Is it irresponsible to trust God too much?

iStock 000005012679XSmall Is it irresponsible to trust God too much?Last week I was all inspired about the idea of placing full trust in God, and I shared a story about a missionary who learned to trust God in all things, down to getting a cake for a Bible study event. In response there were quite a number of corrective comments that raised interesting questions about what trusting God should look like. Some excerpts:

Magnificat said: It’s typical feel-good story and it makes me feel uneasy. Trusting God is something much, much more serious. These sweet stories may help little children; to others, they are almost (maybe it’s to harsh word, but I can’t help myself) idiotic.

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Rosemary said: I am very glad there are thoughtful comments on this topic, and that not everyone is being carried away with emotional enthusiasm…I’m uneasy with the way people can subtly pressure one another into greater and greater acts of imprudence, out of a desire to be/feel (seem?) more holy.

One could find oneself starting to make one’s decisions based on what would be a good story for one’s friends or one’s blog readers rather than what would make a better life for oneself and one’s family…It’s making that marshmallow-soft thrill of a “trusting feeling” into an idol.

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Honeybee said: Feel-good stories like these leave me feeling uneasy. There are all kinds of problems with this, not the least of which is the slippery slope of the “name it and claim it” bunch. What if the cake hadn’t arrived? I need trust and faith the most for those times, the hard times, the times when I’m feeling desolate and abandoned by God. Cake is nice, but I need to know and learn more deeply how to trust in suffering.

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Young Mom said: All this mentality did for me growing up, was to teach me to “shut up and trust God” shut up about abuse, shut up about dreams, shut up about everything and just believe that God will take care of it all. Well, he didn’t. I also have a hard time with the “god sent me a chocolate cake because I trust him so much” when people begging for their baby to survive the NICU get ignored.

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Michelle said: God can be bothered to send people cakes for tea parties, but can’t be bothered to stop natural disasters that kill thousands of people?

The discussion got me thinking about what the proper role of trust is in the Christian life. I’ve been mulling over thoughts like:

Surely authentic trust in God doesn’t mean that we should take no action ourselves…but does that mean we should always plan to do everything by our own powers?

When is it appropriate to do the work with our own capacities, and when is the time to sit back and let the Lord provide?

We know it’s inappropriate and insulting to approach the Lord with a “name it and claim it” attitude where we tell him our desires and expect him to jump to attention and make them materialize. But what, then, should we ask him for?

Obviously we’re not supposed to assume that God’s goal is to make us rich and comfortable, but does he never smooth the way to make things a little easier for us?

How could someone believe that the Lord will provide cake for a tea when he didn’t provide shelter and safety for the earthquake/tsunami victims in Japan?

I’ve read enough stories of God providing in near-miraculous ways for people who place radical trust in him that I believe that there’s something going on there. I believe that we can rely on God as a living, active force in our lives and count on him to provide for both large and small needs. I’ve seen it in my own life. But what, then, about all those questions?

I don’t have all the answers, but my initial thought is that appropriate trust in God hinges on having a proper understanding the following three things:

  1. Who God is
  2. What God wants
  3. What the meaning of life is

Who God is:
He’s not a wish-granting genie. He’s not a concierge. He’s not a living magic wand for us to wield to change the world according to our liking. He’s our heavenly Father, and he is perfect and all-knowing — in other words, his ideas are better than ours, and he knows what’s best for us more than we do. We can get way off track of we start to forget this.

What God wants:
I’ve heard many amazing stories of divine providence at work in people’s lives, and one common thread is that people who experience a lot of this crazy miraculous stuff live their lives according to what God wants, not what they want. I wrote about this more here, but these people spend a lot of time asking: “Lord, what do you want me to pray for?”

So, to use the example of the cake for the Bible study tea, I do believe that that was God at work, but I don’t believe that the cake appeared because the missionaries were in the mood for something sweet. Each day they spent hours in prayer seeking the Lord’s guidance. The idea to host the event didn’t come from their personal whims, but rather was an idea the Holy Spirit gave them in prayer — thus it’s no surprise that all the details just so happened to work out.

What the meaning of life is:
I think this is where it’s easiest for us Americans to go wrong, and where many “health and wealth gospel” proponent have gone wrong. Surrounded by incomparable wealth, luxury and access to medical care, it’s easy to start to think of our lives here on earth as our eternal destinations. The natural human inclination is to make the overarching goal of our lives to have the longest, healthiest, most comfortable life here on earth as possible. But that’s not how the saints have seen it, and it’s not how God sees it. Not that God wants us to suffer — suffering and death wasn’t even part of the world he originally planned for us — but, in a heaven-centered worldview, suffering is not the worst evil. Sin is.

And that’s another thing I’ve noticed about people who seem to have radical but healthy trust in God: they accept this. They trust that God will pave the way for them to get themselves and others on a path to heaven, and know that sometimes it will involve sending cake for a tea party…and other times it might involve suffering, or even an early death. But when they compare that prospect to an eternity of ecstatic peace, it doesn’t seem like such a bad proposition.

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So when I ponder placing radical trust in God in my own life, I think of deepening my understanding of those three concepts as part of the package, an absolute requirement for striking the balance between prudence and abandonment to God. But what do you think? What is the proper role of trust in the Christian life? Is it possible to trust God too much?

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120 Responses to “Is it irresponsible to trust God too much?”
  1. Rachel says:

    I don’t think so. My philosophy is that I trust God completely, realizing that I may not get what I want, and trusting that what I get is what He wants for me. In the meantime, I try to walk in holiness and make each decision based on His wisdom. If they didn’t get the cake, do you think they would have loved God less? I don’t. It is just a story to show how great God’s provision can be.

    I have spent the last year trusting God to find my husband a job – something I have very little control over. So far, he has not. I am still looking to God with complete trust. Today is his first day at a temp job that could provide us with daily bread for awhile. When something permanent comes along, I will be very pleased with God’s provision. And when he slips me a 20 from a stranger in the grocery store, well, I am very pleased with that, too. It doesn’t mean we should make bad decisions, but we should also be very aware of God’s voice.

    Jesus called Peter to walk on water. That doesn’t mean that I should walk on water, that would be stupid. But if the Lord calls me to do something crazy (like, say, convert to Catholicism, for example, or have another child), I will do it.
    Rachel recently posted..Making Blue

  2. bearing says:

    I generally think the admonition to “trust God” means two things that really do apply to everyone, and that it’s impossible to “trust God” too much with respect to these things.

    (1) Don’t fall into the error of thinking that your circumstances, however difficult they may be, mean you have to do something that’s objectively wrong. Trust that God’s *laws* can be obeyed even in difficult circumstances.

    (2) Be not afraid. Don’t be anxious, because it will all be worked out in the end — the long end, that is — the end of time.

    Beyond that, you risk getting into providentialism and prosperity-gospel. “Trust God” doesn’t mean, can’t mean, that God will send *material* goods of any kind (even chocolate cake). We will have enough to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling, because He is working in us, and He is enough.

    Gotta be careful — are you really placing your trust *in God,* or *in the material things that you hope He will provide for you*? Not the same!

  3. Jessica says:

    I think you make a really good point, that trusting in God isn’t about trusting Him to give us what WE want. So in the cake example, it wasn’t that they said, “Hm, Lord, we’d really like a cake right now.” It was that God put them in a situation, gave them a calling, and then forced them to trust him to provide for what He had called them to do. It reminds me of many Bible stories, such as God calling Moses to lead the people, and Moses saying, “Me? I’m not a good person for that job” as if he was supposed to make it happen of his own accord. Trusting God is trusting that if He calls us, He’ll equip us.

    Thanks as always for your thoughtful and challenging posts!
    Jessica recently posted..Balancing Companionship and Autonomy or Why I Dont Tell My Husband How to Do the Dishes

  4. Sierra says:

    I think there is a huge difference between trusting in the Lord and tempting Him.
    Sierra recently posted..Birth Story from Michelle

  5. Emily (a.k.a. Smoochagator) says:

    Kudos to you for responding to those thought-provoking comments by thinking! I know it’s frustrating when you get all excited about something and then feel like nobody “gets” it (or perhaps you were the one who didn’t “get” it). This is especially difficult when I get excited about something spiritual only to be corrected. I feel like someone has just squished me like a bug. There is some real wisdom in this post. I can’t hope to explain why God sent Brother Andrew a cake for tea but why some parents’ prayers for their sick children go unanswered – none of us, I think, will EVER “get” that one while we’re still on this side of heaven – but I think you’re on to something here. The focus should always be on God, not on things, circumstances, signs, trials.

    • Chere says:

      I don’t think we as human beings can ever completely understand God’s plan and how it involves us. I don’t believe that God refrains from answering the prayers of the parents whose baby is in the NICU–I believe His answer is not necessarily healing for the baby at this moment. I’ve had similar situations in my life and assumed God had not answered my prayers because what I wanted didn’t occur. Over time I’ve come to realize that, rather than dictating to God, I need to pray for acceptance of His will and use the grace He provides for me in support from friends, etc. to make peace with His plan.

  6. Nicely done. I would add a fourth to your list, though: what our calling is. Many of these people who showed radical trust in God were not demonstrating the mechanics of how each of us should live, but demonstrating how fully each of us should follow our calling from God.

    Consider George Mueller: his orphanage was run on the principle of never asking anyone for anything, merely trusting God to provide. That was in response to a very specific calling Mueller received from God. It does not mean that other orphanages should not fundraise; it does mean that every person called to run an orphanage should do so wholeheartedly and fearlessly. The point is not to wait for a chocolate cake to arrive; the point is to determine what your calling is – whether raising kids or taking bibles to countries that lack religious liberty – and trusting that God will enable you to perform it.

  7. majellamom says:

    This post made me think of a quote that I’ve heard (it looks like it might be from St. Augustine, but I didn’t spend a lot of time verifying that!)

    “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”

    Not that I am particularly good at either side of that equation, but I think it is a fair point – prayer is vitally important, but not to the exclusion of work. If you have the capability to work, it makes sense to do the work AND pray.
    majellamom recently posted..Small Successes

    • deanna says:

      I totally agree with you and St. Augustine on this trust issue. God did not give us an intellect or faith and then expect us to not use those gifts.
      deanna recently posted..This That and the Other Thing- Sunday Snippets-A Catholic Carnival

    • magda says:

      St. Ignatius said that and according to primary sources it is “Pray as if everything depended on you and work as if everything depended on God.”
      He actually does the work. Like a gardener with a shovel. Or a violinist with a violin. Or a chef with an oven. Or a doctor with a stethoscope. Prayer keeps one from listening to the wrong inspirations. And provides the strength to go on.

