The Terror Of Trust

Sunday, May 15, 2022
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Listen while you read: "Brightest And Best"1 (Lyrics)

"Thank You for … the terror of trust … ." I have lost the source of this written prayer, but not its impact. There's wisdom in this paradox: Trustful faith is forged through those terrifying experiences when we feel utterly vulnerable — until our Saviour comes through for us. That's when we realize that He's not been sleeping — just as His disciples discovered one terrifying night at sea.

Raging waves seemed about to engulf them; yet Jesus was right there in the boat! Sleep could not deter Jesus from being God over the wind and the waves — indeed, God of the universe, God of the ancient covenant promise, God of His own destiny: to die for our sin and give us life. Neither Jesus nor the disciples would perish before God's appointed time. For the same reason, we, too, can trust God through any of life's terrors.

But note! Look what ultimately struck terror in the disciples:

Mark 4:41 – They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" (NIV)

What exactly terrified the disciples after the sea was calmed? Why such "fear and amazement", as Luke describes it? (Luke 8:25 NIV) It was the shocking awareness that God was in their midst. Jesus, their humble teacher, was God! And being God, He could rule the elements of creation for both judgment and mercy. This Jesus had the power to destroy or to save. He chose to spare their lives. The disciples knew that they didn't deserve such mercy. They were sinners, vulnerable before Almighty God; they should have perished. In that terrifying realization, the disciples discovered the insurmountable power of His loving kindness — and His trustworthiness. Is that not "the terror of trust" — how God's amazing gift of grace works in us?

"'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear; and grace my fears relieved." – from John Newton's hymn, Amazing Grace

Let's admit it: our faith never becomes robust by viewing God as safe and harmless. That's not how Scripture portrays God. No! The biblical God deploys myriads of cosmic forces as judgments against sin, not just personal sin, but the sin of entire nations. Psalmists felt agonizingly vulnerable to God's terrors, yet found Him to be trustworthy. We have difficulty grasping this paradoxical truth about God; yet, the psalmists could utter it in nearly one breath:

Psalm 88:16 – [God's] wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. (NIV)
Psalm 91:5 – [I] will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day. (NIV)

This two-sided truth surely still applies. For we, too, experience the effects of divine judgment on human sin — whether through the natural elements, evil principalities, and human malice — or our own sinfulness. Yet in the midst of the turmoil, we experience restful peace — by trusting in God.

That points to perhaps the most dreaded kind of terror: the terror of letting go, of not being in control, of not knowing. As empty-handed sinners, we utterly abandon ourselves into God's outstretched arms, and find Him there to catch us. That's the terror of trust!

Prayer: Lord, help us to recognize and value Your ways of making us experience the terror of trust. Amen.

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About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Yes! Awesome! exactly right. Thank you.


    Thanks for the encouraging thoughts, Diane.


    Good exposition, Diane. Thanks for sharing it.


    Thank you for posting this, Diane. It is something we all need to hear and believe.


    Thanks, Diane. Terror of trust is a great description of that inner feeling in a hard situation.


    Hi Diane. Great devotional and reminder that God is worthy of our trust in the midst of all our troubles. God Bless.


    Good morning, Diane,
    Thank you for this lesson on trusting God. It is so true, there is the fear but then the reassurance God is always there.
    Have a blessed Sunday


    Dear Diane,
    Thank you for your Devotional on The Terror of Trust. It gave me new insights into the reactions of the disciples after Jesus calmed the seas and plenty to meditate on.
    Blessing on you and your writing.


    Hello Diane,
    Once again, a very meaningful devotion today, hitting on issues relevant to me today (and always). I appreciate the depth of thinking evident in your writing, going beyond the pat answers and object lessons that so often appear in Christian devotionals. Considering “both/and” rather than seeing things dualistically is a challenge for me, being an “either/or” thinker by nature. Thank you.
    Blessings on your day!


    Good morning, Diane,
    Your mind thinks in very deep ways. I cannot just read your devotionals. I have to work my mind to grasp your concept. You wake up my brain to gain a different perspective.
    I have never liked the expression “fear the Lord”. I turn the word “fear” into “respect” when it appears in this context. I want to see God as a loving God.
    I automatically want to change “terror” to “power”. For me, the same wonder and awe will form in my thoughts, but it will be a positive trust.
    I know God provides difficulties for me to mature in my faith, but I believe those to be done from love.
    I will have to ponder a little more. Thank you for sharing your perspective to help me grow in understanding. May you continue to make me think. Blessings.


    Thank you, thank you.


    Thank you, Diane, for this devotion. It sounds so easy to trust in our Lord, and it really is! However, our human instinct to be in control, to “do it myself” often gets in the way. Your devotion reminds me of words from the hymn. ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus…oh, for grace to trust him more”.
    I always get a warm fuzzy when reading devotions from Paisley. Thank you!


    I appreciate your spiritual insight into the terror of trust. Thank you for the motivation to think about this mysterious part of our faith.

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