tightropeIt is easy to say, “I trust God.” It is harder to do it. We talk a lot about having faith, but I think it would be better if we also talked about having trust. Too often we mix the two. Faith is taking God’s Word to us and believing it. There is no faith without a direct word from God. To quit my successful job and go to Haiti as a missionary is not to have faith. Why? Because God has not spoken directly to me and told me to do so. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) Yet I have neither heard, nor read my decision within the pages of the Bible. No, it is not faith I show here, but trust. Trust that God will bring me through the decision I’ve made. Trust that He will lead me. Trust that He will protect me. Trust that even if I’ve made the wrong decision God will never abandon me.

This is why it is a shame when we call what should properly be trust “faith.” It is as if we are saying that this is God’s idea, not our own. And perhaps it is! But we don’t have that written in stone, nor has it been spoken directly to us. As people, we can always be wrong. As I said last letter, when we really want something, it is easy for us to “put words in God’s mouth,” so to speak, because we so want to follow Him and yet we also so want Him to answer in a certain way. But if we say we are “having faith,” we say that God himself has sanctioned our actions, and we do not know this is the case. What if we have made the wrong decision? What if God wanted us to go in another path? Have we not been false prophets, saying that “God has spoken,” when he has not?

No, our response to this sort of thing must be trust, not faith. When we refuse to engage in immorality, that is faith, for it is God’s revealed Word that we avoid all such things. When we marry Joe instead of Frank or Mary instead of Martha (assuming they are both equally good Christians), that is trust, for we look for God’s leadership in helping us make our decision, and then in God’s provision for helping us live with it, right or wrong. Let us separate in our minds once and for all the concepts of “faith” and “trust.” We do what we feel God is leading us to do, not what He has spoken to us and told us to do. This is not as satisfying as imagining that He has spoken and told us this directly, but He does not work like that with us, and so we must be content to have trust and not faith in such matters.

It is hard to trust God. If He came to us and said, “You will find My choice for a partner for you in November, 1997, and marry him/her in August, 1998,” we could say, “Great, Lord! I’ll be looking forward to that.” But He doesn’t do that, so we cannot respond in faith. Rather, we must trust Him to know what is best and to lead and guide us. In some ways, this is harder to do than to simply have faith. Faith is blind except for the revelation, but trust is blind without even a revelation!

In one way only could trust be said to be faith, and that is when we learn from the Bible that God is, indeed, trustworthy. Along this line of thinking, we could say that when we trust God we are having faith, for we are believing God’s revelation that He is worthy of that trust. Yet, in many ways, this is stretching our point. If we mix faith and trust, it becomes all together too easy to declare that God is condoning our actions, whether that is the case or not. And we do not often know for sure. Often, we are surprised how wonderfully things work out, and we are assured that we did, indeed, do what God wanted us to do. But sometimes our reasoning or our feelings may be wrong, and in this case it is not fair to blame God that “I had faith, and You didn’t respond.” Here we can trust God to help “bail us out,” so to speak, and to learn from our mistake. But if we make trust faith, we end up blaming God rather than leaning upon Him.

I could continue on this subject for some time yet, but I think I’ll cut it off here, and let you ponder what I’ve written, whatever it is worth. Feel free to disagree with me. What do you think is the difference between faith and trust? Do you think that someone can have faith without also having a direct revelation from God (which today is only through His Word)?

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