Trust and the Unpredictable Life

by Jun 2, 2016Courage, Cultivate8 comments

“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart
before him; God is a refuge for us.”
Psalm 62:8 NIV

Trusting God in the unpredictable difficulties of life—it’s not an easy shift for most. That kind of trust is developed deep within the soul, one embraced experience at a time. But once the journey is begun, what an impact the learning and the relationship have on our leadership influence.

I’m one of those who has preferred life settled into some level of certainty. Small waves of change were comfortable, but please, no big swells that I didn’t see coming. And of course I defined those I’d rather avoid. In reality some of the big ones hit. I see now that a predictable life is only a wished-for illusion. But along the way I also discovered the gift in the not knowing. Each wave—big or small, anticipated or unforeseen—includes invitations into rich, trust-building experiences with God.

Trust. It’s become a big word for me.

From my earliest years of following Christ, I desired to grow in trusting Him. Looking back I see the many times I attempted to take control and create a safe existence. Like a child playing in the sand, I scooped and patted my walls of perceived wellbeing, happily oblivious to the changing tides or sneaker waves that easily crumble carefully built castles.

God has taken these hands of mine that hold tightly to the illusion of safety and predictability, and is unclenching them one experience and one finger at a time. With opening hands, I’m beginning to lean into a relaxed ease and trust in His love, grace and mercies. When the waves come, I’m letting go, even, at times, laughing with joy as I watch my own walls and castles collapse. I anticipate with growing confidence that He is building something better and freer.

Where are you today with trusting God with your life or leadership opportunities? With your openness to the adventures He has for you?
If you could look into your own clenched hand, what would you find there that prevents fuller trust and freedom?

God is so loving and gracious in His ways with each of us and how we uniquely hold onto our own forms of creating safety and peace.

I remember driving in my car and listening to someone on the radio talk about God’s will. He said, “Ask God for His will. Trust Him. He has good in mind for you.” I was afraid to ask for His will. I wasn’t sure I believed He had good in mind for me. Maybe he did for others, but tugging at my soul was fear and the question, “What if asking for His will brings about something I can’t possibly handle?” I didn’t trust his love for me.

That was one of those moments when God pried loose one of my clenched fingers. Pry is the appropriate word here. Distrust, deeply ingrained from other life events and relationships, spilled over into my view of God’s ways and character. It is so easy to make God into our images, rather than allow Him to be fully who He is and more than we can imagine.

How is God opening up your trust in Him through the unpredictable difficulties of your life?
What is developing in you that He might use to encourage someone else who is experiencing a challenging situation?

A popular song includes a prayer for the Spirit to lead us where our trust is without borders. Our trust is made stronger one experience at a time, one loosened finger at a time. God does this in many beautiful ways, including by using us to nudge others toward that trust without borders.

Recently I listened to a young woman who was practically shaking with anxiety and fear. She didn’t trust anyone—God, others, even herself. She had been born to an addicted mother and had become addicted herself to drugs and self-harm. No one felt safe to her, but for a few minutes she let down her guard to share her story.

Working alongside my husband at a residential ministry for at-risk youth, I’ve watched the shifts that can take place, the hope that can begin to crack open the possibilities for trust. When we listen, really listen, to someone’s story non-judgmentally and with compassion, that person might begin to believe God cares.

Trust is an adventure God call us into, a growing confidence in Him that transforms us, transforms our relationships, and transforms our leadership and cultural impact. While the unpredictable waves are a reality, we can know God is with us and for us and will use us.

Are we ready to let the waves come, release our control and embrace all He has for us? Are we ready for Him to infuse into our lives a bold trust that will make a difference through our influence and impact in someone’s life? In our homes, in our ministries, in our communities?

Let’s ask Him. Let’s trust Him.

For Further Conversation: 
Please share your journeys, what you’ve discovered, Scriptures that have become powerful for you in your experiences of the unpredictable. How has God met you, encouraged you, opened wide your clenched hold on life? How are you using your story and experiences of deeper trust to lead and impact others in your home, community, ministry or organization?


  1. Susan Sage

    Every time I think I have the place of leadership figured out where God wants me, I experience a loop-d-lou and something different ends up opening up. I have been involved in mentoring, or what we used to call discipleship, for many years. I’ve watched it evolve as needs have changed and culture has impacted. It’s always exciting, especially once I learned to take my hands off and really let God do the leading. Now it’s an adventure I’m thrilled to be a part of instead of a plan I thought I had.

    • Jan Kern

      Wonderful perspective, Susan. I’m excited to hear where God takes you and how He will use what He has already done in and through you as a mentor!

  2. Vicki Cato

    I believe God is using me through leadership in a Small Group. This is a huge step for me but one I anticipate with great hope. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about trust.

    • Jan Kern

      Wonderful, Vicki, that you’re taking this step in leading a small group. May God bless you and grow your leadership. Much to anticipate! And I look forward to hearing more about His work through you along the way!

  3. Cindy Hunt

    Well, I haven’t reached the state of being able to help others YET. But God is pouring out His love on me through you, Jan, and others that are taking the time to minister to those of us who are hurting. I know He is doing a work in me that is for my good and His glory. I look forward to the time when I am able to offer that same hope and encouragement. A scripture passage that has recently been helping me is Isaiah 61: 1-3. God is so good!

    • Jan Kern

      Thank you for sharing here, Cindy. Isaiah 61 is a powerful chapter and those verses especially. With that deep work God is doing in you, He might already be making you His oak of righteousness, His planting for the display of His splendor. Offer the hope you have been given and you might find that trunk and those branches of yours are more developed than you realize. Praying for you and cheering you on!

  4. Jane Daly

    As I look back over my previous 5 decades of life, I see the countless times God has met me in places I never wanted to go. Even now, He brings people to me who have also suffered the loss of a child. Sometimes I don’t want to relive the pain by entering into others’ suffering. But it is what we are called to do. We received comfort, we offer comfort. 2 Cor. 1:3-5

    • Jan Kern

      Beautiful how God is using you, Jane. Your entering into others’ suffering is also a trust journey, believing God will once again hold you close as that wound is reopened. As you pour out to others, I pray you sense God’s continued healing and deep comfort. Love that verse–2 Corinthians 1:3-5!

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