It seems to me one of the fractures we are experiencing in our society and world today is a lack of or loss of trust. We have in the past placed an enormous amount of trust in the institutions of our society; schools, government, medicine, legal, financial, and religious. All of these institutions, and more, operate at their best when people feel they can trust and believe what they are told.
In recent times, we’ve seen a great many instances where institutions have broken the trust placed in them. When these fractures occur, it becomes very difficult to keep wholesale belief in what is being held out to us as true and factual. When authority and confidence are abused and misused, the cracks in trust become wider and wider.
When trust is in short supply, we begin to question everything and become suspicious of what we are told. You’ll remember in the TV series, Dragnet, Sargent Friday would say, “Just the facts, ma’am.” He didn’t want any superfluous commentary or opinion. He needed to just know what was observed. From gathering the facts, Sargent Friday was able to deduce how a particular event occurred.
When I was growing up, facts were facts, that’s it. Either something happened/was said/was witnessed, or it didn’t or wasn’t. Simple, easy. Logical conclusions and inferences can be drawn from agreed-upon facts.
In recent times, we’ve heard the term used, “alternative facts.” In other words, “I don’t like what the accepted facts infer or show, so I will introduce alternative facts to prove what I believe.” The problem is, facts are facts, whether we like them or not. We may not all agree on what the facts indicate, but the bare-bones of the facts should be indisputable.
Trust is built and maintained when we see the character of a person or institution being tested and we find what they say and do to be in concert with what they say.
I love licorice. I recently purchased two batches of licorice from a website that promises the best quality licorice available. There were two types of black licorice I was interested in trying, Finnish and Australian. What the company said about each peaked my curiosity. The licorice arrived, in 4-5 days as promised. When I opened both packages to taste a piece of licorice, I was delighted. They indeed looked very fresh as if they had just come from the confectioner’s table. As I tasted and savored each piece, the appearance of freshness was validated by my tastebuds. One kind was considered to have a stronger licorice flavor, and indeed it did. This company made a huge impression on me. Everything they promised turned out to be exact and true. I feel I can trust this company in the future. They didn’t overpromise and then did not deliver.
Too often in our lives, we find trust is something hard to come by. When trust is broken, it becomes very difficult to trust again. We find that to be true in relationships, in how we view our government, our church, our community, and basically anyone we have dealings with.
Where I’m going with this is about where we can really place our trust. I’m going to trust the government generally speaking, but I reserve the right to also see all the facts and decide for myself. I trust our schools to teach the truth of the subjects they present, not colored by their own opinions. Helping the students to learn the facts and draw their own conclusions. I trust religious institutions to impart faith in ways that allow the adherents to form their own beliefs.
In the end, I realize I can place trust in these things, but I also must keep a cautious eye and ear. There really is only one place I can put my total and complete trust. That trust has to have been found to never have been violated. That trust has to have stood up to testing time, and time again. That trust cannot be based on the fine print, or shadings of the facts. The kind of trust I’m talking about is one that has stood the test of time.
The only sure thing in my life, and in your life is the love of God. I trust that God loves us more than anything in the universe. God has never forsaken me, nor left me utterly alone. God is there when I wake, when I sleep, when I work, when I play, when I eat when I am being my best self and my worst self. Through everything I endure, God has been present and supporting me. Even when I’ve done the worst possible things, God loves me. So, do I trust God? You better believe it.
On May 24, 1738, John Wesley found this same trust informing his life and his belief. In his journal he wrote; “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” John had been in church all his life, he had been baptized and professed his belief in God. It was, however, at this moment that he began to feel a real trust in God.
Do we trust God? It would be easy enough to say yes, but do the facts bear it out? Do we trust God with our most intimate self? Do we trust God with our finances and employment? Do we trust God in our relationships with others? Do we trust God to guide our decisions? Trusting God is more than mere assent, it is living our lives in such a way that we know God will be with us. No matter what happens, God is with us. No matter what we do, God will love us. We will always matter to God.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,