My one word for 2019 was TRUST. If you want to know what the ‘one word’ concept is, check out my last post, One Word. It’s the one word you want to focus on for a year to bring growth and clarity in your life.
I chose trust as my one word for 2019. Why? Because I had a lot of worries, a lot of things I needed to trust God with, both good and bad. Good things like my dream of getting published – would it happen in 2019, and if it did, would it go well? Bad things like anxieties over financial pressures and career frustrations. All of this was stuff I needed to worry about less, and trust God with more.
After a year of focusing on this one word, here’s what I learned about trust…
I’ve learned that trust is about character, not circumstances; that trust is an anchor; that trust improves perspective; that trust prevents waiting being wasted; that trust affirms who God is; that trust brings peace; and that trust is a work in progress.
Trust is about character, not circumstances
A year spent focusing on trust did not mean an easy year for me. Trusting God did not mean that bad things didn’t happen. This is a fallen world and won’t be perfect until Christ returns. The car broke down, the baby didn’t sleep, illness struck, work demands didn’t relent, and difficult relationships and conversations came along. Plenty went wrong in 2019. Gradually it dawned on me as the year went by: me trusting God was never about preventing these things, it was about changing my reaction to them. Trusting God doesn’t spare you adversity, but it does equip you to face it. Trust doesn’t control circumstances, but it does deepen and strengthen your character.
Trust is an anchor
If worries are the waves, then trust is the anchor. As it says in James 1:6-8, doubts are like the waves of the sea and like the wind that blows and tosses us around. That leads to instability and missing out on what God has for us. Instead, we’re called to believe and trust in the One we look to. Plenty of things in life will come along to knock you off track, and if you let them, they will carry you along at their own pace. But trust serves like an anchor to keep tied to where we need to be. An anchored ship is safe in the storms of life, but without an anchor you’ll end up ship-wrecked or marooned in some desolate place you never meant to go.
Worries about health, money, relationships, politics and so on will always come. The world is addicted to worry because for millennia we’ve believed the lie that God isn’t in control and that by worrying we can change things. Jesus exposed this lie in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:27), but so many of us still fall for it. I’m not saying I didn’t worry this year – of course I did – but every time I found myself worrying, trust was the anchor that brought me back to God-centred thinking.
Trust improves perspective
I’ve learned that trust improves perspective. What I mean is that when we don’t trust, we tend to focus on the problems. We rely on our own view of things or only ever take things at face value. But trust helps you see things differently. It reminds you of when God came through for you in the past. It shows you that things aren’t actually half as bad as they seem. It elevates your mindset. When you look at how big God is, you realise how small your problems really are.
Trust prevents waiting being wasted
We all have to wait for the things we want, but that doesn’t mean the waiting has to be wasted. There’s purpose in the waiting that we can miss out on if we’re not trusting God with it. He makes us wait for a reason, and has work to do in us while we wait. By trusting His timing we can embrace the waiting and let Him position us and prepare for us what comes next. By not trusting we’ll spend all our time worrying about missing out, and perhaps prolong the waiting more than it needs to be.
Trust affirms who God is
Trust is only as good as what you’re placing it in, and your degree of faith in it. When we trust God, we’re essentially saying to Him, ‘You’ve got this.’ ‘I believe You are who You say You are.’ When we don’t trust, we’re pretty much saying the opposite. ‘I don’t believe You can do this.’ ‘I think I can do it better on my own.’ If God says He’s in control and has a plan for our lives, and we respond with mistrust, we make Him out to be a liar. A God you can’t trust is no God at all. But when we take Him at His word and trust Him, we affirm who He is. It not only builds us up, but serves as a powerful witness for others. A God who is trusted is a God that others take notice of.
Trust births peace
The result of trusting God is peace in our lives. Not peace as in the absence of conflict, but peace in spite of conflict. No matter what storms are raging in life or falling apart around you, you can know a peace that transcends all understanding. That’s what the apostle Paul promises in Philippians 4:6-7. But how does he premise that promise? With trust.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
He’s talking about trust. Sure there’s a good helping of thankfulness and perseverance too, but this boils down to trust. Trust means taking our anxieties and turning them into prayers. Prayers are expressions of trust. We’re struggling, we don’t have the answers, but we trust God to take care of it. How refreshing, what a relief, to be able to let go, unclench and relax, knowing that it’s not all down to us. That kind of peace is impossible when you’re relying on yourself. Peace or pressure, that’s the choice.
We’ve already seen from James that the result of not trusting is being blown about by the winds and waves – not just a recipe for sea-sickness in life but also a sure fire way to live without peace and forfeiting the wisdom of God that’s on offer. It’s not always easy to trust, but we always benefit when we trust.
Trust is a work in progress
Finally, and I finish with this, I’ve learnt that trust is a work in progress. All I’ve done is learned to trust God just a little bit more. I’d already been on an undulating trajectory of gradually trusting Him more, but in 2019 I took more steps higher up that road. This year, I hope to go a little further, trust a little deeper. I don’t trust God fully, unreservedly, 100%. Do you? Does anyone? Only Jesus ever trusted perfectly. It’s ok to accept that we won’t trust perfectly until we get to heaven. What matters is that we keeping walking the road towards that destination, gradually handing over more of the things that we stubbornly try to keep control over.
Trust is a lifetime of baby-steps. But you know what? Those baby-steps can transform your life.