When Trust Breaks Down
Have you ever felt betrayed by God? Let down by him? Felt like he has forgotten you or is ignoring you?
I am sure I am not the only one who has thought that. In fact, I know I am not, as this blog was inspired by a comment a fellow believer said in a recent prayer meeting.
When trust is gone, or has taken a hit, relationships suffer. We know that in our marriages, our friendships and workplaces. Trust is fundamental to a strong relationship. But what do we do when our trust in God wavers? Can we still trust God?
It can happen for many reasons – unanswered prayer, disappointment, suffering (or seeing a loved one suffer) – but in my experience, the biggest thing to shake our trust in God is when we feel like he’s broken his promises to us, or let us down when we needed him most.
Does it make me a poor Christian for sometimes thinking this way? Or does it just make me honest?
Beware The Trap Of False Thinking
Firstly, we need to critically examine some of our beliefs , some of the “promises” or “blessings” that we think we are “owed”. I am not, nor ever have been, a believer in the prosperity gospel – this is a dangerous twist on the truth of God’s mercy and grace. God doesn’t bless us because of our obedience, our generosity, our actions. Yet, if I am honest, I have been suckered in by their lies more than once.
When I first came to Canada, so many people praised my obedience in following God’s call and prayed that God would grant me my heart’s desires. These sentences weren’t meant to be linked as “cause and effect” , but over time I started to connect them together. I had been faithful, and therefore God would grant me my heart’s desires.
It was a tough awakening when I realized what I had done. I had moved from obeying God to believing I deserved reward for this obedience. When God was “slow” at giving me my heart’s desire, it had absolutely nothing to do with God breaking his promise to me. It wasn’t a betrayal in any way. Instead, I had taken a prayer and “claimed” it as a promise or reward that was “due” to me. I needed to repent and take a deeper look at my theology!
Other times though, we can be convinced that we heard God say something very specific, but then it never worked out the way we had imagined. This was the case with my friend, and it was the case with me a few years ago. That kind of disappointment does feel like He has let us down, betrayed us even, and we wonder if we can truly trust God. My story started in January 2019.
The Promise Of A Rainbow
A rainbow wasn’t a new image for me – God had given a friend a picture of me covered with a rainbow the day we lost our final embryo. Rainbow babies is the term given to children conceived after a miscarriage or still birth, so this picture was incredibly encouraging (especially as she had no idea about this). So that January evening, I pleaded with God to show me a rainbow if I could still hope for children.
I didn’t tell my husband any of this inner dialogue between myself and God. It was also January in Ottawa, so the chance of rain and sunshine was zero! That next day we were driving to my in-laws, and just after we had passed Peterborough my husband said “look at that rainbow!” I couldn’t quite believe it, but followed his gaze, and saw how the sunshine was reflecting off the moisture in the air, giving the effect of a rainbow in the sky. Then we saw another one, and then another. I laughed and cried, while my husband wondered if I had completely lost the plot!
The End Of The Rainbow
I didn’t see a rainbow again for six months. Then, when I was travelling north of Quebec City I saw a perfect, complete rainbow. This was it. This had to be the month. This was my sign from God. I was so grateful, so excited.
Three weeks later I woke to the knowledge that these dreams were dashed. I wasn’t pregnant. I literally sobbed in the bathroom. It hit me harder than the failed IVFs. Something broke inside of me. I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t read my Bible.
It took me a while to figure out why, and then I realized: all my trust in God as a loving father was broken. I felt betrayed by God. It was as though he had played a cruel trick on me by getting my hopes up, just to crush them.
The Scar Of Betrayal
As a side note my husband was amazing through this. He just held me and prayed for me. He had words where I had none. And he reminded me how much God loved me and kept telling me that I could still trust God.
I do know that is true, and with time I healed and I could pray again. Yet the scars remained and some of my trust in God was broken. This time it wasn’t because I believed that I deserved children, but that I was so convinced that God had said we would have them. As I saw it, either this meant I couldn’t completely trust God’s words to me, or that I couldn’t trust my understanding of God’s words to me. I knew it was probably the latter, but that still hurt our trust relationship. Even today it makes it harder for me to listen for God’s whisper as I worry that I will misunderstand.
God, Can I Trust You?
That was three years ago, but I have been processing this a lot recently, trying to figure out what it all means. The other Friday we saw another beautiful rainbow in front of our house. We saw five more on the Saturday as well as we got caught in the rain on a bike ride! And then a final rainbow a couple of days later.
This time the rainbows came after I had been crying out from my heart “God can I trust you?” The prayer wasn’t so much “can I trust you for children?”, but “can I trust you? These rainbows felt like a definitive answer: Yes, you can!
Whatever happened with that rainbow in 2019, I can trust God’s covenant promise. All the promises in the Bible are true:
- He loves me with an undying love.
- I will see Him face to face.
- My sins have been forgiven.
- He loves me more than I can imagine.
I don’t need to question that.
Maybe we will still have children (it’ll take a miracle but it’s not impossible) or maybe that rainbow promise is that we will meet our 12 babies one day in heaven where we will get to enjoy them for eternity.
We Can Trust God
I hope you hear me – however you feel that God has let you down, He loves you and you can trust Him. I know it can feel like betrayal, but it’s not – we just don’t know the full story yet.
Ask him to speak these words of reassurance to you right now. Ask for your rainbow reminder of His great love.