Written by Kenny He, Singapore
Illustration by Hui Zhen, @roughpaperunnie
We all know what it’s like to grapple with hurt or disappointment when our trust gets broken or when we find ourselves breaking someone else’s trust. Whether it’s keeping secrets for your best friend or meeting deadlines for your boss, trust is an important aspect of relationships—even more so when it comes to our relationship with God.
But what does it really mean to trust God? Here are three misconceptions I wish to dispel:
1) “Just have faith!”
Misconception #1: Trusting God requires no reason or logic.
Growing up in a Christian environment, I often hear this line used as an evasive reply to a believer struggling with doubts. Without a clear understanding of God’s nature and His promises, this statement alone can easily be misinterpreted as “reasons don’t matter, we should just blindly trust God”.
When I was younger, I would tell myself that anything that seemed to be beyond logic or reasoning must be taken by faith. But behind this facade of trusting God, I had so many questions that remained unaddressed.
Only when my friends started questioning me about my faith did I realise that there were so many things that I didn’t understand about Scripture. Thankfully, I had my mentor and friends who walked me through that period, who patiently addressed my doubts and imparted theological understanding. I decided then to read the Bible more, and after studying the events and contexts of oft-quoted verses, this gave me a deeper understanding of God’s character and the ways He works among His people.
Along the way, I’ve learned that our trust in God isn’t without reason—but is a firm belief in His ability and reliability that is 1) founded on the Bible, which reveals God’s character and His promises, and 2) enabled by the Holy Spirit (1 John 2).
The more we examine Scripture, the more it’ll deepen our trust in who God is—so that we will have the confidence to obey God even when what He asks of us seems inconceivable, the way Abraham did (Hebrews 11:18-19).
2) “Think of all the blessings God has given!’”
Misconception #2: God’s blessings in our lives makes Him worthy of our trust.
Although God certainly does perform miracles and bless us with certain things, the Bible shows us that it is only one of the many means that God uses to strengthen our faith in Him. The danger comes when we stake our trust and hope on miracles and blessings rather than on Christ alone.
There was a time when I became so hooked on gaming, that I would only catch up on my studying when the final exams approached. Worried that I would fail the module, I began praying hard during results week. At that point I trusted that God will perform a miracle and “deliver” me from this situation.
When I got on the student portal to check my results, I saw that I got a “D”. A borderline fail. I was devastated and angry at myself for not working harder, and at one point I even got angry at God.
It was then that I realised my trust in God had always revolved around how God can “deliver” me from undesirable circumstances. But perhaps that unanswered prayer was God’s way of teaching me what it means to truly trust Him.
Over the years, I have learnt that while our circumstances, emotions, and even these desired outcomes that we so often seek and pray for are subject to change, what doesn’t change is God’s love and promises for us (Isaiah 54:10). Instead of basing our hopes on what we want Him to do for our lives (in terms of our jobs, relationships, etc.), the most concrete thing we can pin our hopes to is what He has already done on the cross.
It was at the cross that He delivered us from the most hopeless circumstance we can ever find ourselves in—the grip of sin (Romans 5:8). That alone makes Him completely worthy of our trust.
3) “Jesus, Take the Wheel”
Misconception #3: Trusting God means I don’t have to do anything on my part
When we talk about trusting God, the line, “Jesus, take the wheel” often pops up. While I can appreciate how this statement encourages us to acknowledge and embrace God’s sovereignty (Rom 8:28, Col 1:16), it can also distort our understanding of what it means to trust God, and can fuel irresponsibility and even resentment towards God when things don’t work out the way we had hoped.
If we were to examine this metaphor closely, a wheel’s function is to steer the car in a certain direction. “Jesus, take the wheel” suggests that since Jesus is the one driving, we can just chill in the passenger seat and wait for Him to bring us to our next destination. And at one point in my life, I fell for that kind of thinking.
In my final semester of polytechnic, I was looking for an internship to complete the requirements for my studies. The struggle to decide on the “right” company was overwhelming, so instead of seeking help from my lecturers, I decided to let “Jesus take the wheel” by saying a short prayer, telling God that I would pick whichever company sent the first email by a certain date.
When the time came, I received no emails or offers, which made me realise that what I had done was an absurd way of “trusting God”. From then on, I started doing the necessary homework. When I ran into one of my lecturers, I mustered up the courage to approach him for advice, and was able to find an opportunity after more follow-ups. I then started preparing for the interview and finally managed to secure an internship.
I’m not saying that we should make decisions without praying and asking God. But trusting God—handing over the wheels of our lives to Him—goes hand in hand with being good stewards of what He has given us (Matthew 25:15-30). This means using the good gifts He’s given us (experience, skills, education, and the wisdom of our friends) to make decisions that would glorify Him, and then surrendering the outcome into His hands.
Trusting God isn’t something that we figure out instantly. But it is through our missteps, trials, and experiences that we learn what it means to trust God each day. As we journey through the ups and downs in life, let us not forget that we are never alone, and that through the Bible, God has given us all we need to know and trust Him.