  8. Erin says:

    Right on, Jen!

    “So, to use the example of the cake for the Bible study tea, I do believe that that was God at work, but I don’t believe that the cake appeared because the missionaries were in the mood for something sweet. Each day they spent hours in prayer seeking the Lord’s guidance. The idea to host the event didn’t come from their personal whims, but rather was an idea the Holy Spirit gave them in prayer — thus it’s no surprise that all the details just so happened to work out.”

    That is exactly how I read your first comment. I have seen God move mountains like that in my own life to give me little things that I desire, but only the things that will build my faith, help me bring glory to Him, and bring about my eternal salvation or that of others around me.

    God’s ways are not our ways. In regards to the comment by Michelle. Who knows what was going on in Japan. Maybe no one was praying, maybe it was time for those people to die (God will call us all home one day) or maybe it had an even greater purpose of changing the hearts or bringing about the salvation of the people of Japan and around the world. Let’s not forget the role each individual’s free will plays as well. I have no idea, but I am not God and if I trust in anything, it’s that God has plan and He is not required to share it with me or consult me. I’m certainly not trying to be incensitive to the sufferings of those in Japan. Compassion is what moves us to love and serve others, which is what God calls us to do, but judging and blaming God, well that can be treading on a slippery slope. There’s a bigger picture that we just can’t see or understand. There’s a book, someone help me out, it’s called: the value of suffering or something like that. It was based on research done on the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps.

    Anyway, God Bless and thanks Jen. Gotta get back to the children. I was interrupted no less than 10 times while writing this. Hope it’s coherent.

    • Michelle says:

      I just cannot – and refuse to – believe in a God who would allow such incredible disasters to happen to his creation. It’s unfathomably horrible to me to say anything along the lines of “it was time for those people to die” or that it was an attempt at saving people’s souls. If another human being killed thousands of people and ruined the lives and families and homes of thousands more, we would be appalled. We would never say that it was maybe time for those people to die, or that it was to test our faith. So how come, when this is the result of a natural disaster, believers are fine with writing it off as part of God’s will?

      • Erin says:

        Because we have the HOpe of eternal life and believe that our true home is God’s kingdom in heaven.

        There is a tremendous amount of peace in that.
        Erin recently posted..To Dye or Not to Dye

      • Barbara says:

        I don’t know whether it was “time” for those people to die, but was it God who placed those people in danger? Who put the nuclear reactors there?

        I like what Father Robert Barron says his Word On Fire website about the disaster: that God set creation in motion, and the same acts that benefit us, can also bring disaster. In nature, the rain that nutures the soil, can also bring floods. In terms of humanity, Barron uses free will as an example, saying that free will, giving us the ability to love God freely, also allows us to reject God. But for God the greater good, is to be able to love God freely, and not be mere robots.

        People choose to live near oceans, and for the most part, it is benign. Cities are built, and rebuilt over fault lines. Countries build reactors, and they have been a reliable source of power. But at the same time, those choices have the ability to destroy. How can we then ask how God allows earthquakes, and tsunamis to happen?

        I hope I did Father Barron’s commentary justice, because it helped me understand how it fits together a bit better. But there will always be questions….

        • Michelle says:

          It’s not just the nuclear reactors – that was a very stupid human decision, and we have no one but ourselves to blame. But if there is a God, why did he allow the earthquake and tsunami to happen at all, given that there were so many people living there? Wouldn’t it be easy enough for an all-powerful, loving God to stop the disasters to save lives? This is, I think, I perfectly fair and very important question for all natural disasters. So far the only reasonable answer I have come up with is: there is no God, and these things just happen. If there is a God, then there has to be a really good reason why we can continue to respect him despite his indifference to events like these. If we just say “he’s God, he can do what he wants” then that’s circular reasoning, and we still don’t have a reason why, in ANY situation, cakes are more important than thousands of lives.

          • Sheba says:

            Then ask yourself, have YOU ever done something horrible to another person? Wouldn’t it have been better even YOU had not existed to cause pain to another? For instance, if I was on a quest to find out if there was a God and I came you were the first person I met, and you discouraged me? In the Christian view, YOU would have condemned me to an even worse death than the earth and tsunami. Should we then ask why God doesn’t stop people like that? After all, if he is a loving God, he wouldn’t allow people like this to exist. Come to think of, think about the rapist, murderers etc. But guess what he is that merciful and loving. I don’t care if die in a flood or earthquake, as long a get to Heaven, that’s all that matters. My loved one will cry, but who hasn’t. Society will miss me, but that is what makes us human.

          • Michelle says:

            Sure, I’ve done bad things – but never anything that would condemn someone to eternity in Hell. I’ve only questioned people’s faith, but never directly discouraged them from it (and most of that questioning was done in blog comments, like now) – the questions I’m asking are ones that I think any Christian should be able to satisfactorily reconcile. If God knowingly let the tsunami happen, then he undoubtedly needlessly condemned to Hell many young atheists who might have come to Christ, right? From a Christian standpoint, how is that not reprehensible?

            I know humans have free will, and God (apparently) can’t or won’t stop us from living how we want (although, if the Christian worldview is right, that doesn’t seem very loving). But when things like the earthquake and tsunami happened, we have no choice but to blame God for most of the deaths and destruction – how can that be reconciled with the idea of a loving God?

          • Sheba says:

            If I questioned your choice of dressing, isn’t there a possibility that you will doubt if you made a bad choice. Likewise, so can you plant a seed of doubt in my mind when you question my faith. You could also prompt me to go further and study my faith (therefore increase my faith). So either way, some kind of reaction happens from your actions. Likewise, the tsunami happened, just like any incident that can cause death, only this happened to be on a large scale. And just like any death, those that have died will have a destination. Should God stop it? Well, then, I would ask should he stop you in case you might derail me from my Christian path? There is a destination we are going to, whether we are going through life or after life. And while we are going through this process, things happen, the question is not that they will always be stopped, but what are our choices? In other words, how will we exercise our will? People died in the tsunami, and the Japanese people and the world mourns. Its part of life, in case you didn’t notice, someone somewhere is mourning every single day on this earth. You and all of us happen to notice Japan, because it happened on a large scale. Why not question the other times people mourn and tragedies happen? Because again, THIS IS ALL PART OF LIFE. The most important thing again is what YOU do in this life. That is what Christianity helps us to do, live a life that will ensure we end up in our heavenly home. I hope with all my heart you take this opportunity that is freely offered.

          • Michelle says:

            So, no faith should ever be questioned?

            I think comparing my questions to a tsunami is a bit misleading. If someone is faithful without ever questioning it, is it real faith? Shouldn’t faith be able to stand up to questions? Someone being led away from Christ because they couldn’t answer questions about their faith is vastly different from people being killed by God for absolutely no reason. Whatever God wanted to accomplish there, he could have done it without the senseless loss of lives. My questioning someone’s faith and their subsequent denial of Christ are two entirely human actions. The earthquake and tsunami were – if you’re Christian – entirely acts of God.

            I do agree that everyone mourns – that truly unavoidable bad things will happen in life. I just don’t see a loving God fitting in with that. Even if he’s hands-off when it comes to human action (can’t or won’t stop me from questioning Christianity, can’t or won’t stop murderers or rapists), then why pray to him? Why would he selectively decide to answer prayers for a cake, but not prayers for a cancer patient to survive? Questions like these are what drove me as far away from any faith as possible.

          • bearing says:

            Michelle: It sounds like you’re assuming that anyone who professes any faith has to have an answer for everything, otherwise that faith is no good.

            I don’t pretend to know everything. I don’t know anyone who does. We all struggle to make sense of difficult things, all the time.

            “There is no God” doesn’t provide answers to everything either.
            bearing recently posted..Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family review part 3- Some good stuff

          • magda says:

            I agree with Sheba.
            I live wear hurricanes do an amazing job of pruning and clearing out the coastline. Every act of nature has a reason.

          • Sheba says:

            Michelle, think about it this way. Isn’t the same God that created the tsunami the same God that created you? If so then if you have the capacity, using leading questions to lead someone along a different path just like a tsunami can stop your earthly life, what is the difference? You see when we focus attention on ourselves, its not a clear argument any more. It is so easy to blame this God that sends at will disasters to innocent victims. Might as well give on worshiping this God. After all, what could possibly please Him if he can do something like this moreover to a nation that is peaceful.

            I am sure there were God fearing people that died just as their might have been some that didn’t acknowledge Him. That’s the fairness of our God. Whether you worship or you don’t, we are all destined to same end. Death, be it by tsunami, old age, illness, accidents or just plain murder, is coming for each one of us. And again I emphasis, it is what you do while you are on this earth that counts; not how, when or where you will die.

          • Michelle says:

            Sheba, I don’t believe I was created by any God, and I don’t believe any God was responsible for the tsunami. I’m only curious as to how the idea of a loving God can be reconciled with such horrible events, and how anyone can put their trust in a higher being that’s so capricious. I think questioning faith is the most important thing you can do – it’s what brings you to the truth. Maybe that truth is Christianity, maybe it’s Hinduism, maybe it’s atheism – we can never know, but assuming that it’s Christianity and that my questions are leading you away from and not possibly towards truth is really presumptuous.

            If God exists, I hardly see him as fair. I’m sitting in a university building, using a nice laptop. I have money in my wallet, food to eat, no fear of war or famine or genocide – I’m incredibly fortunate. The fact that so many others aren’t is the furthest thing from fair.

            That said, I do absolutely agree that your actions while on Earth are the most important thing. We need to keep in mind that any of us could die tomorrow, fair or not.

          • Sheba says:

            At a risk of making this an intellectual warfare instead of standing up for that hope that is within me, I will leave you with some food for thought, a perspective of a growing catholic christian. An article on the BBC last year by a Nigerian gave raise to a question Jen raised but in the African context? What do we Africans think God is? In his article, he explained that many Nigerians are leaving main stream churches to join evangelical churches, not because these churches are teaching the truth, but because they the church leaders had studied the Nigerian society and realized that they viewed God in the traditional African religious context – appease the gods with a chicken or goat, and all will go well with you – hence give God money and he blesses you with more money.
            Transfer this thinking across Africa, and the same thinking seems to apply – evangelical churches with the prosperity gospel are on the raise and fast across Africa.

