Confidence in God
By Lenora Grimaud
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Hope, trust, and confidence are so interconnected that they are almost one in the same. The virtue of “hope” enables us to put our total trust in God, and the more we trust in Him, the more we have confidence in God. In order to understand what confidence in God really is, it is helpful to understand the meaning of hope, trust, and confidence.
Webster defines hope, trust, and confidence as:
Hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation; trust; to desire with expectation of obtainment; to expect with confidence; someone or something on which hopes are centered. [“Our hope is in the Lord, in whom we trust”].
Trust: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed; to place confidence—depend.
Confidence: a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances; faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way; the quality or state of being certain: certitude.
In order to have self-confidence, we have to hope or desire something, first. This hope or desire leads us to trust in ourselves. The more we trust ourselves to do something, the more our self-confidence grows. But, this paper is not about self-confidence, it is about Confidence in God. Our confidence and trust in God must be greater than our confidence and trust in any human being, including ourselves.
Only God is truly worthy of our confidence and trust. All humans fall short; we are fallible and weak, and limited in our self knowledge. Even the greatest Saints and those who have proven to be trustworthy cannot be completely, and at all times, worthy of our explicit confidence and trust in them, unless our faith and trust is in God, first.
Children will ask their parents, “Don’t you trust me?” Wise parents know in their heart that the answer is “no” and think to themselves, “My child, if you knew as much about human nature as I do, you would not even ask such a question.” The most they can do is to trust their children’s intentions. St. Peter declared to Jesus, “Though all lose faith in you, I will never lose faith.” (Mat. 26:33). He also said: “Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” (John 13:37).
Peter had good intentions, but trusted in his self rather than in God. Before the words were hardly out of his mouth, he denied Jesus three times. Jesus did not choose his Apostles because they were worthy of his trust—they all failed him. He chose them because of their faith in God. They were humble enough to be able to receive the gift of faith from God—from the Father. God calls us to love everyone, but he doesn’t call us to trust everyone. There is a vast difference.
Secular Humanism says that relationships fail because of a lack of trust. Humanism does not acknowledge God, so trust in ourselves and others is necessary. But, relationships do not fail because of a lack of trusting others or ourselves. They fail because of a lack of love, commitment, and trust in God. They fail when we only trust ourselves or when we only trust in others.
We trust in others when we no longer trust in ourselves, and we trust ourselves when we no longer trust in others. We can’t do both at the same time, unless our trust is wholly in God. Some people trust in their selves and in others, but because they do not trust in God, first, they have no discernment. They often trust in others when they should trust in their selves and trust in their selves when they should trust in others. They are like the “blind leading the blind.”
We can trust in the goodness we see in others, but we cannot trust that they are “all good”—only God is good. We cannot trust that they have no sin in them or that they are incapable of losing goodness. We cannot trust that they will never hurt us or betray us. The same is true for our own selves. We can trust in the virtues we see in others, but we cannot trust that they have no vices, or that their virtues will never diminish.
We can trust that others love us by the way they treat us and others. They may have good intentions but until they can live them out, they are not free to love. However, even the greatest lovers do not love perfectly. We can trust that others love us unconditionally, but without the grace of God, this is not possible. We cannot trust that they will always love us unconditionally, or always forgive us, unless God gives us the grace to trust them.
We can trust in the ability, strengths, talents, and gifts of others, as well as ourselves, but we cannot trust that these abilities, strengths, talents, and gifts are perfect or omniscient—that they are not lacking or limited—or that they will last forever. Those who put their trust in the Lord do not take ownership of any of their virtues, gifts, talents, or strengths. They know that they are not permanent. They look to the Lord to meet the needs of everyone, through others as well as their own self. They are open to the Lord working through others. They have faith that the Lord is working through others, in spite of their vices, weaknesses, and poverty.
We can trust in the “truth” of others—their integrity, beliefs, values, and actions—but only if they are in conformity with the “truth” of God. The same is true of trusting in our own truth. We cannot trust that what we and others call good, today, we won’t call evil, tomorrow. We cannot trust that what we and others call evil, today, we won’t call good, tomorrow. If we trust in the “truth” of ourselves or others when it is not in conformity with the truth of God, the relationship, as well as ourselves and others will be destroyed.
Proud people trust in their own goodness, virtues, abilities, strengths, talents, gifts, and truth, seeing their selves as better than others, and are not able to trust in the goodness, virtues, abilities, strengths, talents, gifts, and truth of others. Fearful people trust in the goodness, virtues, abilities, strengths, talents, gifts, and truth of others, seeing them as better than they are, and are not able to recognize or use their own gifts and talents.
Marriages, families, friendships, and even Religious Communities are falling apart because we put our trust in people, rather than in God. When our leaders and loved ones fail to live up to our expectations—to be God for us—we are crushed and abandon the relationship. Certainly, we should choose spouses, friends, and leaders who are trustworthy, faithful, and like-minded, but that cannot be the reason we stay in those relationships.
