Why Not Trust in One’s Self?

chapter 1

“The one who trusts in himself, in his own richness or ideologies is destined for unhappiness. The one who trusts in the Lord, on the other hand, bears fruit even of time of drought.”  Pope Francis 

Pope Francis was referring to Jeremiah 17:7-8, which says.

 Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.  Jeremiah 17:7-8 (ESV)

 Pope Francis says that the person who trust in himself is destined to unhappiness, Jeremiah 17:9 tells us why this is so. 

 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)

Pope Francis-trust

This seems like it’s saying something very different from what I hear so often in popular culture.  The believe in yourself and trust your heart mantras of many greeting cards and Disney movies is contradictory to what God is saying in the bible. 

Yesterday, I shared my story about trusting God through a hard experience with my church, and I told you how, though it was painful, I came out on the other side with hope and a deepening trust in my relationship with God.  I shared the good fruit that came out of that experience.  There were times in that process though, that I would withdraw my trust from God, and put my trust in myself. 

In my story, I mentioned how I would read the news about my church, even though it felt like salt in the wound, yet I couldn’t stay away from those stories.   I felt like it was a serious problem for me, which went beyond just staying informed.  It felt like something that bordered on crazy, and it was making me unhappy.   There seemed to be unlimited blog posts and articles that I could read, and I spent hours doing so. I mentioned it to some of my friends, and asked for prayer.  I said that I didn’t know what my deal was, but I didn’t like it, and I wanted to change. 

My friend said, “I think I know what it is.  It’s a control issue.  You need to trust God.”

I knew she was right.  When I worry, I try to gain control of the situation by devouring information.  I think a lot of people do that. 

I love to watch the show, Parenthood.  On a recent episode, Adam Braverman was sitting outside a hospital room, where his Dad was seriously ill.  Adam, clearly at low point, was staring at his phone, reading everything he could about his Dad’s heart condition.  His wife came and sat with him, offering encouragement through her presence.  She gently asked him to put away his phone and she held his hand.  His countenance changed, and he exhaled deeply, more at peace than before.   The situation was still dire, but in that moment, it wasn’t more information that brought him peace, it was love.

In moments where we feel worry, sometimes we just need to exhale, put the phone away, and hold the hand of someone who loves us.  Our heavenly father loves us more than anything, and he is in control.  We can rest in that.

Maybe information hording isn’t the way you try to feel in control.  Maybe it’s something else.  But trusting in one's self is never a good idea.  What the scriptures say is true.  What Pope Francis said was true.  Trusting in one’s self leads to unhappiness, but the one who trusts in God does not fear, but bears fruit, even in times of drought. 

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