            Then, attention turned to myself, do I think the same way? I have often asked God for an alternative route when the one I have before me seems too much or not “packaged” right. If there was suffering or pain, I wanted out and believed “surely this is not what God wants for me?” I just didn’t want the “package” life gave me.

            So Michelle, on a last note, this thinking might just be with Africans, but ask yourself, are you choosing NOT to believe in a God who hands out “packages” along this life that we might not like. Would you prefer to believe in a God that hands out “packages” that we like. In that sense, have you only chosen to not believe because God does not suite your idea of God? And should a creator be subject to the created?

            Food for thought…

      • Christina says:

        I think part of the problem here is the idea that death is the worst thing. We say things like, why didn’t God “save” the natural disaster victims, or why doesn’t God “save” the dying cancer patient? But “saving” is misleading. To be saved in those cases is only to put off the inevitable. We all die, some sooner than others, some in more pain than others. Obviously, this doesn’t answer you question, but I think it’s a starting point.

        As Jen said, suffering is not the worst evil, sin is. Why? Because it separates us from God and from each other.

        The only reason that God can be called love is because He himself entered our world, suffered with us, died like us, was resurrected, and put to death death itself. Without the incarnation, death, and resurrection of God become man, yeah, you’re probably right, God would either not exist or not be worth our love/prayers.

      • I agree with you Michelle. It is a horrible thing to say. And callous.

        I think your question is valid and important.

        Yet I still believe in God.

        In Genesis 1 it tells us that the earth was broken and chaotic, that God created the garden and people and told us to subdue and bring order to the world. But we lost the strength to do that when we stopped trusting in and obeying God. The earth is still chaotic. We have still failed to bring order to it.

        I believe that God is about fixing the brokenness of this earth, and that it’s a work in progress that happens through redeemed humans. I also believe that even though a lot of evil things happen He is strong enough and smart enough to redeem those things and bring good out of them.

        I think that’s where a lot of Christians get confused. They see the good that God worked in spite of an evil situation, and believe that the situation itself was God’s design, to bring that good. Which leads to speculating on things we should not speculate on, such as, “maybe it was time for them to die”. It comes from a good place, from the habit of looking for the redemptive element in everything, but it’s confused.

        There’s a difference between the miracle of bringing good even out of an evil situation, and believing that God planned that situation in order for the good to happen. People who can believe that haven’t really experienced true evil, I don’t think.

        As far as Japan, the world is still a messed up shitty place. “All of creation groans for it’s redemption” to paraphrase the Bible. We trust because we believe that this isn’t the way it will always be. We look forward to something better to come, we look for ways to participate with God in the redemption of the Cosmos. You will even see people here talking about offering up their suffering for some redemptive purpose, because we believe that we get to be agents of God’s redemption here on this earth. Even faced with true evil we look forward to the miracle of the good that can come out of it with God’s help.

        And as another said, we don’t believe death is the end, or that those lost in the earthquake and the flood are without hope or beyond reach of the love of God.

        Is this getting anywhere near addressing your concerns?

        • Michelle says:

          Thanks, Carrien. That seems like a much more rational outlook, although I still can’t grasp why, if God is all powerful, he isn’t responsible for all the good and the bad in the world. If we assume that we’re made by God, all the good and bad elements of ourselves are put there by him – same goes for the Earth. If he’s all-powerful and refuses to intervene in even the most clearly destructive situations, then isn’t he in some way responsible?

          • Bobbie says:

            Michelle – There was a time when I was in awful mental anguish. It went on for months and every minute of the day passed as if it was an hour. I went to see a psychiatrist for help, and there, to my surprise, on his office wall was a crucifix – the body of Jesus in agony on the cross.

            Although raised Catholic (but at that point in my life agnostic), I looked at that crucifix in amazement as if seeing one for the first time. In my own agony I looked upon Jesus’ agony and thought this is just the kind of God I need – one that knows me and suffers with me, and also knows the suffering of every man and woman. A God who became man to know human suffering. A God who I could believe in. Into my darkest hour entered a very large ray of hope. I felt as if another person (Christ) knew exactly my painful isolation, and, in fact, suffered my pain with me. My pain was still there, but I was no longer alone, and that made all the difference.

            Without pain could we know joy? Without suffering could there be compassion? Without the fury of nature could there be the beauty of nature? Perhaps God, in the beginning, thought of all the worlds He could create, and this awful, beautiful, pain-racked, amazing, mysterious world is the only one He could come up with that would fully allow for such awesome beauty, for love to flourish, for good to come out of evil even. For His creature, man, to have freedom.

            I am not the best Catholic, and there are many things I just can’t believe. I can’t believe there is anyone in hell suffering eternal damnation (but Catholic doctrine doesn’t say there is necessarily anyone there either – a soul is God’s to judge, not ours.) I do believe God’s mercy and love are great and beyond anything we could ever imagine. He knows our human weakness. He knows us exactly…better than we know ourselves (for in truth, our very selves are a deep mystery to us.) He is justice, but also mercy. He is love and asks for our love in return. He has given us the virtue of hope too, which is a most amazing thing.

            We all must die. Some in horrible ways like the devastation of a tsunami. But look at the world…look at the awesome beauty that surrounds us everywhere we turn. Just look at this great awesome mystery…everywhere around us. The more we learn from science, the more there is to learn. Science does not preclude God or explain Him away. Science is a gift from God that He gives to you. All the wonderful discoveries. It seems never ending, doesn’t it? It just keeps coming. Even as we learn it is still a mystery. A great mystery. How could these things be? What is all this really? How could we ever know? Will we ever know? Look deep into the beautiful eyes of a child. Look at your brothers and sisters that need your love…that are crying out to you. That are crying out for you, Michelle, to be Christ to them. There is a whole world of beauty that opens up to you as a believer. A whole new world. Please don’t miss out on it.

          • Yes, in a way he is responsible for all the bad things that happen. He gave us free will. And he doesn’t remove our free will, even when we are about to do some really horrible thing to someone else that he cares about.

            I struggled with this question for quite a while actually. I was quite angry at this free will thing, because some people had used their free will to do something bad to me.

            But in the end I realized a few things that make this easy for me to accept now.

            First, I wasn’t promised anything. I wasn’t guaranteed and easy, pain free existence. That I have life is a gift. Every good thing that happens after that is just more gift piled upon more gift. (You can get so hung up focusing on the few bad and painful events that you miss out on the broad array of blessings that follow you and fill you life much more often than the bad stuff does, usually. At least, I can.)

            Second, I like my free will.I suppose God could have made a world where we, and the other beings he created (Because we believe in angels and demons also) had no choices, had no free will. He could force us all to love, worship and obey him. BUt then it’s not true love, or obedience, or worship. There would be no potential for meaningful relationships, between god and people, or people and people, there would be no opportunity in us for creativity and the ability to make something really beautiful out of our lives, out of the raw materials he gives us to work with. But with the ability that we have to make/create beauty in our stories, is the equal ability to create evil.

            God apparently thought that the beauty that was possible, and the relationships that are possible, were worth the risk of what could happen if we made poor choices instead.

            Like I said, I think he’s going to be able, in the end, to redeem every evil thing we and the rest of his creation have done. I think he is weaving a glorious symphony out of our wrong notes, because he is genius enough to do it, and use the dissonance to enhance, rather than destroy the whole.

            It was learning to trust God that allowed me to take responsibility for my own life and choices, oddly enough. Trusting that He is good, and that He trusted me enough to give me the gift of life and will has been the reason I take my choices seriously and look to find the life most worth living through the choices I make.

            That’s why I believe, incidentally, why I trust God. I believe it gives me the most worth living life possible. Where else to I get to participate in bringing good out of evil, and life out of death?

        • Aimee says:

          Thank you, Carrien. I was going to post something similar; basically, that we don’t have the relationship with the Earth that we were meant to have, and that it comes back to us. I know this could seem like an excessively self-flagellating thing to say, but I don’t mean it that way. I’m not saying that earthquakes, etc., are punishments–they’re natural events, part of the way this world works–but we suffer from them because, quite literally, we are fallen and our relationship with the earth is not what it should be or will be. Which sounds a little kooky, I know, but I go to Jesus walking on water and stilling the storm, and the indication we get that there’s some aspect of our humanity which we’ve lost or forgotten.

          Also, as a Catholic, I don’t believe that all of those who perished would go to hell–again, you put it so well at the end of your post.

    • MelanieB says:

      Erin,

      I think the book you’re thinking of is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, a psychologist who was a concentration camp survivor. It’s an awesome book. (Jen, if you haven’t read it, you should definitely add it to your to be read list.)
      MelanieB recently posted..Hallowed Be

  9. Margo says:

    I think as adults we often overthink things. Christ told us that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the little children. To develop a childlike trust in God after being away from childhood so long seems almost impossible and maybe a bit too simplistic. But isn’t that what the Virgin Mary did? Her trust in God was childlike, and yet, it was perfect trust. Mother Theresa and Mother Angelica are two more examples of how childlike trust in God works wonders in our lives. I really like this post!
    Margo recently posted..Father Corapi Update – 2

    • Erin says:

      Amen!!
      Erin recently posted..To Dye or Not to Dye

    • magda says:

      Young Mom said: All this mentality did for me growing up, was to teach me to “shut up and trust God” shut up about abuse, shut up about dreams, shut up about everything and just believe that God will take care of it all. Well, he didn’t. I also have a hard time with the “god sent me a chocolate cake because I trust him so much” when people begging for their baby to survive the NICU get ignored.

      Mother Theresa said to start at home – if you have a home and children, you can’t desert them for a greater service ( you think) and turn their welfare over to God. he provided you for them. he provided you for other members of your family – and unless you are like Jen and have a Yaya down the street who you know, love and trust, you shouldn’t trust your children with unknowns. Saving the world isn’t as important as guarding your children. I’ve had people use the “let go and let God” thought use it to try to use me for their own purposes – and I am glad at almost 60 with four grown children I most of the time stood my ground and gave up being right the world for doing what God obviously wanted me to do.
      About the NICU google Clare’s Hope in Mobile ala and find out what one short life can do for the world – it is inspiring and beautiful!

