Monday, March 27, 2017

Trust Issues

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and do not lean on your own understanding...
Proverbs 3:5

trust - firm belief in the reliability, truth, 
ability or strength of someone or something

Here's the problem with forgiveness:  I can forgive someone and I can choose not to talk to others or myself about the offense, but does that mean that I have to actually trust them again?  

The best way to answer this question is to put it in spiritual terms.  So, I am imagining God, sitting on His throne in heaven, talking with Jesus, and pointing down at me. Here's how the conversation goes:

The Father:  Yeah, see Kristen right now?  I really love her but I've got to be honest with you, Jesus - I don't trust her as far as I can throw her.  You know how she keeps _______________ (fill in the blank with whichever sin in my life you want to use)?  I forgive and I forgive and she just keeps doing it again and again.

Jesus:  I know.  What a disappointment.  I don't blame you.  You can forgive but you'd be a fool to ever trust her again.  You're just setting yourself up for hurt again.  

The Father:  I've even applied the forgive 70x7 rule on her, but she passed 490 about two decades ago with this one.  (Shaking His head) Will she ever learn?

Jesus:  Pretty safe answer to that is, "No."  

Does that sound like a reasonable conversation between the Father and the Son?  Thankfully I don't have any scriptural support for that conversation, but rather I can look to the gospel to dispel any doubt that God not only forgives, but restores, rebuilds and transforms.  In Romans 7, Paul describes the conflict between his flesh and his new nature in Christ - they are constantly battling for his will. Sometimes he has success but often he fails. When he cries out for help, he turns to the cross:  "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me from from the body of this death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (v. 24, 25)  Jesus not only set us free from the bondage of sin, but He fights the battle so that we can have victory here and now.

One of the songs we sing at church says, "Our God is fighting for us always, Our God is fighting for us all" - the whole song is about the fact that God is mighty and strong to save.  It's not talking about fighting against persecution but rather sin's hold on us - if He doesn't give up, why would we?

Okay, back to forgiveness and trust. Now that we understand God is not disgusted with us in heaven, follow my train of thought:  
  • You have been hurt repeatedly
  • You choose to forgive, but in forgiving, it opens you up for more potential hurt
  • God demands that we be good forgivers, because He understands that if we don't forgive, it creates a root of bitterness in our hearts - bitterness, anger, frustration, and a lack of trust 
  • Though it's hard to trust a sinner, it's not hard to trust a faithful God - do a word study on "trust" in the Bible.  We are explicitly told to trust in the Lord over and over again...
  • When He tells us to do something, we can obey, fully putting our trust in the One who is conforming us into His own image
  • Because we trust the Lord, we can trust someone who has lost our trust - knowing that if they fail again, God will step in the gap and work through the circumstance for our own good and for His glory
I feel the need for a quick disclaimer - some sins have consequences we can't take away.  A father who sexually abuses his daughter can be forgiven but he has lost the right to a relationship with her or her children.  Sometimes sin brings consequences and if you are struggling right now about whether to restore trust to someone or if there are consequences that prevent that, then you need to talk with your small group leader or a pastor to make sure you are not trying to deal with someone's sin, rather than letting God do it.  

That being said, in MOST cases, we can willing place ourselves back into a vulnerable position, knowing that our trust is in the Lord, that we are walking in obedience to His will and that He alone has the ability to change the heart and actions of those who have hurt us.  And friends -  He can do that through the testimony of our ability to forgive!  

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