A choice between trust and fear is at the heart of almost every tension

A choice between trust and fear is at the heart of almost every tension.

aaaaaThe pioneer of development psychology Erik Erickson spoke of “basic trust.” This is the confidence that a baby begins to have in its mother. The baby is trusting that the mother is reliably concerned and attentive even when not visibly present. Erickson says that all human beings are finally confronted with the options of trust and fear.

Are we trusting God in these messy, difficult, challenging lives we live? Or do we fear? We all wrestle between trust and fear.

This choice between trust and fear is at the heart of almost every point of tension that we feel: relational complexities, work complexities, living arrangements, decisions about romantic relationships, marriage, parenting . . .

Here is a study in trust: the story of Abraham and Abimelech, Genesis Chapter 20. Abraham fears that Abimelech will kill him for his wife, Sarah. What is Abraham to do? Abraham pretends that Sarah is his sister. Then Abimelech ends up marrying Sarah. When Abraham’s pretence is found out, Abraham makes all sorts of excuses, like, “Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.” Abraham’s behaviour is pathetic. Ironically, Abimelech, not Abraham, trusts Abraham’s God!

For myself, I have been praying through a relational issue. The more I pray the more I realise that it’s my issue, and that I have to choose between trusting that God is working in this situation, or fear. Abraham gave way to fear. When we live, or speak, out of fear, instead of trust, things go wrong. But when we are trusting in God, with a childlike “basic trust,” then we live wisely, and we speak wisely—and we bring life.

We can rest in God. We don’t have to compromise. We don’t have to grasp. We don’t have to fight. We can wait for the Lord. As Julian of Norwich wrote, “All will be well and all will be well.” We have to wait for the Lord. This time, this era, is all about waiting. And that’s ok. Be faithful. Let’s dig deep in Christ together; let’s dig deep in life together. And wait for the Lord.


About Mark Glanville

Mark Glanville is a pastor-scholar who ministers in a missional urban community, Grandview Church, Vancouver. Mark is Professor of Old Testament and congregational studies at the Missional Training Center, Phoenix (missionaltraining.org), and he teaches at Regent College, Vancouver. Mark's research focusses upon the Pentateuch, biblical ethics, and mission. Mark has authored "Adopting the Stranger as Kindred" (SBL, 2018), "Reading Exodus: Society Reshaped by Kinship" (Lexham, forthcoming), numerous refereed articles (including in the Journal of Biblical Literature (2018), Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (2019), and Refuge Journal (2013)) and chapters on the Pentateuch, mission, and refugee related issues, as well as numerous popular articles. Mark is presently co-authoring a book, "Providing Refuge: A Missional and Political Theology." Mark is called upon to speak on in Canada, the U.S., and Australia. His previous career was as a jazz pianist in Sydney, Australia (Chick Corea and Wynton Kelly are his musical heroes).
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2 Responses to A choice between trust and fear is at the heart of almost every tension

  1. June Glanville says:

    Learnig says There are only two things in life. ‘Love and fear, love and fear.’ Illustrated with a drawing of a room full of boxes with little people peeping out of them. I. Look forward to showing it to you sometime, or it might be in the book of his cartoons I gave erin. I like your blog. Perhaps trust is the choice we make when we decide to stand in faith on the love we have experienced or believe in?

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Glenn Murray says:

    I think this is the basis of our faith and as we, yes I, vacillate between trust and fear. I can either trust in our God who is always with us, or accept the fearful path that is so easy to walk. Much that catches our attention drags us away to be fearful. News of wars and terror, disease, exploding volcanoes, air disasters, murders, vehicle accidents . . . . Not to mention those much closer to us. . Work, family, church, relationships. that disturb us. Yet in my experience this fearful reaction is not the way of God. Interestingly, God reminds me clearly in Psalm 1, verses 1-3 what I should be doing to stay on His path. Now to actually practice this enough times for me to take the loving path by default and to not go back to using the fearful one.

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