    • magda says:

      Agreed

  10. Looks like you are getting some good feedback already. In my experience, I’ve learned to be wary of stories like the cake for tea story when told to me by other people because I think often times, they miss the point. I think you, however, hit the point of that story right on the head! The reason I think most people miss the point is because they use it as a means for convincing other people to do what they believe the other person should do. But there is very little that is the “right answer” for everyone. I thought Veronica’s example of the orphanage was an excellent one. What one person is called to do is not what everyone is called to do. And only you can discern for yourself what God is calling you to do.

    Also, in the case of the Brother’s and the cake for tea, they were missionaries, were they not? I would expect that missionaries and most other religious expect to trust in God’s providence completely, that being part of the nature of their vocation. Some people try to live their family lives the way that too. They try to turn their homes into domestic monasteries and that’s where I see stories like this one being distorted for reasons that could be a danger to the family. Certainly, there are things we as families can learn from those with religious vocations, but the nature of the vocations is different. We must not cross the line between trusting and testing God. Trusting in God does not mean that He will provide us everything we want. We have a duty to be prudent. We must still believe in God’s goodness even when the cake does not arrive. We must all try to discern God’s will for ourselves and ourselves alone, not for everyone else.
    Charlotte (Matilda) recently posted..Feast of the Annunciation

  11. elizabeth says:

    The point of the story was people who were learning to trust God more than they trusted people (others, or themselves). Is God the most trustworthy Being out there, or not? They needed to believe that He is – as do we all.

    Part of trusting God is realizing that my ideas about what He needs to do are not always right – and being okay with that. If He has to match my ideas in order for me to trust Him, who am I actually trusting? Myself.

  12. Gina says:

    Such a great post, Jen! I’ve been struggling with some of these very questions lately, and your thoughts on them really helped.

    . . . So I guess one could say you were part of God’s provision for me! :-)

  13. Cuppa Jo says:

    Reading this made three things immediately pop into my mind:

    1. The St. Augustine quotation that majellamom already mentioned (great minds!).

    2. A quotation from C.S. Lewis, particularly the last part: “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time – waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God – it changes me.” Prayer, and faith, aren’t about what I want. They are both about being open to whatever God is sending my way, whether it’s cake or a gathering without treats, whether it’s what I most want or what might most break my heart. I don’t think having faith means just letting things happen with no effort on my part, I think it is having the means to cope with whatever happens despite the effort I expend.

    3. The meaning of life, our purpose here as individuals and as a race, is Love. Putting as much unconditional love into the world as is possible is our goal here, by whatever means each of us is equipped to do it. The more each individual person can love, both give and receive, the better our entire world will be, the closer we will be to Eden.

  14. Headless Mom says:

    I have to look at this question a lot. My daughter wants to be a medical missionary in Africa. All through high school she was confident that God would provide abundantly for this dream of hers (His). My husband and I, while believing in the grand vision, were a little more practical in the earthly meaning of ‘college’, ‘medical school’, and ‘MONEY’ aspects of this dream.

    3 years of college (almost) done and she has been right. He provided an on-campus job for her that has sustained her everyday expenses. (Honestly. She never asks for money. Of course we give her some but her expenses are covered.) We have always had the money for tuition when the time rolls around. She has even been awarded scholarships that have eased the burden.

    This summer she will be going on her first trip to Africa with a medical group. They will be providing basic medical care, first aid, etc. The cost of the trip is over $4000 dollars and she is only around $200 shy of the total. Most of the participants still have thousand(s) to go. This is a girl that RADICALLY trusts God. For everything. To me, she is living proof that when you align your desires with God, he will provide, and do so abundantly.

    I feel like I should also add here that as ‘comfortable Americans’, her dad and I are somewhat nervous about this trip (and vocation!). However, if this is God’s dream for her then why should we get in the way? I trust in God that He has a mighty plan for her and that He wants her safe even more than I do.
    Headless Mom recently posted..Doesnt everyone hate the way they sound

  15. Michelle says:

    I really enjoyed your post the other day and I really enjoy this response to the comments. I hear some of those comments regularly. Of course any time a tragedy occurs, it’s human nature to ask “Why? God? Are you there? Why did this happen? What purpose is the devastation?”

    It’s difficult to pray for what God wants and not what WE want. I know…I struggle with it daily. I think it’s still human and it’s okay to pray for outcomes we desire…but to understand that we need to accept the outcomes God desires.

    BTW – I love that quote that someone else posted: “Pray as though everything depends on God. Work as though everything depends on you.” It’s a wonderful reminder of how to approach things, I think.
    Michelle recently posted..Nature Vs Nurture

  16. Evelyn says:

    All I can say is that I have been struggling with what Trusting God means, but with prayer and faith I do believe that God has led me to this site. I have learned so much from Mrs. Fulwiler and from the wise comments that you readers share. Thank you all and may God bless you.

  17. Andrea says:

    Trust in God isn’t just something we do; it’s something that is given to us by God. Everything we have — even our love for Him — is given to us by God. And so to trust in God means being open to His will at each moment (Philipians 4:11-13).

    Father De Caussade says in the book “Abondonment to Divine Providence” (which I HIGHLY recommend for further reading on this topic): “The ‘one thing necessary’ is always to be found by the soul in the present moment. There is no need to choose between prayer and silence, privacy or conversation, reading or writing, reflection or the abandonment of thought, the frequentation or avoidance of spiritual people, abundance or famine, illness or health, life or death; the ‘one thing necessary’ is what each moment produces by God’s design. In this consists the stripping, the self-abnegation, the renunciation of the creature in order to be nothing by or for oneself, in order to remain as regards everything in God’s order at his pleasure, finding one’s only contentment in bearing the present moment, as if there were nothing else in the world to expect. If everything that happens to a self-abandoned soul is ‘the one thing necessary’, it is evident that nothing is lacking to it and that it should never complain. If it does complain, it is wanting in faith and living by its reason or its senses, which, not seeing the sufficiency of grace, are discontented.”

  18. suzanne temple says:

    I think St Augustine said it best, “We should act like it’s all up to us and pray like it is all up to God.”

  19. Beebs says:

    just because we don’t always get want we want doesn’t mean it’s not worth wanting. It is about controll. Being aware and especting that God is in controll.

  20. Briana says:

    I don’t care for the ‘let God drive” mentality. It is often used as a cop out, and everything can be can be excused with. ‘it was His Will’. As if we have no part. I think, if you beleive and trust in God, you beleive it will all turn out well and for the best. In the end, not necessarily the now. At times life will be sad, or hard, or catastrophic. God gave us reason and free will. We make choices and deal with it the best we can, and God is there to help us get through it. Rejecting those gifts denies the nature God gave us.
    Briana recently posted..Too Creepy To Not Share

  21. Maybe because of my more pluralistic background, I have noticed I don’t always ask the same questions or see things from the same perspective. For instance, I think trying to oppose “our own capacities” with “letting the Lord provide” sets up a false antipathy. If I’ve understood the Christian story correctly, it seems to me that the first thing that should be asks is: Who do you think created you with those capacities?

    Yes, there is a danger if we begin to believe that we have no need for God. And pride can take us there. But you God-given capacities may very well be at least part of the answer to your prayer — or if not your prayer, they may be the answer to that of another.

    The will of God is also not hard to discern in Christian. He wills that all things be reconciled to himself in Christ. His will for you (and me and everyone else) is union with Christ. The list goes on, but it’s mostly that sort of thing. It’s not his will for us to do evil, but to love. With that said, I’ve often heard Christians bemoaning that they can’t tell God’s will between two choices that, for all the world, both sound either good or neutral to me. It’s almost as if they believe that God has some step by step diagram of every single ‘right’ choice and if they take one step away from that plan, they’ll be outside God’s will. I know even my own will, for example my will for the good of my children, doesn’t work like that. Isn’t God’s will supposed to be a little bigger than mine?

    Personally, I would be suspicious if I discovered that ‘God’s will’ coincided too much with my desires. But that might just be me.
    Scott Morizot recently posted..The Jesus Prayer 13 – How to Pray

  22. Maggie says:

    The question you ask is something I struggle with all the time. Both my husband and I want a lot of children, but fear we may not be able to afford it. We trust God will provide, and we do our part by budgeting and being frugal. But there are many others (mostly family) who think we are irrresponsible for not using contraception, me staying at home, wanting many children close together, and putting full trust in God. Sometimes I think… are they right? Maybe God doesn’t want us to have a bunch of kids… that’s why we are in our current financial situation. It’s a daily stuggle to figure out God’s will, how to conform our will to God’s will, and taking into consideration other people’s genuine concern for us.

    • magda says:

      When everyone else told me go to work and don’t have more children, my uncle told me – “Have children. they are the only thing you can enjoy when you can’t afford them!” We have four and we have never been able to afford them and I wish i had more.
      So I am passing that on to you along with something another friend ( mother of six) said – you can’t take any thing you have to heaven – but your children can be there – along with all of the souls of their descendants.

  23. JC says:

    All of this reminds me of a story (joke, really). During a flood, a man climbed onto the roof of his house and began to pray for God to rescue him. He placed his trust in God, and expected a miracle to occur to save him. The waters rose up above the hose’s door, and he spied an empty intertube floating by on the waters. He did not try to grab the intertube, saying to himself, “It’s just a test of my trust. If I trust in God, He’ll send me help.” The waters rose still more, until they reached the gutters at the bottom of the roof, and still the man prayed. A group of people floated by in a small lifeboat. “There’s room for one more in here!” one of them cried out. “No thanks,” the man replied, “God will save me, I just need to trust in Him.” The waters rose still more, until the man was perched precariously on his chimney, the only point of the house not yet submerged. He saw a rescue helicopter overhead, and a rope ladder was dropped within hi reach. He signaled it away, saying “I’m fine, I’m fine. God will save me!” The helicopter crew, exasperated, flew away to search for other survivors. Then the water rose still more, and the man drowned. As he approached the Gates of heaven, he was met by God, and asked, “Why didn’t You rescue me?” “What do you mean,” Gd replied, “I sent an intertube, a boat, and a helicopter.”

