe His words to us, our heart will be opened to receive His healing and restoration. We can take courage: He is on our side.
So, trusting God may begin to seem possible but what about trusting ordinary people? As we acknowledge the reasons why we find it hard to trust, the Holy Spirit can help us to discern who is trustworthy and we can start to grow trust, little by little.
A way of doing this could be to start by trusting someone that He points us to, someone He knows is trustworthy. This would then mean putting down our control and independence and starting to trust one person for something small. Maybe we could allow that person to see our need and let them help us, when previously we would not have been so open. Or perhaps we allow ourselves to rely on what another person says they will do, rather than taking control or making a ‘Plan B’, for when they fail. When we discover a person is reliable in a small thing, we can dare to trust that person for something bigger. Gradually we grow in the ability to trust others.
When we discover a person is reliable in a small thing, we can dare to trust that person for something bigger.
Of course, human beings may still let us down. There may be times when someone makes a genuine mistake or fails to fulfil a promise. But even then, it doesn’t have to destroy our choice to dare to trust again. However, if a person consistently proves themself untrustworthy then we need to cease to trust them. Jesus doesn’t ask us to trust the untrustworthy. The way forward is to be real and forgiving. We are all human; we fail and sometimes we too may let people down. It may be sobering to consider just how trustworthy we are ourselves.
Today is a good day to relook at the issue of trust, remembering that God is eternally trustworthy. He asks us to be wise in whom we trust and to be trustworthy people who seek to be more like Him each day.
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