The Cost of Trust
Watching the NFL playoffs last night, you see trust active when a team leaves an injured quarterback on the field, believing that even hurt he gives them the best chance to win. In that scenario, it turned out to be false. Though the election season is far behind us, you see trust active in people as they stump and defend and trade verbal blows over the candidate they carry. The end of the election is either an emotional boost to the winners or an apocalyptic bottom-drop for the defeated.
Trust is what propels us to support, advocate, prioritize and risk. Trust, trust, trust.
Though these are two examples that are no where near the same in impact and seriousness (my apologies to Redskin fans, but it's not the end of the world), they teach us a significant lesson about what it means to trust. More than that, for followers of Jesus, it teaches us the significance of where our trust is centered.
Psalm 146 has an incredible take on it:
"Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish. Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope in in the Lord their God..." (146:3-5a, NRSV)
This passage was quoted ad nauseum on Facebook the days following the most recent election, and the purpose was basically to say "Calm down, Christians. Remember who our trust is really founded on." I have to say that while on the surface it achieved that purpose, the amount of mental and emotional energy I still see displayed regarding the actions of an empire are staggering.
I see emotional let-downs over sports teams that are the same.
I see emotional let-downs over relationships that go wrong, over betrayal and dysfunction that seems to come out of every dark corner without even being called.
Hear me out, I'm not saying we shouldn't be sad when those things (people, systems, etc.) let us down. I'm simply saying that in our sadness we should begin to assess one very critical life sign:
Is the level of trust I placed in that person, system, etc. worth it when God Himself invites me to trust Him first?
I believe the day when the ragtag followers of Jesus in our country and others begin to see through the thin veil of superiority and stability that institutions and people display to us will be a day of emotional and spiritual renewal for us. If we can approach trusting another human being from the perspective of knowing that we are primarily safe and sound in our trusting of God we will experience that "life and life to the full" (John 10:10) that Jesus promised.
Trust costs us something, as humans. It is self-destructive then to invest a higher level of trust in something that is frail and wispy than in the God who is immovable.
How do we understand where our trust is? Here's a simple diagnostic: Think of the one thing that has troubled you and occupied your mind most in the last month. Perhaps it's something that caused you to have heated dialogue with another person or caused you to harbor anger towards a political figure or other institution. Now, take that situation and hold it up to the light of the God whom Psalm 146 says "...keeps faith forever." (146:6, NRSV).
Is the emotional, physical, and spiritual reaction you have had really worth it?