Spiritual Reflections

A Thrust for Trust

I find it deplorable that for some people, trust has become nothing more than a condom brand.

And who is to blame? Trust the government — but how can we, amidst all the graft and corruption scandals? Trust in family — yet how can we, when relatives bicker and sue one another, when brothers hurt and kill each other, when parents fight or harm their own children? Trust in friends — yet how can we, when a fit of jealousy or misunderstanding can turn even one’s closest confidant into a backstabbing traitor, or simply abandon and forget about you? Trust in God — yet how can we, when all these evil continue to exist despite all our good-natured efforts?

Why should I trust?

I know I’ve broken trust with a lot of people in the past. I failed in my relationship. I let down a lot of clients. I did not meet my family’s expectations — and I was disillusioned by my hope in their support. I came into conflict with disagreeable church leaders. I was disappointed. I was frustrated. I lost trust.

Yesterday, I had an online conversation with one of our youth workers. Like me, the story was about a struggle of trust: should I tell my friends about my story, and hope they would understand me this time? Or maybe should I just stay away, because after all I would only get rejected or neglected again? And who can deny it — even I have guilty times when I am not in the mood to listen to someone’s sob story. Yet these are what creates the dissonance of trust among our relationships: we had given someone an intangible commitment, a beautiful fragile bond. And break them. 

How can we trust?

It’s actually interesting how we started trusting people. We just do. When an adult beckons a child to come closer, it’s not just an act of obedience – but also of trust. When we sit on a chair, we do so out of trust in the object and its builder. In transactions, both the buyer and the seller trust each other — one with a product worth its cost, and the other with authentic currency of equal worth. What made us trust others in the first place? Is it not logical, even practical and pragmatic, to doubt? Or is it not even wiser to always be cautious, suspicious of everyone else? Would it not save us countless problems if we always question others’ motives and intentions at all times?

What does it mean to trust?

It is often said that trust is earned. Yet, as it may sound true — is it really so? Is trust something we receive through merit? Is it a suitable reward for one’s deeds? How do we even prove our trustworthiness, when the mere fact that we need to provide some tangible evidence shows how we are already perceived as not worthy of someone’s trust?How can we trust them that after all our sincere efforts to win their trust, they will begrudge us of such mutual virtue?

It is on this contention that one cannot help but realize how God trusts us — fallible, corruptible humans. He created us, knowing our exact faults and defects; yet He entrusted His creation to us — every living creature and non-living matter. He made us stewards of nature, and I believe that if sin had not entered our world, we would have been stewards of the entire cosmos itself for all eternity! Yet as history shows, we fell short of that ideal. And for the first time [literally], we failed Someone’s trust.

But did He stopped trusting us? No.

He made a promise of sending a Savior for our sins — because He trusted us that in time, mankind would choose to acknowledge His trust and return to Him. He trusted twelve disciples to continue His work after Jesus Christ returned to the Father’s side. He trusted that those whom the apostles taught would also pass on this sacred trust of His Gospel, faithfully preserved in all its beauty and truth so that we here in the now-distant future would also enjoy this loving and ever-abiding trust of God.

Trust is not an imposition of a responsibility or accountability; rather, it is a revelation of it. We are not given trust in order to perform a duty or task. We are given trust because we are able to achieve something, to fulfill something. We trust despite all the gossips, the slanders, the murmurs, the hate, the criticism, the faults, the failures, the mistakes, the wrongdoings, the grievances. We trust because we believe in good, in righteousness, in hope, in the ideal — as God trusted in His own image that He placed in each one of us. A trustworthy image that no amount of sad history can change or destroy.

“A hope is more than resolve, and it is based on trust in a divine faithfulness that operates not only within history, but also beyond history.” —John Polkinghorne

What does it take to trust?

A sigh bravely heaved. A step confidently taken. A tear released freely. A smile sincerely given. A hand reached out. A heart made vulnerable. A life opened to welcome all.

The world we live in is dark and insidious — yet only because we lack the courage to give it back some light. As Edmund Burke states, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Let us stop fighting shadows within our own mind and heart as well as without. Thrust upward with faith. Thrust downward with resolve. And thrust forward with trust — and fully trust those who are on your sides, believing that in their own way, they are making a thrust to trust you, too.

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