    We have to trust in God, and H will reward that trust. But we shouldn’t expect a plain an unmistakable miracle to be the answer to our prayers. Oftentimes His solution relies on us to do our part–to catch the intertube or accept the boat ride or helicopter’s aide–and not to merely sit back an wait for a sort of miracle to enrapture us and sweep us away from whatever crisis we are facing. I see this reflected in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ miracles, too: those He cures either seek Him out in person or send a delegate to do so for them. They scarcely sit back and think to themselves, “I trust that He’ll heal me” as they watch Him walk by. The closest I see to this is the woman who reached out and touched His garment (Mark 5:25-35)–and even she braved the crowds in person, and surely fought her way to Him. Should we trust in God absolutely? Yes, but sometimes that trust requires that we also take action ourselves.
    JC recently posted..CAT- Three Senses of Christs Second Coming

  24. Louise says:

    I am so thankful that you posted this, Jen, because I must admit that I felt the same sense of discomfort as some of the people who commented on the post from last week. My mind kept returning to the “radical trust in God” concept, and I just couldn’t figure out what that meant for me. I don’t think I was alone in thinking, “but how many times have I prayed — begged — God for something WAY more important than a cake, and His answer was ‘no’?” But you are right in reminding us of how prayer should be about what God wants, not what we want. Trusting Him requires us to acknowledge that His will for our lives is perfect and He knows what is best for us, even if we do not understand why He says “no” to something WE believe is best.
    Louise recently posted..Kirills Story

  25. Katherine says:

    I think it is important to remember that there is a huge difference between trusting God always and putting God to the test under the pretense of trusting Him. The people in your book, from what I understand, were missionaries. They were trying to do God’s work and simply trusted Him to help them and make it possible for them to do WHAT HE WANTED. That is very different from needlessly taking risks or failing to do something yourself ONLY to see if He will take care of everything or even as a method of testing yourself to trust Him.

    I remember reading once that giving ourselves sufferings is not nearly so valuable as suffering well through the ones God gives us. He gives us just the right crosses to bear and our job is to suffer through them well and doing that is worth so much more than any crosses we would force on ourselves. Likewise, trusting Him when we are doing His will is worth infinitely more than creating situations for us to trust in Him. I don’t think we can trust Him too much or too often when we are doing His will. But we also should refuse Satan when he suggests we hurl ourselves off a cliff just to see God’s angels catch us.

    I hope I made sense. :)
    Katherine recently posted..Weekly Review- 3-25-11

  26. Jenny C. says:

    Dear Bearing, Magnificat, Young Mom, and all you other somber naysayers :)

    Please read the Meditation Of The Day in the Magnificat daily prayer and reflection magazine from Saturday, March 26th (i.e. a few days ago). It’s Father Tugwell, a Dominican priest, basically saying that we should ask God for stuff, even miracles, just because God enjoys so much the opportunity to give us stuff. Fr. Tugwell surmises that after the prodigal son returned, over time, his confidence probably grew, and he probably began asking his father for things just to make his father happy. I’m not doing it justice here, but go read it. It’s really great. It will cheer you up and help you get over your fear of petitioning God.

    Love,
    Jenny C.

    • Magnificat says:

      “Just because God enjoys so much the opportunity to give us stuff”?
      I did’t read the article, but this reminds me of “name-it-claim-it” philosophy. Prosperity gospel has nothing to do with Bible.
      I have no fear of petitioning God, I do it literary every day. But saying I’m perfectly happy with outcome will be big fat lie.
      For example, I prayed (and still do it) for all my friends and relatives to find a good spouse. Some did. Some didn’t. And my most beloved cousin got cancer in the midst of my most fervent prayers for her future husband. No, she didn’t marry some handsome oncologist. She barely survived, became infertile, lost her job, lost some friends too, and, due to hormonal inbalance, got 60 pounds. Fast forward 15 years, she has almost all that extra pounds and underpaid job. And no husband, of course.
      Christianity isn’t a fairy tale with happy ending on this earth.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I second Magnificat – I petition God all the time (I even feel guilty about how much) and there is one petition I ask for every day that would truly be a miracle. But I also know that I may never get that thing I pray for, it may not be God’s will and I may have to suffer through without it as best and as cheerfully as I can. I think this mentality that all you have to do is ask and God will fill your order form is dangerous, and easily leads, unfortunatly, to a lack of compassion to those who have nothing. If it’s as simple as asking God and you ‘will’ get it, then how do you explain poor people, people with debilitating illness and disabilities, people who struggle with homosexuality, people in difficult but valid marriages, people with infertility, etc. Doesn’t that philosophy make it *their* fault – if only they had prayed hard enough, then they would have the money/health/sexual orientation/happy marriage/babies that they wanted? That seems like a cruel philosophy to me, and it’s also the one I see at play in America with people refusing to help the poor on the grounds that they should help themselves. I completely believe we must trust God, and that He will not give us more than we can bear, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be bearing crosses.

  27. Trust shouldn’t become an excuse for carelessness, and it seems like the example of the cake cited was unusual and not really analogous to the callings of everyday life. The better parallel seems like some of the times that Jen has talked about on the blog, where she felt called to see someone or raise a certain topic and realized afterward that she was providing very necessary comfort. The trust in those cases may seem more quotidian, but, given what you’ve told us about shyness, Jen, it’s not any less impressive.

    Praising the recklessness of trust in God seems likely to lead to showy displays of faith. No one should boast of their daring or minimize the small ways people place their trust in God.

    Most importantly, even if you believe that moral or practical qualms should ultimately be overruled when you feel the stirrings of the Holy Spirit, those scruples need to be addressed, especially since many people have claimed divine inspiration wrongly. It would be a shame to promote heedless trust that dampened reflection and examination of impulse.
    Leah @ Unequally Yoked recently posted..Dont Take Me Literally!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Great point Leah! Also, I can’t remember who said (Padre Pio maybe?) that the Holy Spirit will never lead you to behave contrary to the Church’s teachings, and if you feel called to do something that contradicts the Church’s teachings, you must obey the Church before following your impression of what the Holy Spirit is leading you to.

    • magda says:

      Well put, Leah

  28. Lizzie says:

    I’ve really enjoyed all these comments and thoughts. I think ‘trust in God’ is all about discovering the true nature of God and how his thoughts are not always our thoughts. If we believe that God is love and that He loves us personally, then we can press in and trust his provision even in the tiniest details. This doesn’t mean we avoid pain, unexpected crises etc. as some people have already mentioned, but we can trust that it is all better for our sanctification (if that doesn’t sound too pious!)

    I have many examples, small and big, of God providing for all my needs but not necessarily answering ‘my’ prayers.

    A recent one is that I crashed a car a few years back – it was the nicest, newest car I’ve ever owned and I was sure God would provide a new car, somehow, for me and my son. Not so – we spent 18 months without a car yet discovered the need to slow down, pack carefully and plan train journeys well! It was a blessed time and people were so kind and generous about offering lifts, transporting things for me etc.

    After the 18 months, someone gave me (completely out of the blue) a really old car which has served me well. However, this was stolen 2 weeks ago. Again, I knew I could trust God completely and didn’t spend any energy worrying about where I would get another car (buying one isn’t an option – I’m a single mum on a low income).

    Sure enough, my brother called me up and asked if I’d like his car for the 6 months he’s serving in Afghanistan.

    This is where God really began to work in the details – the insurance wasn’t any more expensive even though the car will now be in London, one of his colleagues drove it across the country for me this Saturday past (I thought I wouldn’t be able to get it for another 3 weeks) and this was the day my courtesy car had to be returned to the insurance company. I didn’t spend 1 minute without a car to drive.

    God is good – on this occasion, he did provide in the smallest of ways including the exact day and time I needed the car but 3 years ago, there was no car in sight yet God provided for me and gave me exactly what I needed on both occasions.

    Sorry, I’ve rambled on but hopefully managed to illustrate the point that God always provides if you trust in him.

    • Lizzie says:

      Just to add – I don’t just sit around expecting God to wave his magic wand. Before my brother called offering his car, I had done quite a bit of research into cars I could possibly afford, searched on Ebay, got insurance quotes, asked around etc. I always remember your piece a while back Jennifer on trust – how much action do we need to take – and an idea you wrote about really struck me. If you start getting stressed or being drawn away from your primary responsibilities, you can be fairly sure you’re acting in your own strength. We need to find that balance between patient trust and action (which are inseparable).

      There, done!

  29. Bonnie says:

    When James was in the NICU we had to trust in God A LOT! We trusted that the suffering was worth something. We trusted that we had been doing His Will and so He would see us through, though we didn’t know what that would look like but we trusted He would bless our efforts. Also, though we were praying for a miracle we were also praying that His Will be done, and so we trusted that whatever happened to James in the end would be exactly what God would want for us. If that meant a baby who couldn’t breathe, think, move, or see then we would just have to spend the rest of our lives trusting in God’s big picture. Not that that would be easy. In fact things are still very hard – even with our miracle – and there are many moments that I have to confess fear and ask to be filled with trust. It seems I spend a lot of my life praying, for one reason or another, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!”
    I don’t know what that’s worth, but it’s my two cents.
    Bonnie recently posted..my idea that Im super excited about

    • magda says:

      wish I had read your baptismal candle idea about 31 years ago – I love it and will pass it on!

  30. Jen- your commenters are very deep! :)
    priest’s wife recently posted..TMI Re- NFP

  31. Kerri B. says:

    In reading this post, I couldn’t help but think of this quote:
    Pray like everything depends on God, work like everything depends on you.

    I can’t find who said that, but I really like it. For me, this quote tells us that yes, we should trust in God through our prayers, but that we are also expected to work hard in this life, not just sit back and expect that if we pray everything will be handed to us. Because it won’t, we all know that. Some things are just out of our control (natural disasters, the death of loved ones, etc.) and sometimes God says no or not yet to our prayers. I like your reasoning here that the missionaries were trusting in God to provide for them, but weren’t just expectingthings because they wanted them. The things they were praying for (like the cake) were needed for a bigger purpose (the Bible study event).
    Kerri B. recently posted..Seven Quick Takes- vol 19

  32. Bridget says:

    We are currently on a family pilgrimage in Rome, and found ourselves pretty lost yesterday en route to find St. Agnes’ Church. We had checked & rechecked the map, we had asked several locals (none of whom spoke Engish) and were about to give up. Out of the blue, the driver who had shuttled us from the Rome Airport to our flat 2 days earlier appeared in the tiny ally/street (no where near the airport or our flat) and said, “I have your son’s lost coat.” (Our 11 yo son had forgotten his only coat in the van, on the first day of our 3 week trip!) My husband, in particular, was sure that divine intervention was the only possible explanation for such a random occurrance. I had been praying and asking St. Agnes to intercede for us if it was God’s will that we find her church.

