Can What You Trust Be Trusted?

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Some 35 years ago, I was at a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA with my pastor. He had been called there by church members who were facing tragedy. I happened to be at his house when he received the call. I was there to collect him and his wife to take them to the airport to begin their holiday in Florida. He asked me to accompany him to the hospital instead. It would prove to be a life-impacting experience.

As we arrived, we went to the waiting room where two couples from our church were grieving. The tragedy intimately affected both couples as they shared a familial connection.

As we entered the room, I noted to my right one of the couples who was crying and yet calm. Their countenance was a mixture of both sorrow and calm serenity. All these years later, it remains fixed in my mind. The other couple, particularly the wife, was grieving uncontrollably, even inconsolably. Her husband seemed both frustrated with and by her. She was questioning, actually blaming, God. The responses were glaringly diverse. But there was another difference, which contributed to the varied responses. The calmly grieving couple lived a very modest lifestyle, with little by way of material possessions. For years, I had observed their love for the Lord and his church. They struck me as believers who sincerely trusted the Lord. The man had served as a pastor for several years in small and struggling churches. He experienced little by way of “success.”

The other man, whom I had known since I was a toddler, had been a key leader in the church and a gifted teacher. But over time he and his wife’s church life had become increasingly pushed to the peripheral as their financial success increased. The Lord was not as central as he had been to them. They were less than happy worshippers. For both couples, what they were trusting in was being tested. Their contrasting responses reflected years of choices and decisions about where and in what and in whom they would put their trust.

After some time sitting and speaking with them, my pastor prayed with them and we left. As we drove away from the hospital he said, reflectively, “Be sure that what you place your trust in is able to get you through your darkest hour.” Be sure, indeed.

The past eleven months have put our trust to the test. For many, this test has been severe. Loved ones have fallen ill and some have succumbed to death. For others, incomes have been lost or greatly reduced. Others have seen their plans and pursuits come to a grinding halt. In these and other scenarios, God has been testing our trust. Specifically, he has tested, and he continues to test, the object of our trust. We might liken it to a “stress test.” That is, can what we are leaning on get us through our trial?

Money and material goods are susceptible to moths that eat and rust that decays (Matthew 6:19–21). Careers come and go. And as precious as family and friends are, those relationships cannot sustain us. After all, these people are as fallen, flawed, and fading as are we. No, our only sure and steadfast and able Rock is the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:2). As Hannah learned in her time of trial, “There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2).

When will this current trial come to an end? Who knows? Well, God knows and, apparently, he’s not telling. What he is doing is testing. He is testing our trust. He is testing the object of our trust. He is helping us to place our full trust in him. Family, friends, and finances are a blessing. Hobbies, houses, and health are gifts from God. But as a source of ultimate and happiness, they will fail. If we lean on these, they won’t be able to support the weight of our burden. Only God can. And he wants to. So, put your trust in him alone.

Leaning on the Lord with you,

Doug