Trust and Believe

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track                                                                                           Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message)

There is an old illustration about trusting and believing that I think is apropos in both the Christian life as well as in counseling. The illustration goes something like this…

Picture a chair in the corner of the room as my friend and I enter. I point to the chair and I ask my friend if they believe that the chair is sturdy. It is an old wooden chair that has seen better days, but it still seems somewhat serviceable. Then I ask…

Me: “Do you believe that old chair could hold you if you sat on it?”

Friend: “Sure, I think it will”.

Me: “So, you believe that chair can hold your weight, right?”

Friend: “Sure, I believe it will”.

Me: “OK, go ahead and sit in it”

Friend: “Well, I’m not sure I want to do that”

That is the difference between believing and trusting. Just believing in something involves no real commitment to it. However, trust means that we will act on the belief with assurance of the outcome.

Our Christian faith asks us to trust fully in God, not just believe certain doctrines of the faith.

In counseling too, belief is a passive, almost “observer” position. Trust is willingness to act on what we believe in order to effect change. Change will come from consistent behaviors toward a goal. Mere belief that such change can happen because we hope it can, is usually not enough to effect real changes- in mood or situation.

A client believing that the homework I give to them will work is not effective until or unless it is acted upon. If medication is prescribed, mere belief in it does not work until one actually takes the medication.

Prayer: Lord, you have asked us to trust in you in all things. Help us to lean on you in trust, Amen.

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