eople often bemoan all the problems and evil this world. But how often do we seriously consider the root causes, and check our own hearts to determine whether or not those roots exist in us?
I believe that one of the biggest causes of problems in this world is unbelief or lack of trust in God.
There are different types of unbelief. There is unbelief in God’s existence, AKA atheism. And then there’s unbelief among believers. That may sound contradictory, but this is a different type of unbelief, it’s not about His existence. A better way to describe this type of unbelief would be distrust – distrusting God’s promises, or His power or His intentions toward us. This is the type of unbelief I’m going to be focusing on here.
Let me give an example from the bible.
Abraham and Sarah (who were among the heroes of the faith, in Hebrews 11) initially disbelieved God’s promise that they would have a child, in their old age. Sarah’s reaction was to laugh or scoff at the idea that she would conceive a child, when she was past her child-bearing years.
That initial unbelief had disastrous results. Most of you know how the story goes. Abraham and Sarah’s lack of trust caused them to take matters into their own hands, and they decided to “help God out” by having a baby through their maid-servant Hagar. That union was outside of God’s will, they did it without asking God, but out of distrust that God would follow through on His promise to give them a son.
Their presumptuous act led to the birth of Ishmael, considered to be one of the forefathers of Islam. And of course the tragic family feud that I believe continues to this day, between Jews and Muslims, about who is the true heir or true “son of promise.”
There are lots of other examples, but let’s get to the list. Here are 5 reasons why distrusting God is the height of foolishness and a grave mistake to avoid at all costs.
1. Our faithlessness or distrust grieves God’s heart
Have you ever been in a situation – either face to face or online – where someone misinterpreted something you said, and even after you explained that they misunderstood, they simply refused to believe you?
That happened to me a few months ago, on a discussion forum I used to post on. A very bitter person chose to think the worst of me. Do you know that feeling? It can be hurtful when someone distrusts you. It’s almost like a slap in the face.
If it is disrespectful to unjustly distrust a human being, who is fallible…then how much more disrespectful is it when we do that to God, who is is infallible? Perfect. Holy. Sinless.
So distrusting God is an entirely different level of insult than distrusting another human.
I would say it’s an even bigger slap in the face when God has already demonstrated His love and trustworthiness.
I’m reminded of the Israelites, as they were led out of Egypt. Think about all the amazing, dramatic miracles that they witnessed. The parting of the Red Sea, the plagues on Egypt, the supernatural food in the desert…all sorts of things that demonstrated God’s power and faithfulness.
Yet many of the Israelites still lacked faith and trust. They worried, doubted, complained and quickly forgot about all the amazing things God did for them.
According to the scriptures, God was not pleased by their distrust.
If we distrust God, after He has demonstrated His goodness and faithfulness to us, then we too grieve God, the one being who is actually worthy of our trust, at all times.
It should be stated that from a New Covenant/Grace perspective, God isn’t grieved because He is disappointed in us, or because He’s angry at us for breaking a rule. He grieves because when we distrust Him (or sin in other ways) it hurts us. And other people. He loves us and wants the best for us. So when we do something as foolish as distrust Him, it grieves Him in a similar way that a good parent is grieved when their child does something that is harmful or unwise.
2. Distrusting God prevents us from moving forward.
The “stiff-necked” unbelief of the Israelites had grave consequences. Many of them lost their lives, and most of them never saw the Promised Land. Instead, they wandered around in the desert for 40 years and it was the next generation that made it into Canaan. Imagine how different things would have been for the doubting Israelites, had they simply trusted God.
When we lack trust, we can end up wandering in circles like those Israelites, instead of moving forward, and getting to the place God wants us to be.
It can hinder our growth, it can hinder us from exciting opportunities to be used by God, and it can keep us stuck in an unfruitful season, for far too long.
3. Distrust robs us of joy and blessings
Distrust robs us of joy, peace, blessings and future rewards that God wants to give us.
Throughout the bible, we can read that trusting God and being secure in Him brings joy!
For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, it comes from God. So, it makes sense that when we grieve the Holy Spirit through our distrust or lack of faith, we’re not going to have joy at the same time.
Faith, on the other hand, is what pleases God. He delights in those who put their hope in His unfailing love! (Psalm 147:11)
The stiff-necked generation of Israelites missed out on the blessings and abundance that awaited them, because of their unbelief and self-centeredness.
The biggest blessing of all is God Himself, and being in a right relationship with Him.
All who are saved – born from above – are completely forgiven and we don’t have to worry about God ever leaving us or forsaking us. However, even though we are forgiven when we lack faith, there are still consequences. We miss out on certain things that God wants for us in this life, and future rewards in heaven.
4. Distrust dishonors God before others and damages our witness
Faithlessness not only grieves God and hurts us, but it damages our witness to the world.
Strong faith, through any circumstances, glorifies God and moves hearts.
Strong faith touches not only the hearts of those who don’t know God, but fellow believers as well. I know from experience that being around Christians who are strong in faith, and filled with passion and joy is so edifying.
Distrusting God, on the other hand, dishonors God, even if that wasn’t our intention. And that can lead people astray. I don’t think I need to elaborate on the seriousness of that.
5. The sin of distrusting God is at the root of numerous other sins
The distrust of the aforementioned Israelites led to a slew of other sins. Idolatry, complaining, ungratefulness, false accusations and lust, to name a few.
When we distrust God, we are in danger of falling into numerous other sins, because we’re not being led by the Spirit, but our flesh or emotions.
As was stated earlier, so many of the problems in this world are rooted in unbelief or distrust in God, and it has been that way since the very beginning.
Adam and Eve sinned because they allowed themselves to doubt God’s goodness. They fell for the deception of the enemy, who insinuated that God lied to them, and had evil motives.
Have things changed that much among human beings? Not really. Just as it was back then, to this day people fall for the lies of the enemy, allowing themselves to distrust God.
Faith is about trusting God’s character – His goodness, faithfulness, power and love… through all circumstances. It’s easy to trust God when the sun is shining and all is right in the world.
The true test of our faith comes during the darkest days and most difficult trials.
Again, we glorify God when we trust Him, no matter what!
I don’t want this to come across as condemning. When I think about all the times in the past 14 years that I was lacking in the trust and faith department, I can see how – like the Israelites – that prevented me from moving forward and being victorious.
How patient God has been with me! How merciful, loving and awesome God is, to put up with me… a person who has been slow to learn important spiritual truths. But I have learned some things, and I’m still learning.
So I want to thank God for that and say a prayer right now, that maybe some of you can relate to.
God, I’m sorry for all those times that I didn’t believe You or trust You. When someone does that to me, it doesn’t feel so good. It can be hurtful. So how must that feel to you, someone who is actually worthy of trust, no matter what.
Thank you for your patience with me, and thank you for teaching me the importance of complete trust! I pray that if there is anyone out there struggling with trusting You, that you would give them a fresh revelation on how essential it is to trust you, through ALL circumstances. Not just when the sun is shining, but during the worst storms, as well.
I pray that you will continue to teach us to step out in faith, so we can honor you through our faith, trust and obedience.