Day 2: Do We Trust God? (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
Today’s Passage: Jeremiah 17:7-8
There is much talk today of TRUST. To lead our organization, we need trust. To have a healthy family, we need trust. To us our credit cards, we need trust as we slide them into hundreds of devices a year. The list goes on.
I won’t bore you with a treatise on trust, but let me ask, “What is it like when you are in a relationship and you are not quite sure you can “trust” the other person?”
Why do I ask? Because, we are reading The Book of Ruth and David J. Atkinson, in The Message of Ruth speaks of the erosion of our belief in God’s Providence. My sense is that this can be even further simplified. It is our Trust of God that has eroded.
To say we, the creatures, don’t trust the omnipotent and omniscient God is for us to challenge the Creator. Perhaps we should show more respect. I am not being flippant. The reality however is that today we live in a world that does not implicitly respect those in authority—in fact we are implicitly suspicious of them—attitudes towards God are no different.
Suspicion then is the starting point. The moment we are disappointed with something in our lives without a proper view of God’s Providence, our downward angle of our attitude steepens and our rate of decent accelerates.
Consider three forces* in particular which erode our trust in God.
Turning to trust other gods
As humans we are full of fear. Fear that we won’t be loved, happy, or have enough food. Like today, the Canaanite culture surrounding Ruth was absorbed by these fears. Consider prosperity. Their fears rose and fell based on the harvest. Satan stood by ready to suggest an impostor: Baal. If you know your Scriptures, then you know that humans were not spectators. The level of depravity in the worship of this so-called god is disturbing. Unfortunately, rather than trust God, the Israelites were often given over to Baal worship.
We can almost be sympathetic. We have fears, too.
The lure today is not worshipping the idols of old—no, we have new ones. We have governments, companies and policies that stand-at best in a vacuum, and at worst- against God’s design. We believe so strongly in them, that not only do we subordinate God and God’s Law to them, we don’t even bring any of this before God. Instead we build our families, communities, and societies around them, bowing down and worshipping.
Just as the Israelites forgot how God had cared for them in the wilderness, we also forget God’s care for us. When challenges arise (because they always do, John 16:33) we also too easily turn to these false gods and forget that obedience to God is always a key factor in social strength, harmony and prosperity.
Perhaps the largest god, the one seeking to supplant Almighty God—is humans. The dominant manner in which our world processes events, looks for solutions, etc. is described with a number of labels: post-modern, post-Christian, etc. For simplicity, let’s call it humanism. In Ruth, you will see the characters face this exact issue.
And we, non-Christians and Christians alike, put our faith in…ourselves.
We have put humans into the group of other gods.
Humankind is master of our own destiny. The ultimate source of value are material things. The natural order as comprising the whole of reality. “Man-centeredness in human relationships, materialism in human values, and the belief that this world is all there is – these are the characteristics of modern man’s faith.”*
Here is the bigger problem. Jesus’ followers think this way. It has crept into our psyche. Many ethical decisions are taken on the basis of a Christianized hedonism (‘what makes us feel so good must be God’s will’), or a Christianized utilitarianism (which measures ‘what God wills’ only by the amount of ‘benefit’ an action brings).*
To put it crudely, it is an attitude which regards God in terms of his usefulness rather than the object of adoration and love.’*
We trust ourselves, more than we trust God.
Shaken by Evil
Perhaps the quickest, most destructive force regarding our trust in God is evil.
Daily we are inundated with the news of wars, rumors of wars, and more—all these pose the question: ‘Where is God?’
And the penetrating blow to trust can be, not the evil which is “out there”, but that which invades our world—and it does/will. (In this world you will have trouble…
The challenge of course is, “Do we remember that Jesus has overcome the world?”
Trust in God, belief in God’s Providence says that God is there, God cares, God rules, and God provides. Obeying God is best. Faith in such a God undergirds every chapter of Ruth.
As we begin Ruth, I want to go back to the question I started with, “What is it like when you are in a relationship and you are not quite sure you can “trust” the other person?” And add to it, “Where do you trust God, and where do these other forces invade and erode your faith?”
Finally, “What will it take for you to trust God more?”
I want to suggest that reading Ruth with this mind can strengthen us in the area of trusting God.
*The Message of Ruth (The Bible Speaks Today) by David Atkinson