'Trust in the Lord with all your heart.'
At Christmas last year a dear friend, knowing my family was going through a difficult time, put together a remarkable care package: gifts for my children, beautiful wine, books and more.
While all of this was overwhelming and greatly appreciated, one particular gift stood out, and has continued to play an almost daily role in my life. Enclosed with a heartfelt letter were three small message cards with simple sayings on each, all around the theme of trust.
The first, from Jeremiah, states simply, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord . . . plans to give you hope and a future. . . . You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (29.11, 13).
The other is from James: "Trust – in his timing, Rely – on his promises, Wait – for his answers, Believe – in his miracles, rejoice – in his goodness; Relax – in his presence" (4.8).
My favourite card is from Proverbs: "Trust in the Lord, with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct your paths" (3.5-6).
The origins of the word "trust" probably date back to the 13th century and draw on Scandinavian roots, though with close ties to the Old English trowe, meaning faithful.
Dictionaries provide related words including reliability, goodness, honesty. Trust is also defined as a synonym of faith – as in, to have faith in someone.
It occurred to me as I reflected on this, how easily we use the word "trust" and also how shallow our understanding of this deeply layered term can often be. I also realize how difficult the instructions on those message cards actually are to follow.
It is no small thing to pause in a moment of crisis and to stand back from the pain. It is not easy, when difficulties arise to remember that beneath it all, God has a plan for us, and we need to trust him.
I have never been one to meditate, and once joked with a facilitator of a meditation workshop that I organized for my staff, that I wouldn't be joining them: I was too stressed to meditate. But of course, that is precisely when we need to reflect.
These three cards, which I now carry with me always, together with a beautiful rosary that was gifted to me long ago, are now part of a daily routine: one that reminds me to pause, to reflect and to thank God for the paths he will direct me soon to take.
(Dr. Gerry Turcotte is president, St. Mary's University in Calgary.)