There are many lessons to be learned from reading Holy Scripture, but in my opinion, one of the most important lessons to be learned is that we humans should learn to totally trust in God to do what’s best for us, at all times, no matter how bleak the situation. Of course, the caveat that goes with that directive is that we should be obeying His Holy Word as well.
No one likes being told what to do all the time, but it’s different with God. With total trust in God, we can never fail in the long run, because He will always direct us to do the right thing. The Bible says in Matthew 5:48 to “Be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.”
How can sinful, fallible humans be perfect? By striving to be great Christians, giving copiously of time and treasure to the poor, avoiding sin, and relying TOTALLY on the will of God in our lives. His perfect goodness will thus overcomes our sinful nature!
Let’s take a look at a few examples from the Old Testament.
God told Abraham in Genesis 15:5 that “his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky,” and yet here he was eighty-six years old with a wife, Sarah, who was seventy-six years old. Regretfully, Abraham and Sarah decided to take matters into their own hands, instead of totally trusting in God. Sarah told Abraham to have sexual relations with her slave girl, Hagar. Abraham probably smiled broadly and agreed, and Ishmael was born.
But Ishmael was not to be the heir that God had promised. God eventually appeared to Abraham and Sarah about fourteen years later, and told them that in the next year Sarah would conceive a natural son of Abraham and Sarah, even at their advanced age. Because Abraham didn’t truly trust in God, as evidenced by his relations with Hagar, God put him to the test once Isaac got older. God told Abraham to go up Mount Moriah and sacrifice Isaac in a holocaust. Abraham agreed to do this, even though he knew that he would be killing off his only male heir, which would seemingly negate God’s promise to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. As Abraham was about to plunge the dagger into his son, an angel of the Lord stopped him, because God now could see that Abraham TOTALLY trusted in God, even though he didn’t understand God’s plan. And thus God’s promise to Abraham was fulfilled completely, even though it took up decades of Abraham’s advanced age. Would that we would all be that patient! We should all remember that God works His will in His time, and not instantly like we would have it.
Taking the Promised Land
Following the golden calf incident, the Israelites were told by God to go invade the land of the Canaanites and kill them (Numbers 13-14) so that they could have this land for their very own. The Israelites had already seen the power of God, who had divided the Red Sea for them to escape from Pharaoh’s army. They knew that God was on their side, and that He would protect them. Moses sent twelve spies into the land of the Canaanites to get the lay of the land. When they came back after 40 days with a large supply of the fruit of the Promised Land, a majority of the spies said that the Canaanites were too big and too strong, and it would be best for the Israelites if they DIDN’T go to war with them, thus contradicting God’s command. Only two spies out of the twelve, Caleb and Joshua, said that they could take down the Canaanites, because of God’s protection. All of the other Israelites who heard the negative report agreed with it, and they started to murmur and rebel against Moses for ever bringing them out of pagan Egypt into the barren desert. As a result of their disobedience and lack of trust in Him, God swore that only the children of the current generation would ever get to see the Promised Land, along with Moses, Caleb, and Joshua. They would now have to wander in the desert for 40 years, one year for each day that the spies were in the land of Canaan. None of the grumblers and cowardly spies ever got to see the land flowing with milk and honey, as they died in the desert for NOT trusting in God to give them victory over the Canaanites.
The Book of Job is a great book to read in order to understand how God tests our faith to see if we really believe in Him, or if we are just paying Him lip service because things are going great in our lives. God even uses Satan for this purpose. The God-fearing Job has his children killed and his property taken away from him by Satan, and he even has to undergo boils on his skin. His wife tells Job to “curse God and die!” Job refuses to do that, and instead worships and blesses God. He has three friends which come and tell him that he must have done something sinful to cause all of this pain in his life, but he refutes them. Finally, God talks to Job. Job asks him why all of these calamities happened to him, and God tells Him that these things aren’t his to question. The response of God (“Where were you when I created the earth and formed the seas,” etc.) should be mandatory reading for all of us very small humans who have the audacity to question the infallible will of Almighty God, who created us out of nothing, because He loves us and wants us to be with Him in heaven for eternity. The lesson here is that everything that happens to us from external forces, good or bad, is the will of almighty God.
Internalizing Trust in God
So how can we apply these lessons to our lives today? We should always know that God is our loving Father, and that if we TOTALLY trust in Him to take care of us no matter what the situation, we are obeying all of the Commandments, AND we are trying our best to live out the Christian message with our thoughts, words, and deeds, then we have a spiritual hedge of protection around us (Job 1:10). This hedge can only be taken down by our sinful actions, which proclaim that we actually prefer the ways of the devil to the ways of God. This was true in the Old Testament, and it is certainly true today for us, who now wander through the very dry and hazardous desert known as secular America.
Another lesson learned is that God will allow Satan to test us throughout our lives, to see if we REALLY love God and obey his Holy Word, or if we are just giving Him lip service. Like the Israelites in the desert, like Abraham, and like Job, our DEEDS speak a lot louder than our WORDS!
Affirmation from Saints
“I tell you that you have less to suffer in following the cross than in serving the world and its pleasures.”
— St. John Vianney
“He who trusts himself is lost. He who trusts in God can do all things.”
— St. Alphonsus Liguori
“I am afraid that if we begin to put our trust in human help, some of our Divine help will fail us.”
— St. Teresa of Avila
“Consider seriously how quickly people change, and how little trust is to be had in them; and hold fast to God, Who does not change.”
–St. Teresa of Avila