About a month ago, my husband and I were talking after our post-dinner devotions. I was telling him how I felt like I was lacking in my faith walk—like I was going through the motions, saying that things between God and myself were good when in reality, I was treating Him more like a friend who I’d lost touch with (but still loved very much).
I think we often over-simplify the Christian life. We boil it down to nice Bible verses and lots of prayer. We tend to focus on the “My burden is light” portion (Matthew 11:30) and not the “in the world you will have tribulation” part (John 16:33). So, when life throws a curveball that challenges and changes your faith in God, leaving you feeling empty, what can you do?
My curveball was one that I saw coming: for about five years, I’ve known that my now-husband would be heading to seminary. I was excited about it, and I still am. When we got married this past August, I knew we’d have a quick, domestic honeymoon that would transition into our move to Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. I knew all of this, yet I was still unprepared for the reality of the change in our lives.
I expected the move to be like my move to college, where I clung to Jesus amid three-hundred-person lecture halls and my freshman mentality of “do I even deserve to be a student here?” But it wasn’t. It was easier to see everyone studying the Word and learning more about theology than to actually participate in it—I could simply sit there saying, “Yep! I'm helping my husband do that!” But I was letting my personal walk with the Lord fall to the wayside.
My parents are teachers, so my entire life has always been structured around the flow of the school year. Being a newly graduated newlywed in my first full-time position without the familiar structure of that flow hit me like a ton of bricks. And since I wasn’t investing in my walk with God, I didn’t lean on Him and tried to rely on myself. Soon, I felt empty.
How did I shake off these feelings? If I’m being honest, I’m still working on it. Change takes time. But I know our trust in God isn’t based on how we feel about it, so I started digging into Scripture. Specifically, I studied and looked to the examples of biblical figures. I saw what God’s promises in times of change are, and I also saw what He does not promise me: He never promised that I wouldn’t miss my old job at the University of Michigan’s department of psychology academic office or that I wouldn’t miss our bar in the Depot Town of Ypsilanti (if you know, you know). He didn’t promise that I would settle into a new flow quickly. I had to investigate God’s Word to see the promises He had made to me.
And I needed to trust that the promises He made in His Word are true.
Strengthening my trust in Christ didn’t end with me just looking to the Word (though that makes up a large chunk of it). I also needed to focus on being present in my walk. I needed to participate in worship and not just go through the motions. Each Sunday before the Lord’s Supper, I quickly pray that God would give me the strength to know I can approach the throne of grace with confidence. And every time, He meets me there. My husband and I started going to the Bible study at our church that is geared toward our life stage. This has helped us to start participating more in our current church community. This has all helped my trust in the Lord to grow and helped me get out of the way and submit to Him as the guiding force in my life.
You see, I needed to put some intention into trusting Jesus. One of my college mentors once said that you are never stagnant in any relationship—you’re either building trust in that relationship or it’s backsliding. Just as reaching out to a friend when you’re having a rough time helps trust to flourish, praying to Jesus helps you rely on Him as your Comforter, Teacher, and Savior. Digging into His Word strengthens your relationship with God as the Lord of your life.
And it is work. I’m not saying in any way that being the most dedicated church-goer or Bible study participant will save you from your sins, because Jesus’ gift of salvation in His death and resurrection alone can do that, but I know that for me, in particular, reading my Bible, remembering to pray, and participating in worship is work. But it is infinitely worth it.
Maybe you’re where I was a few weeks ago. Or maybe you haven’t thought much recently about your trust in God. Either way, evaluating that trust can be a helpful way to check in on your relationship with Him—to rely less on yourself and more on Him so that trust can grow.
See how nine biblical figures were guided by God, and grow your trust in Him.