There’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Trust and obedience go hand in hand: you follow the Lamb wherever He goes because you trust Him. Can we ever meaningfully obey God if we do not first trust in God?
It’s impossible to please God without faith (Heb. 11:6). Faith, the state of trusting, always comes first. God starts us off by giving us each a portion of faith (Rom. 12:3). Obedience that pleases Him flows from that gift of faith in Him. I cannot obey God if I cannot trust Him. Then, for my further growth in obedience to His Word, I must ask Him to increase my faith, my trust in Him (see Luke 17:5).
There are two different kinds of trust. There’s functional faith in someone’s abilities that derives from believing that they have the skills to accomplish something. But that may not mean that I’m at peace knowing deep down in my heart that someone is for me. Only relational trust can take care of that concern. Relational trust is imperative for the health of any relationship, natural or supernatural!
So often we know that God is able, but question if God will truly come through. Will the Almighty Creator take care of my family and me? When I survive a tragedy, did God take care of me? The challenge is not so much to my confidence in His functional capacity, but to my relational trust: if He could have prevented some tragedy, but didn’t, can I know that my God is for me?
I found myself here a few years ago. Every area of my life seemed to be under attack. The last straw was a diagnosis that required specialized surgery to take care of a rare health disorder. I prayed, “God, if You are out there, I need You to help me, because I can’t see, hear, or feel You; I seem to be slowly losing hope, and, to be honest, my trust in You.”
WHAT DID I DISCOVER?
I discovered precisely this: that my trusting obedience to Him is the fruit of His love and kindness to me. As Paul put it: “Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4, NIV). God’s kindness instills and develops in me ever higher hope and deeper trust in Him. To hope and obey again after despair, you and I must experience God’s kindness again.
It’s God’s kindness, God’s everlasting kind of love, rather than any human virtue, that leads to renewed intimacy with Him. Meaningful obedience cannot be extorted apart from trust. Nobody can make you trust them if you cannot see that they care about you. So, yes, pray that you obey and keep the faith. But perhaps even more importantly, pray with me, “God, will You please overwhelm me with Your love again?” First, be loved. Then tell me how your trust in God grows and how your obedience naturally, or perhaps supernaturally, follows new love—as happened to me after my surgery and healing.