A talk by Pete Codella for high council speaking Sunday on October 19, 2014 (learn more here). Many ideas and segments of this talk come from the resources noted below.
How do we develop, nurture and strengthen our trust in the Lord, in His timing and in His purposes? What does it mean to trust in the Lord?
Perhaps a discussion of how we learn trust provides the best place to start.
Trust comes through life’s experiences. It comes from people or things around us and from our interactions with them. We learn to rely on others. We feel their strength. We become fairly certain we’ll receive or benefit from a specific outcome as a result of our interaction. We gain confidence.
A baby learns she can receive food and comfort from a mother. She develops trust in her mom, that she’ll nourish and care for her. A young boy learns of his father’s love and support as they participate together in Cub Scouts or sports. A wife grows to love and trust her husband as he works diligently over time to ensure she has the necessities and comforts of life.
In our modern day, we have come to trust in a number of life’s little comforts. We expect, when we flip a light switch, the room will be illuminated. When we turn the key or push the ignition button for a car, we plan on the engine starting. With smartphones, we’ve come to expect text messages, emails and phone calls pretty much wherever we are.
These are just a few examples of how we develop trust in others and in the things around us. Of course the things around us can disappoint. Who hasn’t had cell phone coverage when they really needed it?
But when it comes to our Father in Heaven, there’s one side of that equation we never have to worry about. Our Father is perfect. He’ll never let us down.
Consider what the Savior taught in the New Testament:
“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:11-13)
In other words, as imperfect, even sinful mortals, we understand what it means to give good gifts to our children. We know what we should do to have our children develop trust, faith and love in us.
And we can rest assured that our Heavenly Father also knows how to deliver on His promises. We activate his promises in our lives through faithful living.
“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D&C 82:10).
In preparation for today, as I’ve considered increasing our trust in the Lord—what it means to build and strengthen our confidence in the Lord—I think there are a few main ingredients, including:
- Recognizing the influence of the Holy Ghost
- Becoming like a child
- Gaining knowledge and understanding revelation
- Learning when you need to move forward, even if the end is unclear
I still remember when I was a child, we were in a cultural hall, and with the faith of a child, I grabbed my father’s legs so he’d lift me up onto the stage where he was sitting. However, I chose the wrong legs. It wasn’t my father and I was so embarrassed. But I had (and still have) perfect faith that if I grabbed my dad’s legs and asked for his hand, or asked him for help, he would help.
I think trust in the Lord requires experience in spiritual things. Like any professional can tell you, it requires many hundreds and even thousands of hours (some say at least 10,000 hours) of study and application to become proficient.
We develop faith and trust as our understanding grows. The more spiritual experiences we have, the more we understand and the more we strive for similar experiences.
My Melchizedek Priesthood interview was a spiritual experience. It helped me draw closer to the Lord and learn to trust Him.
Let’s talk about knowledge of the character of Jesus Christ as in ingredient for trusting in the Lord. After all, how could you trust someone you don’t know?
The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God.” In other words, one of the foundation stones of the restored gospel is a knowledge of what kind of being God actually is. But not only do we need to understand what kind of being God is, we must come to know God.
In the same sermon, the Prophet expounded, “If any man does not know God, . . . he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle.” In His great Intercessory Prayer, the Savior confirmed that life eternal was to “know . . . the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [the Father] hast sent” (John 17:3) (Andrew Skinner).
We come to know the character of God and Jesus Christ by studying the scriptures and following the counsel of modern day prophets. With this knowledge, we can truly trust in the Lord.
Also necessary for trust in the Lord is, as the scriptures say: “…faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 4:5). That revelation given through Joseph Smith goes on to say: “Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (D&C 4:6-7).
Basically, as we strive to become more like the Savior, our faith and trust in Him will increase.
I love this thought from Proverbs:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Think, for a moment, how trusting in the Lord implies we’ll be optimistic, that we’ll rely on His wisdom more than our own, and that we’ll give Him credit for all we receive and benefit from.
The young Nephi in the Book of Mormon exemplifies a desire to trust in the Lord, and to obey His commandments, however hard they appear. Nephi faced danger and possible death when he said these words of trust that we can and must feel in our own hearts (this was my mission scripture):
“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7).
That trust comes from knowing God. More than any other people on earth, we have, through the events of the Restoration, felt the peace that the Lord offered His people with the words “Be still, and know that I am God.” We should be forever grateful for what God has revealed about Himself in the latter days that we might trust Him.
Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev’ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
(Be Still, My Soul, Hymn 56)
The scriptures are full of examples of trusting God, as well as examples of even faithful people who at one point or another, second-guessed God.
Jonah, for instance, not only rejected the message from the Lord to go to Nineveh but went the other direction. Naaman could not trust the instruction of the Lord’s prophet to bathe in a river to allow the Lord to heal his leprosy, feeling the simplicity of the task was beneath his dignity.
We show our trust in God when we listen with the intent to learn and repent and then go and do whatever He asks. If we trust God enough to listen for His message in every sermon, song, and prayer, we’ll find it. And if we then go and do what He would have us do, our power to trust Him will grow.
The Savior said: “And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you” (3 Nephi 18:20).
He also said, “If ye will have faith in me, ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me” (Moroni 7:33).
Sometimes, trusting in the Lord means understanding His will may not be our will. This is from Elder Simmons of the Seventy, a talk from General Conference 10 years ago:
“Our scriptures and our history are replete with accounts of God’s great men and women who believed that He would deliver them, but if not, they demonstrated that they would trust and be true.
“He has the power, but it’s our test.
“What does the Lord expect of us with respect to our challenges? He expects us to do all we can do. He does the rest. Nephi said, “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
“We must have the same faith as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego.
