Trust was not an easy gift for me to give to people. For every new person in my life, I would clench my hands around the gift of trust for months before trusting them, even those who proved themselves worthy of it.
Trust is a gift from one person to another to show that the relationship is more than surface level. Trust is a gift that must be handled with care and cautiously guarded. Giving such a gift is sometimes a difficult sacrifice.
Like you, I do not like being hurt. I don’t want to lay my emotions out to bear for another person to exploit them. My stomach churns at the thought of telling someone a personal thought because they might not be able to be trusted with it.
What makes the gift of trust so difficult to give is that we have been hurt by others. Some of those people we handed the gift of trust to crushed it before our eyes. People we loved took that precious gift and abused it.
Broken trust ranges from broken promises, revealed secrets, unforeseen abuse, and unreturned love. People hurt us in ways we never could have fathomed. Some of those people attempt to pick up the shattered pieces of trust, others continue to stomp on it.
When we are broken and hurt by others, how can we reconcile that? After the pain we have felt, why should we risk giving such a precious gift away again? And what about God? How is He trustworthy?
Friend, we can learn to trust both God and others again. There is hope for restoration. But first, we must straighten our theology.
The Mix Up of Expectations
In learning to trust both God and others, I needed to exchange the expectations I had put on people with the expectations I had on God.
Wrong Expectations for People
We expect our friends and loved ones to show us kindness, respect, affection, care, and gratitude. We expect that they will know how to handle our hearts well.
While this is a somewhat fair expectation to have, one we may even voice, there are some expectations that we may not realize we have placed on these same people. Secretly, we expect them to never falter in these ways; there should be no angry outbursts, impatience, carelessness, or mistakes. Perhaps without realizing it, we have put the expectation up that our friends and family should be perfect.
Sometimes this expectation continues to take further steps and the friendship becomes an idol. Christina Fox diagnoses a few warning signs of friendship idolatry:
“If a friend spends time with another friend and we feel jealousy or anger, that friendship is most likely an idol. When we expect our friends to prioritize their life around us, our friendship is an idol. When we need to hear affirmation from our friends, our friendships have taken first place in our heart. When we fear losing our friendships, our friendships have become idolatrous.”
Though we should always hope for the best in others (1 Corinthians 13:7) we should not put them on a pedestal they are unable to reach. We must be careful where we place our trust. The Bible warns against this:
“Thus says the Lord, cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant.”Jeremiah 17:5-6 NASB
If we are hoping in man to fulfill our hearts longings and needs, then we can expect to be crushed.
The man who puts his hope in the right place has reversed results:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”Jeremiah 17:7-8 NASB
We must guard our hearts so that we do not carve idols out of our friendships. Such idolatry not only harms us and sets us up for pain, but also is detrimental to our friendships. We must distinguish the roles that our friends should play in our lives from the role God holds.
Wrong Expectations for God
When people hurt us, especially those we have a tight or intimate relationship with, we lower our expectations for them. Sometimes this leads to lower the standard for all those we interact with, even God. Rather than trusting in God, we see Him as capable of causing us the same pain others caused us.
But I have some reassurance for you friend. God is not like us. He has not and will not be tainted by sin as we are. God is perfect.
“Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He instructs sinners in the way.” Psalm 25:8 NASB
“To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Psalm 92:15 NASB
God is not like our friends and family. Though they may love us and care about us with all their heart, their love and kindness is limited. But God’s is not. Any belief we have about God that does not line up with what has been proclaimed in Scripture needs to be exiled from our minds. Do not allow your heart to dwell on the human expectations you have placed on Him.
I know this is not as simple. It is a battle in which we must choose to put off the lies our heart whispers to us. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NASB). Your heart will lie to you, so you must be ready to defend the truth you know about God with Scripture.
I fight this battle. When anxiety begins to put a tight grip around my throat and the fear squirms in my stomach, I have to fight to believe what I know in Scripture.
Study God’s character as it is revealed in the Word and let that be your heart’s meditation.
The Faithfulness of God
“You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.” Psalm 40:11 NASB
“Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” Psalm 36:5 NASB
“The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4 NASB
“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed and said, ‘Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments’”Daniel 9:4 NASB
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB
“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3 NASB
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8-9 NASB
This is but a small list of the verses that declare God’s faithfulness to us. That is not to mention the many stories within the Bible when God proved Himself faithful to His people; consider Joseph (Genesis 37-45), the story of Job, God’s faithfulness to Israel throughout their many sins, Naomi and Ruth in the book of Ruth, and Peter when he denied Jesus (John 18:15-27; 21:1-19).
God is trustworthy. Others fail us, but God never will. We can see in the stories above that though some of those people stumbled and trudged through various kinds of suffering, God had not abandoned them. Rather, He had the right plan for each of them, a plan that would proclaim His glory to those who would see Him prove His faithfulness through them.
You can put your hope in God. You can trust Him with your life, your family, your worries, and your heart. He will never break your trust.
Learning to Trust Again
When we set our expectations for others and God rightly, we can learn to trust again. We can trust others, understanding that they will at times fail us. We can hope for the best in them, but we must guard ourselves from making them idols. We cannot expect them to fill the role of God.
But when those people do fail us, we can turn to God in our pain and cry out to Him, because He is faithful. He listens to our cries and He understands our pain.