The Bible writers understood that it is not always easy to depend upon the Lord when things look their worst. Because we have a tendency to look at the largeness of the problem, our God always is made smaller. It is one thing to trust God when everything is going well, but it’s quite a different matter to trust in Him when the situation is spiraling out of control. Human nature, being what it is, tries to convince itself that we are brave in the face of problems, but the reality is, most of us have doubts whether God is capable of handling the really big issues in our lives.
In the book of Proverbs we find these words of wisdom, “trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5, 6 These two verses reveal four important lessons that can help us a great deal when faced with discouragement.
The trust that allows God to work has two components. First, our trust must be in God and not in our own works and manipulations. Like Abraham, we might know that God is our strength and our shield, but all too often we think we need to prod Him along or add our own efforts to solve whatever issue we are dealing with. Whenever we do that, just like Abraham, we end up running ahead of God and the results can be a disaster. To go to God with prayer and cast all our troubles on Him and then wait on God to lead and guide us is to truly put our trust in the Lord. The second aspect of trust is from the heart. God calls on us to trust Him with every fiber of our being. Even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, great things can happen.
We have touched a little in the above paragraph on the idea of not relying “on our own insight.” I mentioned Abraham as one of the great spiritual inspirations of Scripture who ran ahead of God. Sarah was old and had not produced the child that God had promised, so Abraham decided, in his own wisdom, to take action. The result was he made Sarah’s handmaiden pregnant, with Sarah’s encouragement, and the result was the birth of Ishmael. Though Abraham loved the boy, he was not the child of promise. And after the promised child was eventually born, conflict sprang up between the descendants of these two children that still tears at our world to this day. Like Abraham, it is a real temptation to trust in our own wisdom and strength to make things happen, but real results only happen when we trust in God with all our heart.
“In all your ways acknowledge Him,” is to give God permission to direct and guide in our journey. It is to give Him the praise and worship that is due Him as He carries us over some of the dark spots and walks beside us in times of rejoicing. It is easy to cry out to God in our weakness, but it is also difficult to acknowledge the leading of God when things turn out for the best. Many times in my own life have I pled with God to lead me and show me what is best only to doubt God’s leading when He answers. I find myself asking, “did God really do that or am I only imagining what just happened?” We also have the tendency to give ourselves the credit instead of crediting God’s compassion and love when things turn out. Instead, let’s give God the glory in everything we encounter and acknowledge His Majesty and Grace in all that we are and all that we do. The Christian walk is to put God first and let His grace, His mercy and His love define our relationship.
The result of trusting God with all our hearts, and not relying on our own wisdom and works as well as acknowledging Him in all that we are is, “He will make straight your path.” God doesn’t say our path will be easy or difficulties will go away, He just reminds us if He is our trusted guide, then He will take us along the straight path. Many of us have been wandering aimlessly taking one side road after another only to find these detours end up in dead ends. Some of us have started the journey only to find it difficult and confusing and we’ve gotten lost on the path. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. God cries out to us, trust me with all your heart I won’t let you down. He says I know the way, let me lead you and let me take your hand and guide you over the rough spots. When darkness and discouragement are the deepest, acknowledge your need of God, stretch out your hand and feel His nail marked hand take yours. Trust God to know your journey because He knows the map of your life oh so well. He will never hurt you or abandon you on your spiritual journey. His love is poured out to you in all that He is. And when you feel His hand, those great nail scarred hands in yours, you can know He is Love.