“Our God will deliver us from ridicule and persecution, but if not. … Our God will deliver us from sickness and disease, but if not … . He will deliver us from loneliness, depression, or fear, but if not. … Our God will deliver us from threats, accusations, and insecurity, but if not. … He will deliver us from death or impairment of loved ones, but if not, … we will trust in the Lord.
“Our God will see that we receive justice and fairness, but if not. … He will make sure that we are loved and recognized, but if not. … We will receive a perfect companion and righteous and obedient children, but if not, … we will have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that if we do all we can do, we will, in His time and in His way, be delivered and receive all that He has.”
The scriptures teach us about fear, about being afraid to “give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15):
“Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men;
“For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say” (D&C 100:5-6).
Elder Oaks taught:
“Faith must include trust. When we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must have trust in him. We must trust him enough that we are content to accept his will, knowing that he knows what is best for us.
“The kind of faith that includes trust in the Lord stands in contrast to many imitations. Some people trust no one but themselves. Some put their highest trust in a friend or another family member, perhaps because they feel that person is more righteous or more wise than they. But that is not the Lord’s way. He told us to put our faith and our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“The Savior gave us the model for that kind of faith and trust. Remember how he prayed to the Father in the agony of Gethsemane? This was the culminating event of his life, the climactic fulfillment of his mission as our Savior. The gospel of Luke, as corrected in the inspired translation of the Prophet Joseph Smith, describes how he knelt down and prayed: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done” (JST, Luke 22:42).
“Here we see the Savior’s absolute faith and trust in the Father. “Nevertheless,” he said, “not my will, but thine be done.” The Father’s answer was to deny the plea of his Only Begotten Son. The Atonement had to be worked out by that lamb without blemish. But though the Son’s request was denied, his prayer was answered. The scripture records: “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him” (JST, Luke 22:43).
“Faith, no matter how strong it is, cannot produce a result contrary to the will of him whose power it is. The exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is always subject to the order of heaven, to the goodness and will and wisdom and timing of the Lord. That is why we cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord’s will and in the Lord’s timing. When we have that kind of faith and trust in the Lord, we have true security in our lives. President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Security is not born of inexhaustible wealth but of unquenchable faith.”
“We need the strength that comes from faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ if we are to fulfill our duty “to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9). In times of trial we need the comfort offered in the holy scriptures, which assure us that when we have the shield of faith we will “be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (D&C 27:17).
“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prepares you for whatever life brings. This kind of faith prepares you to deal with life’s opportunities—to take advantage of those that are received and to persist through the disappointments of those that are lost.
“Most importantly, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ opens the door of salvation and exaltation: “For no [one] can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name” (Moroni 7:38).
We learn to trust in the Lord through revelation. The scriptures teach that this is the spirit of revelation: “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart” (D&C 8:2).
We also know that, in the process of revelation, fear almost always plays a destructive, sometimes paralyzing role. An example is Oliver Cowdery. The Lord said, “You did not continue as you commenced. It is not expedient that you should translate now. Behold, it was expedient when you commenced; but you feared, and the time is past, and it is not expedient now” (D&C 9:5, 10-11).
This is from Elder Scott, teaching us to trust in the Lord for forgiveness:
‘If we have seriously sinned, we should repent—now. It is not good to violate the commandments of the Lord. It is worse to do nothing about it. Sin is like cancer in the body. It will never heal itself. It will become progressively worse unless cured through the medicine of repentance. You can be made completely whole, new, purified, and clean every whit, through the miracle of repentance.
“Trust in the Lord. He knows what He is doing. He already knows of your problems. And He is waiting for you to ask for help….
“The Savior gave his life that you and I can correct mistakes, even the most serious ones. His plan is perfect. It always works for each one who follows the rules.”
In his 1999 talk at BYU, Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence, Elder Holland talks about moving forward in faith once an answer has been received.
“After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel his love and hear the word of the Lord, “go forward.” Don’t fear, don’t vacillate, don’t quibble, don’t whine.
This reminds me of one of my favorite Elder Holland quotes: “No misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse.”
“Nobody has ever crossed the Red Sea [the way Moses and the children of Israel did], but so what? There’s always a first time.
“With the spirit of revelation, dismiss your fears and wade in with both feet. In the words of Joseph Smith, “Brethren [and sisters], shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!” (D&C 128:22).
“…along with the illuminating revelation that points us toward a righteous purpose or duty, God will also provide the means and power to achieve that purpose. Trust in that eternal truth. If God has told you something is right, if something is indeed true for you, he will provide the way for you to accomplish it.”
“I acknowledge the reality of opposition and adversity, but I bear witness of the God of Glory, of the redeeming Son of God, of light and hope and a bright future. I promise you that God lives and loves you, each one of you, and that he has set bounds and limits to the opposing powers of darkness. I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the victor over death and hell and the fallen one who schemes there. The gospel of Jesus Christ is true, and it has been restored.
“Fear ye not.” And when the second and the third and the fourth blows come, “fear ye not… The Lord shall fight for you.” “Cast not away therefore your confidence.”
“God’s grace is sufficient.”
We show our trust in the Lord when we listen with the intent to learn and repent, and then go and do whatever the Lord asks.
Fear Not, I am With Thee
Trust in God, Then Go and Do, President Eyring, October 2010
The Nature and Character of God, BYU Devotional by Andrew Skinner, April 2006
But If Not…, Elder Dennis Simmons, April 2004
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Elder Oaks, April 1994
Trust in the Lord, Elder Scott, April 1989
Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence, Elder Holland, March 1999