Daily Wisdom

Meditations on the Book of Proverbs

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart

   and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways submit to him,

    and he will make your paths straight.

 Whom do you trust? This is the primary issue, to which most of your beliefs are secondary. A person who trusts in science will believe what the scientists claim, not because he fully understands their conclusions but because he trusts their authority. From the driver on the road beside you to the surgeon who cuts you open, trust is essential in nearly every interaction.

 Trust is not only expected from us, “but there are situations in which we demand it of others. There are times when we can do all that a fellow creature needs if only he will trust us. In getting a dog out of a trap, in extracting a thorn from a child’s finger, in teaching a boy to swim or rescuing one who can’t, in getting a frightened beginner over a nasty place on a mountain, the one fatal obstacle may be their distrust… We ask them to believe that what is painful will relieve their pain and that what looks dangerous is their only safety.

 When others can’t understand your reasons, you ask for their trust. If everything were explained and understood, only agreement would be required. But we all know how tedious agreement can be to achieve, and there are many things which cannot be understood until they are experienced. This is why faith is a virtue, it gives us courage in times of uncertainty.

 If there was ever anyone whose ways cannot be fully understood, it is the Lord. Yet he has shown himself to be worthy of our trust. You may not like what he demands of you, but you will not regret doing it anyway. You may not understand why he allows things to happen, but you can be confident that there is a reason even if you can’t see it. You may fear him like the surgeon, as his work in your life can be painful, but you can trust that he knows what he’s doing. “For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.”

 Consider the beliefs you hold on the basis of trust. Every historical claim, every promise, every appeal to authority depends on it. It can be overwhelming, but what’s the alternative? “Lean not on your own understanding” is not only wise advice, it is entirely practical. To trust no one but yourself is to stunt your own growth, to avoid discomfort is to atrophy. How miserable it is to be suspicious of everyone, to be limited by your own understanding! Humility leads to peace, but pride causes anxiety. 

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