By Ward Shope
Probably every family develops or passes on silly sayings to the next generation. When my father wanted to encourage his children to eat something green like broccoli or Brussel sprouts, he would tell us that it “would put hair on your chest.” I never understood this as a motivating factor, and judging from my personal experience, the efficacy of the act of eating these green vegetables for the intended result never bore much fruit. Honestly, at my age, I’d settle for a few more hairs on my head.
When our children were young and wanted to put some kind of condiment on their food from a squeeze bottle (such as ketchup, mayonnaise, syrup, etc.), they would often place the tip of the bottle on their food, thus leading to messes at the end of the bottle. Or if they wanted to pour something out of a container, they would rest the container on the edge of the glass, thus presenting the risk of overturning the very glass they wanted to fill with refreshment. “Trust gravity” became a way of reminding them that when you pour something out over something, the first something will actually fall on top of the second something. You don’t have to force it to fall. It just does.
I’m no Newtonian physicist, but I pretty much know that gravity works every day and everywhere. It explains why apples fall from trees and the Earth stays in its revolution around the sun and why we can play catch. To say, “Trust gravity” is silly because everyone does – with nary a thought about it. Gravity works.
We spend a lifetime learning that we can trust God’s character like that. He is always merciful and just and loving and righteous. He never acts contrary to that. He is never vengeful, arbitrary, hateful and evil. When I doubt him, and question what he is doing in the world, or in the lives of those I love, or in my own life, I usually end up messing up the tip (or more) of my life – or spilling whatever he has poured into me.
The Bible is filled with stories of those who sometimes trusted God’s character, and at other times did not. But God’s faithfulness to fulfill the promises he gave them is never in doubt any more than gravity’s force. He is incredibly loyal, patient, and forgiving.
Granted, it is more complicated with God than gravity. Gravity is physics. God is Person. We don’t tend to question “why” when gravity works. It just happens. God’s character is always the same, but his wisdom is often confusing to us. Trusting God does not guarantee a problem-free life of comfort and health. In fact, the only One who completely trusted him all of the time, just like we trust gravity, wound up being crucified.
Yet this was the ultimate example of God fulfilling all the aspects of his character. Jesus’ death and resurrection destroys the power of vengeance, arbitrariness, hate and evil, just as it establishes his mercy, justice, love, and righteousness. When we understand that, trusting God begins to be an assumption. And when God does finally fulfill all his promises, encouraging someone to “trust God” will sound as silly as “trust gravity.”
Jeremiah 31:33-34: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD.”