What on earth is trusting God

Yesterday was the eight year anniversary of my Dad’s remission from cancer. It was also a year and a week since a relapse scare. He had gone to his GP who had sent him straight to hospital where he was booked in instantly for a scan, as he appeared to have an enlarged spleen – a typical sign that your body is fighting a gigantic infection. So, for a week, I lived in a place of not knowing whether we were going to have to go through cancer again. And I don’t know how to describe it other than it really spun me out.

That week was one of the hardest weeks of my year. I think I cried every day. Living in that place where the enemy is right in your face and you don’t feel brave at all is exhausting and shattering. But it’s also a place where I gained some of the most profound revelations I’ve ever had. My Dad is fine, and it was a false alarm but I don’t see the emotional and cerebral energy spent that week as pointless. On the contrary, major wheat gets separated from major chaff when we live in those shadow valley places. And, as you can imagine, celebrating the seven-year remission anniversary last year was better than ever before.

One of the truths I got my head around that week was the concept of trusting God. I mean, what even is that? I’ve heard a lot of sermons in my Christian life about the importance of it, and have taken countless nuggets of advice from people that are along the lines of ‘just trust God in this situation and it’ll work out’ but practically I had no idea that week what it looked like to trust God. And I don’t think I ever had before either. It was essential to me that I could comprehend what it is to trust Him before we received any test results. As I played scenarios in my head where I lived out ‘trusting God’ I realised that in my situation, some could interpret ‘trust God’ as ‘believe that your Dad doesn’t have cancer again’. But the two are not synonymous and I had such a hard time with that! The thing is, God did not once tell or promise me that my Dad was not relapsing. So how could I put something like that on Him….if my Dad did have cancer again, then what?! Do I stop trusting God? I think the notion of ‘trust God’ has an implied second half: ‘…that it’ll be ok’. And often it is. But often it’s not, and we can’t allow ourselves to feel betrayed by God in those moments for ‘falling short’ of our expectations, or whatever it is. Though we must always believe for miracles, our trust cannot be contingent on our circumstances and their outcomes.

I realised in this horrendous week of hurting and fear that trusting God has far less to do with the potential outcome of our circumstances, and pretty much everything to do with who God is. His very nature is goodness and kindness and mercy and love. He literally is love! And so what I decided to ‘practically’ do in the way of trusting God was to shift my eyeview to Him. Because life isn’t always good. It just isn’t. Sometimes it is just bloody awful and filled with pain and uncertainty. But God, He is ALWAYS good. Do you see that? Life is not always good. God always is. The two notions can and do coexist. Trusting God, I believe, is the practical application of God’s character to Him in whatever season we’re in: knowing and believing and refusing to be deterred from the very fact of His goodness.

This way, my Dad could have relapsed cancer and I would still be able to trust God! No longer was I tied to a narrow view of ‘trusting’ God for doing something (although I totally believe in miracles and see them happen daily). I was trusting God to BE something: Him! And when we have this down, times of uncertainty and pain are….actually, still painful. Because life can be that. However, when we adopt this mindset of trusting the character of God we can go through those seasons of trials with a security and perspective. Because if a good God is for us and loves us, we can come to Him with confidence that He will sustain us, show us goodness, and be our constant in a world where things can instantly become uncertain.

The Voice Translation of Proverbs 3:5-6 is on a new level:
‘Place your trust in the Eternal; rely on Him completely;
    never depend upon your own ideas and inventions.
 Give Him the credit for everything you accomplish,
    and He will smooth out and straighten the road that lies ahead’
Trusting Him doesn’t mean that life will be good. It just won’t be. But when we let go of the five-year plans we have stowed away in the back of our minds and accept that the unexpected happens, we’re on our way to not being so disappointed with God and walking through life hand-in-hand with goodness and love. Which is just so much better than walking through with our hands in our pockets.

This year has been amazing and I couldn’t count the ways that my life has dramatically improved since I learned the importance of holding on unswervingly to the truth of the goodness of God. I see every day how He acts accordingly to His character and chucks love on us; both in the easy seasons and the impossibly hard ones. I’m grateful for how much good has come out of my Dad having cancer in the first place, even though it was the worst time of my life. And I’m so beyond grateful that my Jesus works everything together for good, that, on this one year anniversary of me learning how to trust Him I can look ahead to the multitude of uncertainties that I am facing and will face. I can accept that my life isn’t going to be easy or enjoyable all the time. But His goodness and kindness is certain, and there’s no rock I’d rather build my house on.

–         –         –
My Dad is even better at writing than me. Check his blog on last year’s ‘false alarm’ here.
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