Eventually, they will all let us down. We will even let ourselves down, when we fail to live out the unrealistic expectations we set for ourselves. We stay in the relationships because of love and commitment—and because our trust and confidence is in God, “who works all things for good.” We have nothing to fear or to lose. Our self confidence and trust in others needs to be balanced, and based on wisdom and knowledge. We can only trust others to do what is in their power to do, in accordance with their nature and their gifts.
People leave the Church for the same reasons. They don’t trust the teachings of the Church—the Word of God—because they trust too much in their own understanding, or in false teachers who say what they want to hear. They reject the Priesthood because of individual priests that failed to be worthy of their trust and adoration. If our trust is in God, we will not turn any human being into an idol of worship—even the Pope. We honor the Pope and respect his authority because of his Office—because Jesus chose him. We can obey and trust him as long as he doesn’t abandon Jesus Christ and his teaching.
If we have placed all our trust and confidence in God, we will know the truth, and “the truth will set us free.”
There are three major reasons for the breakdown in Marriages, Religious Communities and associations, and the Church. First, some of those in authority have major control issues. They abuse their authority by taking authority over others that has not been given to them by God, or even their Office. They use their authority over others to implement their own agendas instead of God’s Will; to fill their own need for glory, honor, and power. They are often given over to pride, presumption, and tyranny over others.
The second reason is that many people have dependency issues. They give away their power to those who are stronger or are in authority. They abandon their personal responsibilities and are continually tossed back and forth. They are often besieged by fear, anger, guilt, and depression; and resent those in authority, and those to whom they have given their power. The third reason is that many have issues of competition and jealousy. Instead of using their gifts for the common good, in mutuality and interdependence, they compete with those in authority and those who appear to be more gifted.
These are not evil people. In fact, most are very good people, but people who are very human; people who have been caught unawares when they were put to the test, because they failed to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, and trusted in their own selves instead; people who have lost their faith or no longer trust in the Lord.
Many marriages and friendships, as well as communal relationships, are ended before they even begin. This is because there was no authentic relationship to start with; because of rash commitments without knowing how to make choices; because of not really knowing the others that are involved in the relationship before making a commitment. In addition to this problem, we are all constantly changing and growing.
We are different people from day to day. Spouses will never be the same people they were on their wedding day. The same is true for all relationships. One thing is necessary—that we share the same “truth,” and that, that truth is the truth of God. “It takes three to get married”—a man, a woman, and Jesus (Bishop Sheen). A marriage without God is doomed from the start. The same is true of friendships and Religious Communities. There has to be a common mind and a common purpose producing a union in love and convictions. (Phil.2:2).
If a believer is yoked to an unbeliever in marriage, eventually, both will become believers, or both will become unbelievers, or the marriage will come to an end. When the marriage ends, both the believer and the unbeliever are severely wounded. For the marriage to continue until death, the believer would have to receive extraordinary graces, and the unbeliever would, most probably, distance his/herself from any kind of intimacy in the relationship. This is true of Religious Communities, as well. In some Religious Communities there are many “Lone Rangers” and a lot of dysfunction: Authoritarianism and dependency.
The answer to these problems can only be found by putting our total trust and confidence in God, and abandoning ourselves to the will of God. God’s will is manifested in his only Son, Jesus Christ. God’s will is for us to love everyone, and to lay down our lives for the sake of the Kingdom of God—lay down our will when it is opposed to God’s will; lay down our own ambitions, plans, and agenda when they are not motivated by love; lay down our own wants and needs when they take priority over the good of others; and even to lay down our personal rights and dignity when love calls for it. When we are in union with Jesus Christ, we know God’s will for every situation we are placed in. We know who we can trust and who we can’t trust. We can confidently stand our ground, and neither be tyrants nor slaves of anyone.
If our trust and confidence is in God, we have nothing to fear—even if the people of America were to elect an Anti-Christ as President of the U. S. Love would call us to give this elected official the honor and respect due his Office, and to pray fervently for his conversion of heart. We would continue to obey God rather than man, but we would not run away; unless God led us elsewhere. Perhaps, this Anti-Christ would be another St. Paul, who was converted by Jesus, rather than his disciples. This is possible because our trust is in God, who alone is worthy of our trust.
St. Paul claimed that he was a “prisoner of Jesus Christ,” while he was in prison: “So I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you pagans…” (Eph.3:1). He did not see himself as a prisoner of the Romans because he was a free man, and “chained” to Jesus. As Scripture says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” If we are in union with Jesus Christ, God is for us, and nothing can bring us down or rob us of life—not slavery, prison, or even death. Of this, I am certain, and this is Confidence in God.
Post a comment.