Last month I wrote about living in a society that is devoid of trust. Trust has significantly eroded in America. Think about what has happened to labels. I used to be able to read labels such as Democrat/Republican, Conservative/Liberal, Lutheran/Presbyterian/Methodist/Mennonite and actually have an idea what they meant. Recently I read how the Food and Drug Administration in the USA requires all ingredients to be listed on the labels. However, if something is sprayed upon the bag that holds the “food” then this does not need to be listed. What!?! That is correct.
Trying to avoid BHA, BHT, and other harmful chemicals? They may be present even if the label doesn’t say so. Who is labeling the packaged food you eat? Who sponsored the advertisement you just read or heard? Who made the clothing you wear? Who endorsed the curriculum children are being taught in local schools? What did that news station just say? Who owns them again?
I think we can agree that the American Trust environment has taken a negative turn. However, buckle your seat belts ladies and gentlemen- it could be much worse! I am writing you from a hotel in Lagos, Nigeria. It is almost four in the afternoon and one of my hosts has been in line since early this morning in the attempt to buy gasoline so he could drive me around the city after several days of intense teaching and training. Nigeria, one of the globe’s greatest oil producers, bows at the mercy of corrupt politicians. One was recently caught stealing four billion dollars! It now takes two hours to drive less than forty miles. Bus sized potholes wait to wreck your vehicle and line it up with those abandoned as roadside ornaments. I was instructed to ride in the center of our van so criminals would not be attracted to attack me or those in our van because of my white skin. Each night, my host pleaded that I lock my hotel room door and bolt it promising not to leave and not to open the door for anyone until they returned in the morning. The trust situation may not be good in the USA, but it can get much worse!
We may not know who or what to trust as we traverse the cultural landscape. There will ultimately always be some situation that is more bleak and dire than our own. So in the midst of this uncertainty, let’s begin by defining Trust. At some point I’ll provide Webster’s definition but limited WiFi and rolling blackouts here in Lagos have eliminated this modern convenience.
For now we will say that trust is a person’s ability to put absolute faith and belief in an object, person or statement. I trust a chair will hold me because I believe and have faith that it will do so. I trust my wife to support and love me because she has done this consistently for more than 23 years. This is Trust. Sure, people sit on chairs that break. People have spouses that leave. The action of the one receiving trust does not in the moment diminish the attitude of the one who is trusting. For instance, I trust fully in the chair up to and including the final moment that it decides to collapse.
This brings us to the inevitable question- How can I trust God? I have an answer for you. Many will find it surprising, even infuriating, but you’ll have to wait until next time. Fortunately, because of extended time in my Nigerian hotel room, that message is already written!