Trusting in the Lord: In Theory and Practice

Leap of Faith

I’m curious what trusting in the Lord amounts to in the lives of BCC’s readers.

I hadn’t thought about it much myself until a relative shared the following anecdote. The family was out shopping when the kindergartner asked if it would be possible to stay in the car with Jesus. No, came the reply which the child protested, “But why! He always watches over me and keeps me safe!”

Certainly the child’s experience aligns with scripture and modern revelation where we learn that trust in the Lord may result in release from prison and a new start at life; enlightenment and joy; a purposeful, supremely happy eternal existence; freedom from debt; an abundance of missionary opportunities; and comfort when sorrow, misfortune, or tragedy strike. And according to Nephi, trust in the Lord pays remarkable dividends—”God will give liberally to him that asketh,” including, no doubt, protection from harm or incident in a well-lighted suburban parking lot. At least it wouldn’t facially unreasonable to expect such protection since according to the testimonies of the prophets the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, omnipotent, mighty to save, with all power in heaven and earth.

But in the end, the child wasn’t permitted to remain in the car with Jesus, a development that despite the foregoing didn’t strike me as particularly unreasonable. I mean, I have a child about the same age and I’m sure not going to leave her in the car alone—do I even need to explain why? But why would trusting Jesus with my child for a few minutes be a bridge too far while trusting that events thousands of years ago made possible our reconciliation with God be a viable way to structure my life?

I haven’t figured that out yet, but I have a couple of ideas. Maybe the proximity of potential negative consequences looms greater in the former case than in the latter, causing me to go ahead and use my fleshy arm to drag a wailing child into the grocery store for a stress-filled round of shopping. Because I’m short-sighted, I’d worry more about a kidnapping or concerned citizens calling the police than I would about the state of my soul before the judgment bar.

Then again, maybe acting in the here and now to be a responsible parent when it would be easier to live life footloose and fancy-free evinces trust in the Lord that there’s some long term benefit to, say, keeping one’s young offspring within arm’s reach. I mean, it’s not like the people in the accounts linked to above did nothing as a result of their trust in the Lord; on the contrary, they beavered away and helped create the conditions for good things to happen. How does that saying go? “Pray as though everything depended upon God. Work as though everything depended upon you.” So trusting in the Lord doesn’t mean being a passive participant in your life, though it’s still not clear to me where the line between trusting in the Lord and the arm of the flesh is or should be drawn.

To date the only conclusion I’ve drawn is that “Because I trust in the Lord” is not the conscious reason for much of what I spend my days doing. It’s kind of sobering in light of what I would consider my fundamental trust in the big Gospel picture, actually, so I’m thinking about how to better align the mundane decision of daily life with my conviction that there’s a good reason for doing so.

Anyway, how about you? What does trusting in the Lord look like in your lives?


  1. I feel like the main things I’ve done “because I trust in the Lord” lately have been regarding timing of having children. And I guess going on a mission, though that was a decade ago.

  2. For me trusting in the Lord is servicing in a church calling that is extremely time consuming and for which I have zero desire, and that I think actually hurts my career and relationship with my family. Spending hours upon hours at church with few tangible blessings.

  3. My experience and observation of others’ lives have led me to conclude that God is generally a very hands-off parent, and his intervention in our lives is what, from our perspective, we might well call “random.” This seeming randomness has led me to make such observations as “God protects his missionaries . . . except when he doesn’t.” You can insert pretty much whatever you want in the first half of that observation and it holds true. “God heals people of cancer . . . except when he doesn’t.” By the same token, “God will protect your child in the car . . . except when he doesn’t.”

  4. I grew up with a very large dose of the “Pray . . . Work” proverb, and a somewhat lesser dose of checklist Mormonism (“do these things and all will be well in the end”). The result is that I most often see trust in retrospect.
    The few times I have thought about trust in the Lord explicitly and in advance have in common spiritual experiences that were personal, powerful, and off script. When the direction is in line with what my parents and Sunday School teachers taught me to expect, trust doesn’t come into my mind. When the direction amounts to “turn left” when everybody always before said “turn right”, then I have to trust.

  5. I was raised on the idea of trusting in the Lord after all you can do. So that trust usually comes in situations where I have no control over the outcome not in things like which way I should drive to work or if I should leave my child in the car with Jesus :-) Love that anecdote – children do make us think about the why of our decisions, don’t they?

  6. Anas ibn Malik reported: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I leave her untied and trust in Allah?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Tie her and trust in Allah.”

    Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2517

    “Fatalism has both a genuine and a false side — the genuine aspect of fatalism involves effort, whereas the false involves waiting lazily for God’s grace. Why embrace the false side; why not embrace the genuine?”

    “Shams e-Tabrizi: Rumi’s Perfect Teacher” pg. 79

  7. Toad – you’re the scoutmaster too? Cool!

  8. Brother Sky says:

    I’m with Wally on this one. I don’t even know what the phrase “Trust in the Lord” actually means. Trust him to do what? Save me when I’m drowning? Heal me if I contract an incurable disease? Help me be able to throw a hook at the bowling alley? Trust that he’s got my best interests at heart even though he’s never told me that he does? I suppose if I didn’t feel that God’s presence was such a random thing, I might be more able to parse this phrase the way that most other LDS folks seem to mean it, but I really don’t spend time worrying about it that much. I try to live my life as fully, with as much joy and connection to people as I can. I hope that pleases the Lord, but if it doesn’t, he hasn’t let me know either way, so I feel like I’m generally on my own. YMMV.

  9. God is fully aware of our suffering and still sent us to this world for a purpose so we can trust that whatever happens, no matter how bad it gets, God believed it was worth it to send us here.

    That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t alleviate suffering the way the Savior taught; we should. But it also means we should trust in him no matter what happens because he knows what we’ and others are going through and in his infinite wisdom and love he still sent us.

  10. Jason K. says:

    I think that we expect trust in the Lord to convey safety. Given that Jesus, by definition, trusted in the Lord completely and still ended up getting crucified, that expectation seems unwarranted.

  11. I’m from a family with a great deal of mental illness. I don’t have it myself, but it’s hit members of three generations within the extended family with depression, bipolar, homelessness, drugs, etc. Several of us healthy members have spent years trying to help those that suffer. Trusting in the Lord is less about what He does for me and more about what I accept I can not do. I let go of taking all the ‘fixing’ onto my own shoulders and let Him shoulder the burden. I let go of being all things to all people and trust that He already is.

    This is less a mechanic of how I live, but more of an attitude. It’s also deeply related to meditation – that moment of letting everything go (to Him) and accepting the universe the way it is. I don’t know how else to explain it.

  12. For me, “trust in the Lord” means trusting that what his gospel requires (believing Jesus’ words about how to live my daily life, loving and doing good, changing who I am to reflect Him, working with Him, making and keeping covenants with Him, following the promptings of the Holy Spirit) and then proceeding accordingly will not automatically make my life safer, happier, smoother or easier, but it will enable me to do more good in the world than if I did not do so.

  13. Thank you all for your responses; you have provided much food for thought.

  14. rebeccadalmas says:

    What a smart kid.

  15. Theory: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
    Practice: In early years trusting the Lord appears to have been a matter of trusting what parents and others told me were His thoughts and directions. This was sometimes comforting, but as an adolescent, sometimes frustrating as so many testified they “knew” this or that, when I “knew” nothing, seeing as how God didn’t talk to me in answer to prayer or otherwise. Then there were a couple direct and intense spiritual experiences that did communicate certain basic things, but never a “burning in the bosom” or a “stupor of thought.” Otherwise, I can remember only one spiritual “nudge” to do something, at least only one I recognized as such, and that was not anything I perceived as of great import. As I learned, for example, that knowing JS was a prophet did not entail knowing either when he was acting as such or that I understood him correctly or that he communicated a revelation adequately, and as I experienced damaging mistakes made by Church leaders, I also learned that, for me, trusting in the Lord cannot mean simply trusting what others tell me are His thoughts and directions. As, for me, recognizable answers to prayers are extraordinarily rare, trusting in the Lord requires leaning to my own understanding. Some have claimed at times that I have been “inspired” when I thought I was simply doing my best to figure out and act on what should be done. I don’t know if they were right or wrong. I am reasonably confident that if the Lord directs my paths when I acknowledge Him, He does it so subtly that I don’t know it is happening. And so, I’m with ReTx on trust in the Lord being an attitude — of humility (which I’m not particularly good at), and acceptance of the world in which I find myself, and hope that something good will eventually come of my efforts and the Lord’s action or inaction.

  16. To the kindergartner, I say, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” (also maybe vade retro…, depending on the kid…)

    But seriously, the Bible frowns on asking God for specific deliverables, as it were. It’s one of the few Old Testament rules that Jesus explicitly endorses. Prayers of thanksgiving, prayers for general blessings, fine. Asking God to take care of you while your parents shop? Not good. (Though placing one’s soul into God’s care is fine, I don’t think that’s what the kindergartner quite had in mind.)

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