I think we can count the people we pretty much trust on two hands and the people we trust completely on one. And that’s because trust isn’t something that’s common. It’s not something we give or receive freely because trusting someone opens us up to possibilities that we can’t control. Trust makes us vulnerable, and if the promise is broken or the relationship betrayed, we risk getting really hurt.
All of us have experienced that kind of wounding to some degree, whether we were a child or an adult or somewhere in between. And what’s so deeply tragic about that fact is that those wounds influence our perception of ourselves and of other people and, most importantly for us today, our perception of God.
At times we may catch ourselves wondering if God is like the friend who left because we couldn’t solve the argument. Or if he’s a wild-card, who is one day kind and the next day malicious, like the boss who made our first job hell. And without us realizing it, we begin to hold back from God because we’re so accustomed to doing so with everyone else.
What would it look like to really trust God? Like, really really.
In our psalm appointed for this morning, we hear from a man who knows in his very bones that he is out of options. He and the people he’s praying for are without resources or recourse — they are poor and oppressed, and no one will help them. The situation is dire and would be hopeless; but the psalmist cries out to the God of his forefathers, saying, “Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.”
He and his people are exhausted, worn down by their poverty, mocked and beaten and left for dead by the leaders who were supposed to protect them. There is no help available to them, nothing and no-one on earth who will listen but God, and so they appeal to him, looking away from the pain of the present and toward the sky: “To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until he has mercy upon us.”
“We will wait for you,” the psalmist says. “We will wait just like a servant waits to hear his master’s command. We know that nothing on this earth will help us, so we put our trust, all our trust, in you.”
That level of trust doesn’t make sense to us. It’s almost baffling. We’re so used to picking ourselves up and taking care of our own problems. Waiting on the action of someone else just doesn’t seem like a good idea. How do we know that the LORD will act? How do we know God actually cares?
The psalmist knows the answer to both questions is yes. They trust in the LORD, which is not an empty name or meaningless word. When the psalmist prays, “O LORD, have mercy upon us” and “so our eyes look to the LORD our God,” they are remembering the Name that delivered them out of bondage and into freedom, out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. When Israel is pinned between Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea, they panic and murmur, but the LORD reassures them that he will fight for them — they need only be still.
This is just one of the stories the psalmist holds in his heart as he prays. As he waits. We don’t know what answer he received. We don't know how long he waited. But we do know that the LORD loves the broken-hearted and the down-trodden. That he is near to the sorrowful and the distressed. As Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
And it is Jesus who ultimately tells us what God is like. It is Jesus who ultimately tells us that God cares and cares so deeply that he would send his Son to earth to die for our sake. Jesus knows what it is to suffer, knows what it is to be betrayed, and when he invites the weary and the burdened to come to him, he does so as one who understands, as one who loves us more deeply than we can ever know.
What would it look like to really trust God? It looks like taking Christ’s hand and walking with him through the ups and downs of our lives. There may be days when we falter, days when we stumble, but Jesus promised never to leave. He is our hope, our sure defense, our savior, our friend. As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, and the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, to Christ Jesus our Lord, until he show us his mercy. AMEN.