Trust is defined in the dictionary as the “assured reliance of the character, ability, strength or truth of someone.” If we look around locally and globally today, it seems that trust is a commodity that’s in short supply. Not to attempt to glorify the past, for it had its own issues, I fondly remember my childhood and the trust that seemed to be a part of our everyday lives back then. I felt that the default perspective from people was that most folks were honest and weren’t out to cheat or mislead you. A handshake would seal a deal. If you forgot your wallet, the store clerk told you to pay on your next trip to the store. We went through our days generally trusting in the members of our community to be honest with us. In turn, we felt that being trustworthy was the way to conduct ourselves.
Current State of Distrust
A prevailing feeling has emerged, however, starting in the late ’60s, that fewer and fewer people and institutions are being forthright with us. A sense of wariness has taken over, with many surveys suggesting that most people feel that they themselves are honest but that most everyone else is not.
In college I was an anthropology major, and one of the takeaways from my studies of various cultures was that all societies depend on trust to survive. It’s the grease that makes the wheels of community run smoothly. While I’m not naive and I’m not advising that we trust every person in every situation, I do know that to live as though almost no one can be trusted has a paralyzing effect on everyone.
Despite concerns about our current state, as Christians we are assured that we can always trust in God. Our own experiences have shown us that, and the Bible provides many scriptures that also point to that fact. In Proverbs 3:5-6 we read, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” We can have faith and trust in a God who loves us and is always with us through every day of our lives. In times of uncertainty, fear, loneliness, hopelessness or any other need, God’s trustworthiness affords us the luxury of turning to Him and receiving His peace and comfort.
Restoration of Trust
Let’s turn again to look at that trust issue so problematic in our current times. Even though we won’t be able to trust the world the way we trust God, as a Christian I want and need to give people the benefit of the doubt. I feel that God is always giving me second chances to be trustworthy. I might mean well, but my actions aren’t always up to what I profess to do for God. Perhaps I should look at those around me and know that they are trying the best that they can too. They don’t always come through in what they say they will do either. All of us stumble from time to time, but we still consider ourselves to be people who can be trusted.
We know that we tend to find what we look for in life and that our mindsets and perspectives shape our interpretation of what we encounter. If we expect people to be untrustworthy, we might view their behavior as suspect, even when it might not be. Our negative attitude gives them no motivation to try to be honest. Let’s try seeing the image of God in the people we encounter each day. When we are truthful with others and expect them to be honest with us, they might just live up to our expectations. Perhaps we can regain a sense of trust in our communities by living trustworthy lives and by extending God’s love to others. If we can drop our cynical barriers of mistrust and negative expectations, we might open up our world to a more positive attitude of trust. In doing so, this can improve our opportunity to forge better relationships with those around us and allow us to share the love of God with others.
Psalm 9:10: Those who know your name trust in you; for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.