by Ken Roberts, ASF Teacher, EPC Past-Moderator, and CCPC Elder
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” (Proverbs 3:5, NIV)
If you think there’s more to the verse, you’re right. But if it ended the way I just ended it, it would still be good theology.
“I trust the Lord…”
If someone wrote on a piece of paper, “I trust the Lord…”, how might he finish the sentence?
He might say, “I trust the Lord to heal my cancer.” And by that he might believe that there is a cause and effect relationship; that if I trust the Lord to heal my cancer (that’s me doing my part), then God will heal my cancer (that’s God doing His part).
If A then B.
If we’re honest, what we want in our praying is a formula “If A, then B”. There are plenty of examples of this in life. Because of the predictability of gravity, if someone jumps off the roof of a fifty-story building, the outcome is nearly certain. If A, then B. If I stick my hand in a pot of boiling water, I will burn my hand. If A, then B. If I never put gas in my car, I’ll run out of gas. And we could cite other examples where this “If A, then B” formula works.
But “I trust the Lord to heal my cancer”, that’s not quite as certain. We wish it were, and we hope it will work when we mouth the words, but it is not as certain as gravity.
I trust the Lord…to protect my children.
I trust the Lord…to heal my marriage.
I trust the Lord…to keep from getting COVID-19.
Think for a moment, what’s the difference between the sentence “I trust the Lord” and the sentence “I trust the Lord to…[give me what I want]”?
The second is conditional. And isn’t that the way many of us pray?
Larry Crabb in his book, The Pressure’s Off says, ‘We’re never more deceived than when we think we’re living for God, but in fact we’re living for His blessings.”
When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998, Barb and I were flooded with anxiety and fear. The days were filled with uncertainty. What we wanted was clear, but we have known too many fine Christian men at our church alone who died from prostate cancer.
Is it fair to assume that all those who were cured from cancer had prayed that God would heal them, and that all those who died from cancer prayed that God would not heal them but end their life? Because isn’t that the only explanation that gives everybody what they prayed for?
No, of course not. But then, how do we pray? What kind of prayers really please God?
Well it’s simple; not easy, but simple. It’s called surrender. We must reach a point where we can say, “I trust you”, regardless of the outcome. Not “I trust you to heal me”.
Even now that I have apparently been spared from prostate cancer (nearly 22 years where PSA levels have remained nondetectable), I am careful to never say or leave the impression that I am cancer-free because I trusted God.
Barb and I reached a point where the desired outcome wasn’t a condition of our surrender.
So how do you end the sentence that begins with “I trust the Lord…”?
It’s simple–you end it with a period.
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