Transition is never easy for me; even the smallest of transitions cause me pain. I recently moved from one area of my city to another. Though I am still in the Vancouver Metro, it is still new in many ways. I live in a new home in a new neighborhood with new neighbors who live a different lifestyle than my previous neighbors. And all this change is hard for me.
But while it has been painful and hard, I never felt the overwhelming desire to despair. Instead, I felt the gentle and firm hold of my God. Psalm 73:21-24 ESV says, “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward You. Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory.”
There was pain and grief in my heart, but there was also a strong assurance that I was not walking alone, that God was with me. He was my strength and my sustainer day by day. He has used this season of transition to see the beauty in trusting Him.
Previously, the word trust always came with pain. Hard circumstances and the very thought of it made me exhausted. But just as we cannot control when it rains in Vancouver, we also cannot control when life changes. And as life changed for me, God began to change the thoughts and emotions that were connected with the word trust.
He began to show me that no, happiness and trust do not always walk hand in hand, but joy and trust do, and He is calling me to a place of depth where joy and trust walk together.
One of the passages that I am studying on trust is Jeremiah 17:5-8, which says:
Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,Jeremiah 17:5-8 ESV
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Background on Jeremiah 17
The entire book of Jeremiah is a collection of his words to the Israelite community as they went through life circumstances, specifically their life before and during Babylonian captivity. He prophesied judgement, called out their sin, encouraged them to turn back to God, and cried out to God on their behalf.
If we think of the book of Jeremiah as seasons, chapter 17 is the beginning hints of spring. All before this chapter, we read words of judgement and despair. It is like a dark, cold winter. But then this chapter comes and with it, hopeful hints of spring.
In this chapter, Jeremiah calls out Judah’s sin, their misplaced trust. Instead of trusting in God, they have trusted in man. It is a hard chapter, yes, as he discusses the harsh realities of their sin, but it is also a hopeful chapter as he discusses the good realities of turning back to God. These two realities are seen as he compares and contrasts the person who trusts in man and the person who trusts in the Lord.
Compare and Contrast: Trust in God vs. Trust in Man
Jeremiah does not lace his words with grace as he compares, but instead uses harsh language to get the point across that misplaced trust is a serious matter and affects us holistically.
He then describes the one who trusts in God as like a tree planted by water, without fear of harm. There is a rest and strength here. The one who trusts in the Lord – who operates, serves, and lives from a place of hope – has the ability to see the goodness of the Lord. .
He describes the one who trusts in man as like a shrub in the parched desert where no one else lives. The one who does not trust in the Lord – who operates, serves, and lives from a place of hopelessness – does not have the ability to see the goodness of the Lord. Discouragement, hopelessness, a spirit of distrust… it all is sight-impairing and causes blindness to the goodness of God. There is a loneliness here, a hunger and a thirst. Hidden within these sentences is a phrase that caught my heart: “and shall not see any good come” (Jeremiah 17:6). The one who trusts in man is described as someone who cannot see any good come.
Now when my heart caught this, my mind immediately went to a specific area of my life – my role as a missionary. He convicted me that when I serve out of a place of hopelessness and distrust, ministry is dreaded and joys are far away, but when I choose to serve from a place of hope and trust, ministry is delighted in and joy is near.
Where did your mind go? Did your heart immediately lead you down a painful path? Or maybe you smiled, having walked recently through a hard path with Him at your side? I do not know where your mind took you. I do not know what your life is like, what you do for a living, what makes your heart weep, who you do life with… but I do know that the God who cares for your heart and who longs for you to experience the depths of His goodness. So as you sit and ponder your life and where you need His renewal, where you need Him to realign your sight, there are a few things I want you to consider.
Growing a Deeper Trust
- Consider how the Bible defines hope and trust. Hope and trust are directly connected with the belief that God is sovereign and in control. When we believe this, there is inward rest.
- Consider the source of our hope and trust. They are not something you can conjure up within yourself. They are not something that you can try so hard to have and force yourself into feeling. Trust and hope are not really feelings at all. They are something that comes from choosing daily to be in God’s word and sit with Him in prayer. Rather than using your strength and energy to pull these things out of you, focus whatever strength and energy you have into falling on the Lord and being with Him.
- Consider Who you are trusting. You have been saved by a God who is nothing like the little gods that people around the world are chasing after. Our God – the Most High God – is a God who is kind, who is good, and who listens. He is not a God who stands far away and who does not care for you. He sent His Son to die for you, for your life on earth and for eternity. Consider His character. Consider His faithfulness. Consider His ways throughout your life on earth.
- Consider His bigger plan. Even if you never know why, you can trust that His ways are higher and He has a plan. Mikella Van Dyke said of Paul, “Paul said that his circumstances turned out for the greater progress of the gospel. He said his God-given circumstantial limits served to advance the gospel. Paul was arrested at least three times and served around five and a half years of his ministry in prison – we see hindrance, God sees purposeful positioning”.
Encouragement for Today
My prayer is that as you consider these things, you will be strengthened. Even as I pray this, though, I know that life is not as much of the big moments as it is the little moments that make up each day. I know that you may feel hopeful now reading this, but later will battle with the enemy in the loud quiet that comes in the evenings.
Those are the moments where we really have to rehearse to our hearts that “His hold on us is strong” (Ezekiel 3:14) and that soon He will “lift us out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set our feet on solid ground and steadied us as we walked along” (Psalm 40:2) and that “even when my soul is embittered, He is with me” (Psalm 73:21-24). I encourage you to press into the Lord during those moments.
C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Press into Him and tune your ears to His voice because He is speaking to you. Here are some practical things that have helped me in those moments:
- Stay connected with your community. Remind yourself that you are not alone and know your people. Know who will pray for you and point you to Jesus. Go to them often and learn to be transparent and raw with them.
- Keep a gratitude journal. A lady once said, “Seeds of gratitude planted will reap a harvest of hope”. Psalm 116:17 reminds us that thanksgiving is a sacrifice at times. Choose to be grateful even in your hurt.
- Listen to music and sit with God in worship. Songs give words to what is in our hearts. Sing your emotions out to the Lord. Cry out to Him through song. Here is a playlist that I made during my latest hard season.
Prayer for a Deeper Trust
Father, You are a good Father. I know You sit with me in this painful moment and You have never left my side. May this truth cause me to have rest. I consider Your character. You are a God who sees and who cares. I know that I can trust myself into Your capable and all-knowing hands. Forgive me for the ways I have turned aside from You. Renew me so that I can trust You and experience the joy of Your presence. I long for the day when pain and heartache that come from hard circumstances will be no more, but for now I choose to rest in You and how You are using this situation to deepen our relationship and lead others to You as well.
Guest Blogger Bio.
Hi! I’m Brittney Burkeen. I am a missionary serving on the Canadian West Coast. Most of my life and ministry is with people from East Asia, and it is a gift from the Lord. Let me sit in a room full of Mandarin-speaking Chinese eating Japanese food and having deep conversations and my heart is absolutely content. I love deep conversations, flowers, and making traditions of little things . I think life is meant to be treasured and enjoyed, because it is all a gift from the Lord. Psalm 16:11 is my motto – “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of Your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever”. Living in sin brings decay, sadness, and unrest – but living with Christ brings life, gladness, and hope.