I’ve done a lot of work in theatre over the years, both as an actor and a director, and one thing I’ve found is that for a production to be successful, the actors need to have total faith and trust in the director, the cast has to accept that the director has the final say. One of the hardest tasks of a director is when an actor comes up all excited because they have a great idea for something that will get them a laugh or a nice dramatic moment on stage, only to have to tell them no because it spoils some other moment that the director is working toward, or interrupts the way a scene is flowing. The actors have to trust that although they are all trying to play their characters the best that they can, the director is the one who has the big picture in mind, and that if someone is stopped from having their moment in the spotlight, its only because the needs of the overall play have to come before those of any of the individual players.
You really can’t have faith without trust, and that’s especially true when something happens that you just don’t understand, or don’t agree with. If you don’t have trust, these can be times when you give up and walk away.
In John chapter 6, Jesus tells the crowd that is following Him that He is the living bread come down from Heaven, that unless you eat of the flesh and drink of the blood of the Son of Man, that you will have no life in you, but if you eat and drink then you will have eternal life. They take Him literally when He speaks of this bread from Heaven that will give eternal life, and they want to know what they must do in order to eat this bread. They think that Jesus will reward his followers with some sort of actual bread that will let them live forever. So when Jesus tells them that He is the bread from Heaven, they get totally confused, they are still trying to make literal sense out of what He is saying. And the more Jesus tells them, the more confused and upset they get. When He reaffirms that He is the bread of life, and that you must eat His flesh and drink His blood to gain eternal life, they angrily leave Him, along with a number of His newer disciples who also fail to understand what He is saying. When He asks the twelve if they will also leave, Peter says, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the holy one of God.‘
That is such a wonderful statement of pure faith and trust. Peter isn’t saying that they are staying because they understand where the others didn’t, not because they have a special insight that Jesus shared with them and not the others. At this point they are probably just as confused as the rest of the crowd and the disciples who left were. The difference is that the twelve had faith in Jesus, and they trusted Him. They believed in who He was and what He was. And because of this faith and this trust they were able to accept what He told them. It wasn’t necessary that they understood, or even that they agreed. What was important that because of their faith and trust they were simply able to accept that it was so.
Sometimes in our journey with Jesus we’ll have our own crisis of faith. We’ll hit something that we just don’t understand, or that we may even disagree with. Many times people respond to these times by demanding an explanation. They have to know with certainty exactly why something is so. But the problem with demanding an explanation for God’s actions is that by doing so we are really trying to drag God down to our level. The human mind just hates to admit that there are things that are beyond our comprehension, and so we try to force God into this little box in order for us to be able to say that we understand Him, rather than simply having the trust in Him to say that we accept that this is so, even if we can’t understand the reason why it is.
Faith with trust is realizing that we aren’t able to see the big picture, we can’t possibly know all the whys and wherefores of God’s plan for us. It is realizing that when we emphasize the need to understand over the need to simply believe, we are trying to place our own needs in front of God’s will. Although it may be difficult for us at times, faith backed up by trust is being able to say with all our hearts, “Not my will, but Thine be done!‘