Turning from Fear to Faith

SARAH IVILL|CONTRIBUTOR

Editor’s Note: The following is an adapted excerpt from Sarah Ivill’s new book, Broken Cisterns: Thirsting for the Creator Instead of the Created (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2020), 125-129

Have you ever said to someone “Just trust me?” We often say these words because we love the person and believe we have greater wisdom than they do in a particular situation. Likewise, our heavenly Father loves us so much that He wants us to trust Him.

God Is Trustworthy

God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness is rooted in His covenant. He has initiated a relationship with His people. This relationship does not depend upon our faithfulness but His, and it is secured by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. We see God’s trustworthiness as the history of salvation unfolds from Genesis through Revelation. In the entirety of the covenantal structure of Scripture, we learn that God is faithful to fulfill His promises. As Paul says, “For all the promises of God in [Christ] are Yes, and in Him Amen” (2 Cor. 1:20). Because God has been faithful to us and saved us, we can trust Him by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mary’s Trust in the Face of Fear

At the appointed time, God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin named Mary. The angel told her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28). Mary was very troubled by the angel’s saying. However, the angel instructed her not to fear because she had found favor with God. She would have a son, and this son was to be named Jesus. He would be great and called the Son of the Highest. He would reign forever in an eternal kingdom. Mary questioned how this could be. The angel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that by God’s power she would conceive. The child she would carry would be called the Son of God. Mary replied to the angel, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (1:38).

Mary’s story displays what it means to trust the Lord. First, when Mary had every reason to fear, she responded in faith. Think about the last time you were gripped with fear. Maybe the career path you had chosen wasn’t going as you had expected, and you feared the outcome. Perhaps you, or a loved one, received a diagnosis that was difficult to hear and that drastically changed your lifestyle. Maybe you were headed on vacation and feared for your family’s safety, especially your young children’s. Perhaps you were afraid about how the difficulties in your marriage were going to turn out. Or maybe you feared your teenager being rejected by his or her peers. Perhaps you feared your parents’ aging process and the level of care they required. Or maybe you feared a hurricane that was projected to devastate your city. Whatever triggers it, and whenever it comes, fear is no fun. It paralyzes us by stealing our faith so that we falter in trusting God’s faithfulness. The cure is a return to recognizing who God is. He is almighty, beloved, eternal, exalted, faithful, good, holy, immortal, mighty, omnipotent, undefiled, and victorious.

Second, Mary’s trust was grounded in the truth of Scripture. Her song of praise in Luke 1:46–55 echoes Hannah’s in 1 Samuel 2. She recognized that God is magnificent, merciful, gracious, mighty, great, holy, and strong in power. She worshiped Him as the Savior, Helper, and Covenant Keeper. She recognized that God has been faithful to His people throughout the ages. We don’t trust a God we don’t know. He has revealed Himself through His Word and His works, giving us every reason to trust Him.

Trust for the believer is turning from the temptation to drink from broken cisterns to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). Trust recognizes that our heavenly Father has the best plan for our lives. Trust understands that this plan isn’t going to go according to our plan. Trust is satisfied when our heavenly Father says no, or wait, to something we wanted. And trust takes Him at His word, believing His promises.

The prayer of trust is the prayer of 2 Chronicles 20:12: “For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” I prayed this prayer one night in my study when I didn’t know what to do in a relational difficulty. As tears stung my eyes, trust took root in my heart. I felt as though a great multitude of problems surrounded me that were too deep for me to solve. But I took great comfort in knowing I could trust the Lord, so I looked to Him. This kind of trust doesn’t mean that the letter denying you entrance into your top choice of graduate schools, or another dispute with your husband, or the road of infertility, or a life of chronic pain, or raising children, or caring for aging parents, will be easy. And you may still have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. But in the midst of the hardships, God is with us and He is worthy of our trust.

The next time you say “Just trust me” to someone you love, remember that your heavenly Father loves you and wants you to trust Him.

About the Author:

Sarah Ivill

Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a Reformed author, wife, mom, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina and is a member of Christ Covenant Church. She is the author of Hebrews: His Hope, An Anchor for Our SoulsRevelation: Let the One Who Is Thirsty Come; Judges & Ruth: There Is A Redeemer1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude: Steadfast in the Faith; and The Covenantal Life: Appreciating the Beauty of Theology and Community . You can learn more about Sarah at www.sarahivill.com.

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