What Does It Mean to Trust God?

If you’re like me, you probably bump into a certain “gap” in your life from time to time…perhaps more often than we like to admit. It’s the gap between what I EXPECT God to do and what He’s ACTUALLY doing. I call it my “Trust God Gap.” My “Trust God Gap” shows up when I ask myself, “What does it mean to trust God in this area of my life?”This representing whatever I’m struggling to trust God with at that particular moment.


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The “Trust God Gap” looks different for all of us. And if you’re trying to figure out what your Trust God Gap is, just answer this question: What does it mean to trust God in ____________? Whatever you put in the blank is the label (or name) on your Trust God Gap. You might have answered the question like this:

  • What does it mean to trust God with my relationships?
  • What does it mean to trust God with my job?
  • What does it mean to trust God when someone mistreats me?
  • What does it mean to trust God when somebody lies to me?
  • What does it mean to trust God with my money?
  • What does it mean to trust God with my time?
  • What does it mean to trust God with a really big decision I have to make?

I don’t know what you put in your blank, but the good news is that God provides direction to our question. Proverbs 3:5-7 says,

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.”

So what is Solomon saying in these three simple verses? Let’s unpack it.

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart – The word “Trust” means to lie helpless, face down. It’s actually a picture of a servant who is waiting for his master’s command so that he can respond in full obedience. In other words, the focus of trust is submission. Solomon’s advice is: submit your heart in full obedience to God.
  • Lean not on your own understanding – To lean is to prop yourself up against something. According to Solomon, man’s wisdom (or understanding) cannot support the weight of our lives, challenges, or decisions. God’s wisdom, on the other hand, is like a firm tree with deep roots, able to support the weight of our lives as we lean against Him in full trust. Man’s wisdom is like a piece of balsa wood. It’s simply too flimsy to prop up our lives.
  • In all your ways acknowledge Him – When Solomon says to “acknowledge Him,” he’s not telling us to give God his hour on Sunday mornings or to say “grace” over our dinner. God’s not looking for a wink of the eye or a tip of the hat. Instead, God wants us to invite Him into every area of our lives. Acknowledgement is an act of recognizing God’s full Lordship in our lives.
  • He will make your paths straight – Our temptation (and our tendency) is to pick a path with the expectation that God will approve of it. That’s not how God works. Rather than picking a path and asking God to bless it, God has already chosen a “bless-able” path. And when we choose to trust Him, lean on Him, and acknowledge Him, His path becomes clear. God doesn’t bless “our” path. He blesses “His” path and invites us to walk on it.
  • Do not be wise in your own eyes – It’s as if Solomon says, “I’m not sure you got what I just said, so I’m going to say it again. Listen up! Don’t lean on your own understand…don’t be wise in your own eyes.
  • Fear the Lord and shun evil – Solomon concludes with a challenge to “fear the Lord.” Fear doesn’t imply being scared. The word “fear” means to revere God, His wisdom, and His ways. And to “shun evil” means to avoid everything that brings a wedge between us and God. Proverbs 16:6 provides a direct link between fearing God and shunning evil: “Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.”

One of the best examples in Scripture of somebody who trusted God is Job. Job was a wealthy man who lost everything—sheep, children, health, and possessions—even though he was faithful to God. In fact, if Job answered our “Trust God Gap” question, he might have said, “What does it mean to trust God when you lose everything?” And when he lost everything, like many of us, he started asking “Why?” “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11) That’s a bad day!

Yet, despite everything that happened to Job, what was said of him in the very first verse of his book remained true throughout his life: “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1).

Job came to the realization that knowing God is better than having answers to all of our questions. And in the end, God restored Job and made him twice as prosperous as he was before. When Job faced his own “Trust God Gap,” his response was to ultimately fear God and shun evil. So, we could interpret this verse to mean:

Submit your heart in full obedience to God. Don’t prop yourself up with human wisdom and understanding. In every area of your life, acknowledge God and act according to His wisdom, and He will make the right path–His path–clear to you. Don’t be wise according to your own wisdom. Instead, reverence God and His ways and avoid every kind of evil and sin.

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So what do we do when we face our “Trust God Gap?” According to Proverbs 3, our response is clear: TO TRUST IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THEN ACT. Let that sink in…to trust is to acknowledge then act.

Sometimes we reverse the order and act then acknowledge. We act in our own wisdom, then acknowledge that we messed up, seeking God’s forgiveness and redemption. Other times we act, and then acknowledge God by asking him to bless our action. But true trust doesn’t reverse the process. True trust begins by acknowledging God, His wisdom, and His ways, and then choosing to act on what we’ve acknowledged. 

Trust begins by acknowledging God and His wisdom, and then acting on what we’ve acknowledged. Click To Tweet

  • To acknowledge God without acting on His wisdom is nothing more than winking at God.
  • To act without acknowledging God is nothing more than self-reliant trust.
  • But to acknowledge God’s ways and then act on them is to truly trust in God.

So, What does it mean to trust God with whatever you wrote in your blank? In other words, what are you putting in your “Trust God Gap?” When we “Acknowledge then Act,” we put TRUST in our TRUST GOD GAP. ACKNOWLEDGING God and His Wisdom and then ACTING on God’s Ways is how we ultimately close our Trust God Gap. I further expand on this topic in my article, “How to Trust God in the Unexpected.”

Question: What insights would you add to how to respond to the “Trust God Gap?”

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