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The Terror of Trust

by | Jun 26, 2023 | Faith, Surrender, Trust

“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:

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

What exactly terrified the disciples after the sea was calmed? Why such “fear and amazement”, as Luke describes it? (See 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:

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

Copyright © 2022, by Diane Eaton <>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional .
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

Reprinted from PresbyCan with author’s permission