Trials of Trust

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How many times have you said “I trust You” to God in prayer, and yet felt unsure of what you were saying? How often do we as Catholics profess unwavering confidence in Our Lord one moment, and then start worrying over the struggles, sorrows, and strife of our daily lives the very next minute?

Our union with God, founded on His love, is a living relationship that is constantly growing. But love requires trust, which many find difficult to actually live out. After all, it feels so much better to do things ourselves. But trusting in God involves acknowledging a lack in ourselves that only He can fill. It is through opening ourselves to that love, breaking free from our self-confidence, that we can finally pray “Thy will be done” with deep and genuine trust.

God loves each of us deeply, personally, perfectly…but what is our response to this love? If we want to love God as His love invites us, we must first acknowledge the imperfection of our love. In fact, everywhere we look in our lives—from our personal habits, to our desires and fears, to our daily situations in life—we find ourselves lacking in some way. Whether through our choices and judgments, or through no fault of our own, those imperfections exist. We’ve got to face facts: we are not just less than perfect, but greatly imperfect. Can we fix it? Can we switch gears and adjust ourselves to attain a perfect life? While we all certainly can make changes for the better, many such switches require strength and grace we simply do not have of ourselves, and other changes we wish for are completely out of our control. In other words, we are in need—desperately so. And when we are in need, the most natural thing in the world is to turn to someone a) who can fill that need, who is b) a person we can trust. Who better to turn to than the God Who made us and loves us! Yet, even if we believe with every ounce of our being that God can fill all our needs, do we really trust Him? Do we really place our confidence in Him, as He invites us?

There are times that this invitation to trust sounds like an unfair request of God. It can feel one-sided, as if God is demanding our trust by His authority, without reciprocating in any way. Perhaps we forget at times that trust is mutual. In reality, we need to trust God, not just because He created us and knows what is best for us and loves us so perfectly, but because God truly trusts us. Love is not possible unless both lovers are truly free to love. If either be compelled, neither trusting the other, the love is merely a farce. God did not want to create human persons to puppet imitations of love: He wanted the real thing.

Yet, in order to get the real thing, God in His goodness granted to mankind a share in His own freedom, which we call the gift of free will. With this gift, man could run from God and turn to lesser things, or he could return God’s love with his own human love. And because man is free, his choice to love God is perfectly free and is a true act of love. This true love is only possible because God granted to mankind their own free will, trusting the likes of us to use our freedom as we choose and not forcing us one way or another. God does not ask of us more than He gives: we can trust Him because He first trusted us with the total freedom inherent to our free will, just as “we love, because He first loved us.”[1]

Yet after the Fall, the first of countless choices that man would make in the deepest misuse of his free will, did God give up on mankind? No! Not only did He still bestow the gift of free will to each and every human being, but He also promised to entrust to the likes of men His only-begotten Son. God so desires the depth of a personal relationship with every human being—you and me—that He sent His own Son into the World as the Word made Flesh. And how did Jesus come? As a tiny baby, unable to do anything for Himself, in the very same desperate need as you and I experienced when we entered the world. God, Who created all things, entrusted the very life of His Son into human hands. What greater trust can there be than this? For a creature to turn to His Creator and trust Him in his need is one level of trust, but God emerges in the Flesh, bursting all our expectations, as He places His own trust in His creatures! God so desired our love that He chose to humble Himself, so that He literally needed human love. God’s Love for us is so deep and total that He could do no less than trust us, that we might trust Him.

God’s trust in men led Christ to the cross—our trust in Him may do the same. But it is the cross that opened the floodgates of God’s merciful Love. It is the very crosses of our daily struggles and strife that will release the graces of God’s love in a deep, close, and personal way. The question is: Are we ready to say to God, with genuine trust, “Thy will be done”? As we wrestle with this ultimate question of trust, we must remind ourselves that the goal and purpose of trusting in God is to love God as He has first loved us. We must recall that “this love He bestowed on us in absolute freedom.”[2] He did not need to love us: it was the total gift of His free choice. We in turn are then free to choose to trust in God’s goodness; but trusting Him does not mean mere sacrifice, but draws us to the doorway of Love.

“The sentence ‘Not as I will, but as Thou wilt,’ ultimately means ‘may Thy love prevail’.”[3] Trusting us first by bestowing free will upon all men and then sending His Son into the world, God invites us to trust in Him. How will we respond?

[1] The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, (1 John 4:19), National Council of the Churches of Christ, 1971, accessed 11 January, 2016, https://www.biblegateway.com.

[2] Romano Guardini, The Art of Praying: The Principles and Methods of Christian Prayer (Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 1957), 70.

[3] Guardini, The Art of Praying, 70.

Marissa Standage

Marissa Standage

Marissa Standage is simultaneously studying at Holy Apostles College and Seminary and Angelicum Academy to earn her bachelor's degree in philosophy and theology, and also loves her teaching post at Highlands Latin School of Pasadena. As the oldest of six, Marissa was home schooled right through high school, and has enjoyed a deep love for the Catholic faith, family, and education based on Socratic discussion. Between her college work and teaching, her favorite past-times include spending time with her family and friends, writing epic fantasy stories, reading, baking sourdough bread (and all kinds of other sourdough goodies from chocolate cake to crackers), and knitting socks. In the midst of this full and wonderful life, she is striving to discern God's plan for her in this world, and to cultivate the virtues in the daily opportunities to grow in His love.

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