Trust in God
by William Nicholson, 1862
"When I am afraid, I will trust in you." Psalm 56:3
It is very desirable to be valiant in the Christian course. There is enough in God and in his promises of grace to make us so. Fear is frequently the result of unwatchfulness, negligence, or spiritual declension. It must, however, be conceded that some people have great and formidable trials, which makes them afraid. Others possess a constitutional feebleness of mind, which frequently engenders imaginary fears which are very distressing. Fear, if indulged . . .
is destructive of happiness;
is a bar to progressive holiness;
gives the Adversary undue advantage, because it robs us of our strength, and produces debility and unfitness for the discharge of spiritual duties.
I. The Particular Season Mentioned:"When I am afraid."
The life of a Christian is not uniform. He does not always feel joy. The road in which he travels is not always easy and pleasant. The life of a Christian is as chequered . . .
as the journey of a traveler,
as the voyage of a mariner,
or as the warfare of a soldier.
It is alternating joy and sorrow, fortitude and fear, etc., etc.
1. The Christian is sometimes afraid that he has no saving interest in Christ. He is so conscious of imperfection and unworthiness, that he can perceive but little evidence of his union to Christ. He may be afraid that his conversion might have been mere excitement. Then how poor are his services, how cold his love, how ineffective his zeal!
Such mental exercises are distressing, though even they are frequently an evidence of spiritual life; for a carnal man has no such doubts; matters of such vast importance never give him anxiety.
2. He is sometimes afraid of the performance of holy duties. The minister fears the pulpit and its duties; another fears the exercise of prayer the duty of giving faithful reproof, etc. etc., and thus the fear of man, and the fear of our incompetency, may bring a snare.
Duties too great for us as creatures, should lead us to trust in God. 2 Corinthians 12:9. Besides, God "remembers our frame," etc.; he expects from us only according to our ability and circumstances. The best services performed on earth would be rejected, but for Christ, our Mediator.
3. He is sometimes afraid that he is not included in the covenant of grace; not one of the elect; not a predestined child. Such fears are produced by thinking on what we imagine God may have purposed, rather than on what he has revealed. But the vital question is, Do I believe in Christ? Do I love him? For all who believe in Christ, and love him, will be saved.
4. He is sometimes made afraid by the aboundings of error. When Popery raises its deformed head; when Atheism and Infidelity stalk through the land; when there is a departure from pure evangelical truth, etc. etc. This is a time which demands the exercise in the text, "I will trust in you."
5. He is made afraid by the conflicts in which he is called to engage. It may be . . .
from persecution and the tongue of slander;
from Satanic suggestions.
What trial is here! What grace is required! Human resources avail not. "I will trust in you."
6. He sometimes is afraid that he will finally be disowned by God; that his imperfections, his sins, his guilt, will finally prevent him from reaching his heavenly home. Frequently he loses sight of the fullness and freeness of Divine Grace. This is a time to "trust in the Lord." Romans 8:31, 39.
7. Lastly. He is afraid of death, that grim foe, that interrupter of all plans, schemes, business, pleasures; that destroyer of all bonds of endearment; that consigner to the dust! Hebrews 2:15. O fear not! trust in the mighty Conqueror, Christ.
II. The Exercise Necessary in the Season of Fear:"I will trust in you."
To trust is to depend upon God for help; for deliverance from guilt, danger, and distress; for comfort and eternal life, which he has promised in his word.
1. Trust in God implies a knowledge of his character. "Those who know your name, will put their trust in you." Psalm 9:10.
2. It implies faith in Christ. No one can approach God, and avail himself of his perfections, of his promises, and of his interposition — without faith in Jesus, the way to the Father. See Ephesians 1:13, 14. Faith in Christ is constant, the habitual life of a Christian. "The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me!" Galatians 2:20.
There are times when an extraordinary exercise of faith is required.
3. It implies the abandonment of trusting in self, or in any human power, for that which we need. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God!" Psalm 20:7
4. It implies an application to God in those particular seasons of fear, mentioned in Part I, by faith and prayer. See Psalm 27:12-14; 34:4-6. He has delivered, he does deliver, and will deliver.
The circumstances of the distressed one should be brought before the notice of our heavenly Father, and committed to his gracious management — all our concerns, family, trade, the Church, etc. A man should manage his secular concerns, his family affairs, his spiritual duties, according to the directions of the Scriptures — and leave the sequel to God. He who forms no plan, nor makes any exertion, is chargeable with folly; for God blesses us through the means and measures we adopt. And he who acts, and trusts not in God, is presumptuous. Human exertion and trust in God, in reference to worldly matters, are intimately connected.
5. It also implies patience. A disposition of mind to wait — humbly to wait the Lord's good pleasure; and reconciliation to the Divine will in disappointments and cross providences. Job 13:15.
6. Lastly. There is great encouragement to trust in God:
from his liberality, Romans 8:32; Psalm 84:11;
from his ability, James 1:17;
from his relationship, Psalm 103:13;
from his conduct in all ages, to those who have trusted in him, Genesis 48:15, 16; Psalm 37:25.
The happiness of those who trust in the Lord is great, if we consider:
their safely, Psalm 125:1;
their courage, Psalm 27:1;
their peace, Isaiah 26:3, 4;
their character and fruitfulness, Psalm 1:3;
their happy end, Psalm 37:37; Job. 5:26.
Let these beautiful Scriptures be considered, and who can forbear exclaiming, "Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust!" Psalm 40:4.