Just read Michael Horton’s short review of a recent devotional book. A few comments struck me. This is insightful:
Who is Jesus and why should I fix my eyes on him?” …When exhortations to trust are separated from a clear proclamation of who Christ is, what he has done, and why he is therefore trustworthy, trust simply becomes a work—something that I need to gin up within myself.
…Compared with the Psalms, for example, [this book] is remarkably shallow. I do not say that with a snarky tone, but with all seriousness. The Psalms first place before us the mighty acts of God and then call us to respond in confession, trust, and thankfulness. But in [this book] I’m repeatedly exhorted to look to Christ, rest in Christ, trust in Christ, to be thankful and long for a deeper sense of his presence, with little that might provoke any of this. Which means that I’m directed not actually to Christ but to my own inner struggle to be more trustful, restful, and thankful.
Consequently, trust becomes a work. Nothing depends on us, but everything depends on us.
I don’t know how many years I went before understanding this. Even now, Horton just brought fresh clarity.
When we try to trust Christ, rest in Christ, fight for faith, strive to believe, etc, that’s good. We must. But we can subtly take our eyes off of Christ and his gracious crosswork for us and turn them to our own striving and fight for faith. We may say we’re accepted by faith and not works all we want, but we can still subtly transform our faith into a work. And it becomes just as burdensome.
It sounds contradictory, but sometimes we just need to stop trying so hard to believe and just believe. We need to stop thinking, “c’mon Drew! Trust harder, try harder, rest more, believe!” and start thinking, “Jesus is a friend of sinners. He died for me. It’s not up to how much I work or how strong I trust. His grip on me is strong even if my grip on him is weak. He accepts and celebrates even my mustard seed of faith. I trust him.”