    We thanked the driver, and told him we were lost and he gave us directions to St. Agnes.

    I was suddenly reminded of the meditation from Saturday’s Magnificat:
    “In fact our essential motive for asking God for things should change, so that it will no longer be simply that we want things, but that we are beginning to enter into the joy that God has in giving. God likes giving, and this, in the last analysis, is the foundation for all prayers of petition.” -Father Simon Tugwell, O.P.

    I guess we should trust in God’s will completely, ask for whatever we please, and know that in the end the results are completely up to God.

    God bless you!

  33. Susan says:

    I think the bigger question is, if you don’t trust God, who do you trust? Do you trust you own ability? Many do, but I wouldn’t try it. Do you trust a religious leader? Realistically,aren’t they only as trustworthy as the God they represent? Do you trust a doctor or political leader? They have their areas of expertise, but these are, at best, limited and, at worst, seriously flawed by a sinful nature.
    The problem is that when you trust God you have to remember that you are not the only one doing it. There are all the other thousands of people out there who are trusting Him, also, and He is doing what is best for them, too.
    If I may offer a personal example. My husband and I prayed for years for children, trusting God to decide the size of our family. He answered this prayer with years of infertility and our three, very precious, adopted children. But in doing so, he also answered the prayers of their very godly grandmother for Christian parents for them. God had to say no to our prayers for pregnancy in order to say yes to her prayers for parents. In the end, however, God provided perfectly for both of us.

  34. Pamela says:

    I think the quote that sums it up for me is: “Work like everything depends on you. Pray like everything depends on God.” He wants us to invest our talents, to use them, and to bear fruit. And yet God cannot be outdone in generosity, no matter what we do and give to Him. An entry that you made awhile back about discernment and St. Francis really hit home for me. On the one hand, we have to trust God to set us on the right path. On the other, its up to us to start walking down a path eventually – we can’t pick the right one if we’re stuck on the crossroad. We just have to start walking and know that God will correct us if we happened to start down the wrong road.

  35. Perhaps the quote I read on your blog a while back (the topic was learning to say no)applies here, “how good is your yes, if you never say no?.

    Now, I don’t think God tells us no here and there just to let us know he’s the boss.

    Or that we’ll appreciate the gifts only if they are withheld from us on occasion.

    But those things sure sound a lot like the messages Adam and Eve got through that whole apple and serpent adventure. Followed by the whole, gift of a free will thing.

    Many things I do as a parent my children do not like. But they have to trust that I know what’s best for them (Okay, sometimes I am guessing-but God never guesses).
    FullSpectrumMom recently posted..The Precocious Child who knows it

  36. Kimberlie says:

    Living in a town where the “prosperity gospel” is preached and preached often, I sometimes get nervous when I hear stories about praying for cake and God delivering. I think though what it comes down to me are these things:

    1. God does provide and as our heavenly Father, He does desire to delight us with the little things.
    2. God isn’t an ATM or a genie in a bottle. All our wishes don’t get granted. Sometimes the answer is “no.” It doesn’t change who He is, and doesn’t mean He couldn’t provide, it just means He’s got a different plan.
    3. In order to really trust God, you have to know God, and that leads to better discernment about what we ask Him for.
    4. Sometimes it’s easier to trust God for cake than to trust God for the really big things. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask for the really big things.

    I think most of us really don’t have a problem with too much trust in God. Most of us have too little trust in God, choosing instead to always want to figure things out on our own. I’m with Jen. I need “Trust School.”
    Kimberlie recently posted..In the Darkness of Night

  37. Nina says:

    No, you can not have too much trust in God! It is just hard to accept his Will in things that we don’t understand or like. ;) Three books that have helped tremendously in my own peace of heart and understanding on this issue are: Peace, Not as the World Gives by Fr. Lasance; Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence by Fr. Saint-Jure, SJ; and most of all, the most detailed on conformity of our wills to God’s Will…..Heliotropium (“the Sunflower”) by Fr. Drexelius, SJ. It is old, and the style is a bit archaic, but it is worthwhile to stick with it and read it carefully. It sums everything up in the most comprehensive way possible in Catholic spirituality, imho! Life changing for me.

  38. elizabethe says:

    Hi Jenn,

    I have no thoughts on this to add but only wanted to share what seems to me to be a Catholic example of a group that radically trusts God in a way similar to the author of your book. Perhaps you or your readers have heard of A Simple House?

    http://www.asimplehouse.org/

    They have two houses, one in Washington D.C. and one in Kansas City, MO, and as part of their mission they take a vow of poverty. They don’t keep more than 3 months operating expenses at a time and they won’t allow anyone to set up an endowment and they don’t have a savings account. They sometimes mention miraculous things happening to (receiving a check for $20,000 they very day they called a meeting to talk about shutting down part of the ministry and sending people home, things like that). I think this focuses them on their guiding principle which is that the poor in America are not in need of more material goods but are rather in need of spiritual uplift.

    I’m not affiliated with this group in any way. Jenn, read their website, they discuss their philosophy to “wonderfully and radically fall upon the cross of Christ for grace and support.” in some depth in the tracts and thought section. It’s exactly pertinent to what you’re talking about here.

  39. Laura says:

    I’ve been having this conversation with friends since you wrote that post. We were pondering the fine line between presumption and complete trust. Yes, I think you can begin to “presume” that God will grant you whatever you want if you trust in Him. But we all know that He will only grant us what is good for us.

    In my own life I’ve seen God pull some pretty good ones out of the hat and they all started with an inspiration that came from the Holy Spirit. I know that I can’t just start asking God for everything and expecting to receive it. There seems to be a distinct difference between me asking for things I’ve been inspired to ask for (which usually are granted, no matter how trivial they may seem) and just asking for anything that pops into my head.

    I think you stated it very well when you talked about the fact that the missionaries were always seeking to do God’s Will. They became familiar with what it meant to trust Him completely and they probably were pretty sure which needs/wants would be taken care of and which ones wouldn’t.

    I can’t wait to read this book!
    Laura recently posted..7 Quick Takes Friday

  40. Veronica says:

    I think we have to trust that God wants what is best for us.

    What was best for me was having an abusive alcoholic father. That childhood made me turn towards God as my heavenly father, and grow and grow in my faith. Without my childhood, I would not be the woman that I am today.

    Even when things go wrong, I trust that God wants what is best for me.
    If that means I get in a car crash and die, then I get to meet Him in heaven. That may mean that other people pray for me just before I’m dead when I’m in the ICU. Maybe my dad will pray for me. Maybe my getting hit by a car, being seriously injured and then my death will bring my dad to heaven. That would be what is best for him.

    See how horrible things can actually be “what is best”?

    We can’t always rely on God to deliver cakes, or whatever, but if we didn’t have the cake, something else would be provided, or nothing would. And that would be what was best for us. It takes faith to see the works of God.

  41. Young Mom says:

    Thanks for posting this follow up, I thought I’d try to clarify a bit more on my thoughts about trusting God.

    It’s good to trust God. You cannot control alot about your life, and it is good to recognize that fact and surrender those things to God. I have 4 children aged 4 and under, and I would call that trust, because I don’t always feel as though I know what I’m doing. Sometimes you just have to jump, no amount of planning can make a choice easier or more certain. That’s kind of Jesus’ point when he sends out the disciples two by two telling them to bring nothing but the clothes on their back. He’s saying, get out there and get started, instead of making excuses and planning forever.

    BUT,,, there is nothing wrong with admitting you need help and getting help. If you need counselling PLEASE take responsibility and get counselling, do not “trust god” to fix your issues without any effort on your part. If you are being abused, do not “trust god” that he will work out the abuse “for your good” and magically transform the abuser if you just put up with it patiently enough, and then let yourself remain in a bad situation. If you need surgery or medication, PLEASE go to the Dr and get help, do not pray and “trust god” while you die from something that could be easily treated by human helpers.

    My problems with the Brother Andrew’s chocolate cake kind of story are:

    1. Not being honest about the need/desire seems like spiritual one-upmanship to me. Like you are trying to test god or create a situation you can brag about later. “Look at me! God loves me on a whole new level, so much that he sent me a cake even when I refused to communicate my need to fellow christians.”

    2. Expecting something extremely specific from god. Would they have been OK with someone sending a bag of cookies? If someone showed up with a couple loaves of bread would they have been like “no thanks, we are waiting on a cake from god” or would they have praised god for providing?

    3. Telling the story about the prayer that was “answered”, with no emphasis on the 20 times that prayer wasn’t answered. Poeple who tell these kinds of stories make it sound as if it always works out perfectly if you just trust god “enough”. It’s like that christian movie “facing the giants” great movie, but by the end of the movie, not only does his salary get increased substantially (not to mention a new car) but their infertility is magically cured as well. Really? Is that how god works if you just “trust him enough”?

    I see “answers to prayer” as a private revelation, not a “do-it-right-to-get-a-result-formula”. God maybe even sends answers to prayer for the little things in life sometimes, but thats a special gift of encouragement for you, not the rule or a universally specific example of what to do if you want answers.
    Young Mom recently posted..Not perfect- but I hope Beautiful Anyway

    • Magnificat says:

      Like this very much! My problems with the Brother Andrew’s chocolate cake kind of story are exactly the same, but I didn’t know to elaborate it so finely as you did.
      Thanks!

  42. Marian says:

    “God pays for what He orders.” A simple statement from my Pastor that I have found to be true. I think a key is whether the work in question is led by the Holy Spirit– not just a good thing, a seemingly “right” thing that we ask God to bless, but God’s thing.

  43. Marian says:

    “God pays for what He orders.” A simple statement from my Pastor that I have found to be true. I think a key is whether the work in question is led by the Holy Spirit– not just a good thing, a seemingly “right” thing that we ask God to bless, but God’s thing.

  44. Marian says:

    “God pays for what He orders.” A simple statement from my Pastor that I have found to be true. I think a key is whether the work in question is led by the Holy Spirit– not just a good thing, a seemingly “right” thing that we ask God to bless, but God’s thing.

  45. Rose says:

    We are, after all, God’s children–adopted by the draining of Christ’s blood on the cross. Our Father did not just want us to merely call Him father, but rather, live our lives as His children. Our Lord reminds us again and again in the Gospel to become as little children, not worrying about “what we should eat, or what we should drink, or what we should put on.” Our lives are in the loving hands of our Father, and it would be false to say that anything happens without his specific allowance.

    Of course, as you mentioned, one cannot be imprudent, but I think the important thing is to clarify one’s definition of trust. It would seem that trust equates to a lack of control, which, in the eyes of our culture, cannot be good. But, for us Christians, we discover through trust that we were never “in control” to begin with. None of us can forestall our deaths or prevent X from happening–the rain will come with or without our “command,” and just so with the glorious sunshine. So too with our particular trials and joys. Granted, each of us have our free will; no one and no situation can make us do anything. Perhaps, trust could be defined as that peace that comes from knowing that everything that happens to us works for our salvation, especially tribulations. (“All things work together for the good to those who love God.” Rom 8:28)

    That said, it would be silly to sit back and do nothing at all, “trusting” that everything will turn out. Certainly, this cannot be what God wants. We can turn to Jesus, our model and Lord, and see through the example of His life that this is not the “sonship” that God wants. It would be against the nature of man to sit back lazily and announcing that “all is well.” No, in the Gospel, Our Lord tells us that rather than worrying about things, we must “seek first the kingdom of God” (Mt 6:25-35). In essence, when we go about our daily duties for the service of God, we know with certainty that Our Father, Goodness Himself, will lead us up the sometimes arduous, but always joyful, road to calvary and the resurrection. Time and again, we may find that things didn’t work out the way WE planned, but then again, we must follow the example of so many before us, saying “Amen. Fiat. Praise God!” (Upon getting his finger caught in a door, Pope John Paul II–soon to be blessed!!!–was overheard to say “Thank you, Lord for loving me in this way.” Ouch. I have so much to learn!)

    For most people, trust doesn’t mean anything extraordinary, rather it means putting one’s whole self into following God’s will at the moment. In decisions, we may find that “things just aren’t working out,” but then we realize that He wanted us elsewhere. As someone wise told me recently, “Nothing is wasted by God–even a wrong decision on your part.” If we are truly seeking His will, we will have the peace, security, and foresight of seeing that our Father has everything under control, and we will be able to look forward to the hope of eternal bliss with Him in heaven.

  46. Lisa R. says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    I’d like to commend you for your grace in the face of what have been some fairly offensive and insulting comments. You are more patient than I.

    God bless,
    Lisa

  47. Brittany says:

    I was amazed to read the comments you received. Faith and trust are essentially the same and in Hebrews 11:6 it says “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” My experiences even within the past week have proven this to me. I would have been in Japan the day of the earthquake had God not intervened. My flight would have transfered in Tokyo had there not been a change of plans that seemed a nuisance to me at the time. This is not to say that bad things don’t happen to good people (because they do) but we have to look at those things as a part of an important process or “growing up time” for us and trust that God is using it for our good like it talks about in Romans 8:28.
    Brittany recently posted..Jet-Fueled Faith

  48. Andie says:

    I think that we only need to look to Jesus to get an answer to this. Jesus had perfect trust in God and yet he didn’t sit back each day waiting for God to provide all his needs. As parents we expect our children to trust us and yet sometimes we need to let them stumble and fall, knowing that they will learn and grow from it all. Trusting God is letting him do (or not do) whatever I need in this life so that I can spend eternity with him. Perhaps we need to think about trust in God’s terms rather than our own. Great post Jennifer and wonderful insights.
    Andie
    Andie recently posted..Ooooh- I really like this…

  49. Magnificat says:

    No, it’s not possible to trust God too much.
    But, to whom we trust, that is the question.

    While you’re imagining God as celestial ATM (subconsciously, at least), trusting is easy. Because you don’t trust God, you believe that your own beautiful visions and plans are God’s.
    When you start learning (often in “blood, toil, tears and sweat”) that “His ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not ours”, then trust begins. And this school can be really hard. Especially when you see your life in ruins, and you can’t do anything about it, and He seems to be completely happy with that.
    As C.S.Lewis noticed, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be”.

    Concerning balance between prudence and abandonment to God …
    So many believers use “God will provide” as excuse for their ignorance, laziness, cowardice, lack of charity.
    St.Ignatius (“Pray as though everything depended on God, work as though everything depended on you”) and st.Francis de Sales (“God hates the peace of those whom He has destined for war”) never failed me.

    • magda says:

      Magnificat
      I broke down yesterday and ordered the book “St. Ignatius, the Pilgrim Years” by James Broderick SJ. I first read it while on a personal retreat at a monastery – it was given to me by the Mother of the order there.
      I was very surprised to read James Broderick’s remark that Ignatius is often misquoted. Broderick said that Ignatius said to “Pray as if everything depended on you (contemplative prayer) and work as if everything depended on God.” this made no sense to me at the time.
      It does not mean not to work. Ignatius founded a working order. It to pray as if your prayer can move mountains,it means to pray unceasingly, it means to understand that everything good you accomplish is accomplished through God’s strength, not your own.
      It means to trust in God not man. It means when you are weak, His strength will radiate and do amazing things.
      One couple was told that their baby would not live past a couple of weeks and it was suggested that they abort her. The father said, “This baby is gift from God!” She lived longer than anticipated, but did not make it past her first birthday.
      The couple bought a building which once housed an abortion clinic which was prayed out of existence. They named it for their daughter. They called it “Claire’s Hope”. While the abortion rooms have been left as it – to show what actually goes on in an abortion clinic, the rest of the building has been transformed as a place of peace, healing and joy.
      They have a group of bright cheerful teenage girls – the “Stay Strong, Stay Pure, Stay Lovely (SPL) girls who meet and encourage each other to stay chaste and spread the word to others. They attend life rallies and raise money for pregnancy resource centers. You can find them on facebook if you search it. The directors give tours and talks to middle schoolers up to college age.
      This tragedy directed this affluent couple to pour money into encouraging mothers to have their babies.
      While my husband and I have nowhere near the resources to do what this amazing couple has done, we did walk in processions there and pray.
      One morning, by myself, I sat where it was legal to park, in my car, and prayed while I looked at the clinic.
      At the time it was still an abortion clinic. I prayed that the clinic would be transformed into a place of life – a place where chastity was taught. My prayer has been answered.
      For those who ask, “Do you mean He brought this tragedy on a family to answer your prayer? Do you mean that He used that little baby to answer your prayer? What about the couple of the famous daughter whose pure soul dwells in eternity with our Almighty Father?”
      My answer is: She did more in her short life for the good than many with long lives. Her parents responded with love!
      Google or go to Claire’s Hope on facebook to see what God can do.
      I have more stories.
      God bless.

      • magda says:

        By “broke down”, I mean finally decided to spend money on the book so that I can reread it.

  50. Tina says:

    As one whose baby DIDN’T survive the NICU, I really struggle with these type of stories–also the one where the rock climber “miraculously” finds her contact; they are more a slap sometimes–like God cares more about cake than my child? Yes, I know he’s in heaven and I’ll see him someday (Thank you, God!), but I kinda wanted him here more first.

    Re-learning how to trust God was a 5 year journey for my husband and me. We finally came to a place where we figured out that 1) We live in a fallen world and bad things happen to good people even when they beg God for a yes. 2) Being a cradle Christian and just believing is very different than thinking it through and coming to an adult belief and faith based on facts and choice. 3) God is not a celestial genie whose belly gets rubbed and he says “yes master”.
    Tina recently posted..Steak Fajitas

  51. Stephanie says:

    I remember, as a child, my mother teaching me to dress myself. I could never comprehend why I would want to lay a shirt down backwards, tag up, for it to “magically” appear on my body correctly. It made no sense to me. But I tried it, and it worked.

    So I kept laying my shirt down backwards, tag facing up.

    I think that trusting God is similar. God tells us from time to time to do things that we may not comprehend or understand. But, as His children, we need only trust that He knows what’s going on–and what’s the front of the shirt and the back of the shirt.

    Yes, he may answer the prayers of men praying for cake and at the same time be silent during the mother’s prayer in the NICU, but we’re merely His children who need to trust.

    I think trusting is not only praying for “radical things” but it’s also trusting that God will often NOT answer our radical prayers – and that that’s OK too.
    Stephanie recently posted..Come home to us

  52. There’s a wonderful little book called “The Will of God” by Leslie D. Weatherhead. It first was published in 1944. I think the conversation of trusting God and God’s will are connected. Weatherhead does a great job, in my opinion, of unpacking some complicated issues around God’s will.
    Jill @ Clearest Glimpse recently posted..Happy

  53. Susan says:

    It’s my feeling that life brings us plenty of opportunities to trust in God without having to artificially manufacture them.

  54. Jenny C. says:

    Magnificat-

    I think you are intentionally missing the point in order to preserve your dour outlook. Lighten up!

    In the actual Magnificat, Mary says “All generations will call me blessed.” Was she just naming it and claiming it? Should she have instead said, “Oh, this life sucks. I’ll just muddle along until I die. Ho hum. At least there is heaven.”

    • Magnificat says:

      Dour outlook? Well, maybe it seems so, to you, at least :-)) .
      And maybe I’m too tired of those prosperity gospel messages that basically tell people that God is wish-granting genie, and everything will be just as you want if you trust & pray hard enough. No big difference between that and some New Age follies (Rhonda Byrne etc). And this mindset makes people think that every person who suffers fully deserved it, because he/she didn’t trust & pray enough. Tell Christians in Near East they don’t pray for peace, tell every mother who lost her child that she didn’t trust enough, tell the same to mortally ill patient in hospital.

      P.S. Don’t worry. I don’t think this life sucks. But sometimes it can be hard, very hard. Btw.I was born with a cheerful nature, in a family who liked to joke and laugh, and to me joy is the one of the best God’s gift. But with themes like this I instantly become very, very serious.

  55. Aimee says:

    While it is hard to reconcile giving of the cake with the loss of a child, I think that could be applied to anything–why does God sometimes say yes to small prayers, and then no to big ones, and tragedy ensues? Does this mean he doesn’t say yes to small prayers?–no, because he obviously does. And sometimes he saves one person, and not another, from some seemingly terrible fate–does this mean he didn’t save the first person? Well, maybe, but then we’re in the land of deism. The hard truth is, God lets hard things happen. I think it’s ok to get angry about that–and to say “who ARE you?” to Him. But to dismiss small prayer answers is to dismiss the way God acts a lot of the time–and that is spiritually dangerous. I recommend Ann Voskamp’s book on this one–she has a lot to say about this very issue–I agree with her that it’s all wrapped up in the question of gratitude and trust.

  56. Fred Astaire says:

    “Lord save us from sour faced saints!” -St. Theresa of Avila

  57. MelanieB says:

    Karen Edmisten just posted this quote from George MacDonald on her blog, which seems apt to the conversation: “Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best, and man will not take it.”
    MelanieB recently posted..Hallowed Be

  58. rose says:

    God is love and mercy. I believe bad things happen because of sin in the world, and because of the absence of God. When we suffer the most, that he when He holds us the closest.
    He is our everything. God made the world through Christ and for Him. He is not only our Savior, He is the universe’s purpose.

  59. A few thoughts, I haven’t read the comments yet, so apologies if this is a repeat.

    First, I believe if God tells you to do something, however crazy, and you are certain that it’s him then to do that thing is an act of faith. You must trust God in order to make a beginning. There is a moment when you take the first step, even if it’s the only one you can see, and trust that God will provide as you go, because he is the one who sent you. (We just read this morning in Matthew 10 about Jesus commissioning the 12 to go and preach, heal cast out demons, etc, and to take no thought for the journey, what they will eat or wear, for the laborer is worthy of his hire.

    Second, There are several occasions when there is no clear direction from God. You are choosing between two good things, and you want to know what God wants you to do. So you pray in faith, trusting that if God wants you to make a particular choice he will make it clear. When there is no clear direction you step out in faith trusting that God will be with you no matter which direction you go in.

    Both paths are evidence of trust, in the same life even, in different seasons. Sometimes we are learning to make choices, because to serve God and others well we need the practice, and to learn wisdom through our mistakes. We don’t tell our children how they ought to color a picture, we let them decide, we let them exercise their creative abilities to make something of their own. When they are older we don’t tell them how to do some things, as long as they get them done. They trust us, but they aren’t actively learning to trust.

    But then there are other occasions when we tell them to do something very specific and we provide everything they will need to do it with step by step directions. If they don’t trust us they won’t accomplish the task given, whether it be learning to ride a bike or building a birdhouse. Here they are actively learning to trust.

    I think our lives have more than one season, and some of us will have seasons when we wait on a cake to arrive. We will also have others when we roll up our sleeves and get out the flower and cocoa powder because we’re going to make it ourselves.

    Hopefully this makes sense, though I know the analogies break down a bit.

  60. berenike says:

    Prudence doesn’t mean being careful; it’s the virtue that makes the other virtues, virtues, and not excesses or defaults in their proper regards. Trusting in God doesn’t mean not doing stuff so God can fix it up – baking a cake isn’t of itself an expression of less trust in God than not doing so. Rashness is not the same as courage, but one can’t necessarily rule whether in a given situation doing X would be rash or courageous. I think the question has false premises.
    berenike recently posted..PTSD

  61. Brianna says:

    This is an interesting topic to be sure. Having grown up a Protestant (hoping to begin RCIA classes in the fall) I’ve heard various stories like this, especially among missionaries etc.

    Someone, and I don’t remember who, left a comment on the original post basically talking about how God does different things with different people. In some cases, YES, the right thing is to wait and trust God and see what He does…in others, maybe He wants us taking action.

    Who am I to say someone should have done this or that, or that their story isn’t valid? That being said, usually this sort of story comes from someone who has a very different belief system than me. I hear the story and am amazed, but it is not something I feel I can really relate to.

    At any rate, it’s fascinating to think about. I look forward to reading the other comments!
    Brianna recently posted..Of blogs and randomness

  62. dianne says:

    Wow, what a great dialogue here and I truly appreciated your thoughts along these lines (as well as the comments). Trust seems to be my word for the year. I think for me, it is coupled with obedience. It’s as much about the action on my part in response to God’s word to me.
    dianne recently posted..A Vapor

  63. Headless Mom says:

    Jennifer- I’m sorry to comment again but I just read an article on the blog ‘Money Help for Christians’ and I think that Craig’s commentary on faith and testing God is an appropriate sidenote here. The whole post is about giving but I think you’ll find his analysis of God giving us what we need/want interesting.
    Headless Mom recently posted..Just A Note

  64. Erin says:

    Not quite sure why it was such a horrible thing to say. Every human born since time began has a finite time on this Earth. God will call each and every one of us home when our “mission” on Earth is over (unless some else exerts their free will and takes our life before God can call us home through natural death). I believe that you mentioned yourself, Carrien, that you believe life is a gift and nothing is guaranteed.

    Christians believe our eternal home is heaven and that’s our goal so those who lost lives in the Earthquake are in the arms of Jesus. I didn’t know any of them personally, so all I can do is pray for their souls and trust in God’s Divine Mercy for those who may not have lived their life for God. Beyond that, I have to trust that God is in control and there is a bigger picture here. I have done, just that.

    Also, God doesn’t condemn souls to hell, they choose it by rejecting God. Hell is eternity outside of the presence of God. I trust and believe strongly in God’s Divine Mercy and believe that not as many choose hell as we might think. However, we want to grow as close to Jesus on Earth. Not sure I want to start a conversation on purgatory.

    • Erin says:

      Oops. This should have gone under the thread above about the Earthquake and Tsumani Sorry.

    • Hi Erin,

      When Christians make statements like the one you did, to people who don’t share your worldview or most of your assumptions it sounds callous, uncaring, and judgmental.

      I don’t believe that that was your intention or what was in your heart, but that kind of statement, divorced from common ground has the effect of causing someone to conclude that we don’t really care about human suffering.

      We must keep in mind that even though God can redeem evil He still grieves over evil, and if our first response to an event where life was lost doesn’t express first the compassion and love of God the I don’t think many people are going to understand that God is love or stick around long enough to hear why you have hope even in that situation.

      Let’s first be moved by the things that move the heart of the Father and then perhaps speculate on His grand design, rather than the reverse.

      • Erin says:

        Yes, I understand what you are saying and I agree that I could have put more thought into explaining what I meant rather than just assuming that everyone would understand.

  65. peg says:

    Practical me thinks God might have been working through the lady who asked if she could help in some way and they said to her that God will provide (I forgot the exact words). Nothing wrong in telling her they could have used a cake, in my opinion.

  66. “We are called upon not to be successful, but to be faithful.”
    -Mother Teresa

  67. Cassandra NZ says:

    Hello,

    Here is a link to a beautiful talk (video) on trusting God. You’ll need 45 mins to watch. And be prepared to need a tissue. I enjoy your blog, Jennifer. Reading your articles and other peoples comments gives me a great sense of how wonderful our faith is and how much I love The Church and the Lord you gave it to us.
    Link: http://vimeo.com/7830792

  68. Michelle says:

    I didn’t get a chance to read all of the comments above (sorry) but I recently finished reading Uniformity with God’s Will by St. Alphonsus de Liguori. The central idea is that we aren’t to submit our will to God’s (not my will, but Thine) but to bring our will into alignment with God’s will (Thy will be done, and because it is Thy will, it is mine as well).
    Michelle recently posted..Can You Change?

  69. This is an interesting conversation. I’ve always believed that we should pray as if everything depends on God, and then get up and work as if everything depended on us. I don’t think planning and acting demonstrates a lack of faith. Rather, I believe that God expects us to keep our ears open to the promptings of the Holy Ghost as we work out our own salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Part of faith has to be acting according to our best understanding and trusting that the Lord will help us make course corrections. Great Blog! Thanks for writing.
    Addictionconqueror recently posted..Putting Trust in the Lord

  70. Alexis says:

    But what do you think? What is the proper role of trust in the Christian life? Is it possible to trust God too much?

    Just being honest, I have an extremely difficult time trusting in God rather than myself. And I realize that this is the case not only for Christians, but those of the world. In order for our trust in God to prove sure, we must be tested. This is why James said to count it pure joy whenever we face many trials and temptations. For believers this should be encouraging, because we are guaranteed joy and the Word of God also tells us that in His presence is the fullness of joy. So that means when we face trials and temptations correctly, with an eternal perspective, we are guaranteed to see God!
    But is this easy? No way at all. Trusting God too much will seem idiotic to the world and those with a mind set on the things of this world. I don’t think we can ever trust Him to much…if anything we don’t trust Him enough and the world may not voice it, but they are really waiting to see those who do trust God too much make a difference in the world through the power of God.

  71. OMNICELL says:

    The problem concerning the cake: They do not know God, nor do they have a relationship with him..

    God does bring cakes.. He brings cakes when the little child in me has given up hope and wants to depart, and unless I see something from God that I can believe, I will not believe: at the last straw and Im checking out from this world.
    If the child in me needs a cake, and the only thing that will work is a cake for me to believe. A cake of some form shall appear for sake of saving my life.. Other then this, why would God bring me such things.

    I receive cake from heaven when Im on my knees to God praying 20 times a day.. I pray to survive. Without Gods well spring to feed me I die.

    I must rely on God for everything. This is an understanding and awareness. It does not need to be proven. I go to God all day long because I love God and he loves me, He is the keeper of life, when I understand this planet has nothing!, where am I suppose to get the spiritual food to eat. And, If I am to concentrate on spiritual matters, do I not need real food as well. God must bend the Universe in my favor that good things come my way… Both spiritual and practical.

  72. A.J. says:

    Well, my opinion on this is that people who trust too much on God to make everything manageable do not have the proper amount of confidence in themselves to make life as solid as possible. Personally, I break it down like this: God, as a Creator, is like Frankenstein; He thought it would be neat to make all these creations so He could show how “awesome” He is. God failed to take into regard the fact that human beings are not ‘objects’ to be toyed with, that human beings do not have a ‘God ON/OFF’ switch, and that we can be manipulated at His will. However, God does take this liberty with the human race and, if the evanngelicals are correct, then most of us are going to hell because of His mistake. I could go on and on, because I am somewhat of an intelligent fellow, albeit I was born again (which I regret to this day), but I think I’ve said enough. When those precious humans who do find heaven within themselves and discover that God is really the Enemy, then I’ll be satisfied. I feel cheated out of a proper human life because God had to interfere.