Who can we trust?
It is in the nature of divine Truth to instill and restore trust.
Knowing who and what we can trust has become increasingly important. In recent years polls have shown a consistent decline of public trust in major institutions, such as the press, and in public figures, especially elected officials. There also seems to be an erosion of trust between individuals, as fewer people know their neighbors well, go to church together, or participate in community and civic groups.
When we feel we have reason to be distrustful of someone or something, or find that our trust has been betrayed, what is the remedy? Is it possible to regain that trust?
There’s a statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, that I’ve found to be foundational to any trusting relationship: “. . . Trust in Truth, and have no other trusts” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 171). Here, Truth is a synonym for God. The book of Proverbs puts it this way: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (3:5, 6).
A scriptural example of following this precept that has always stood out to me is Joseph, one of Jacob’s sons. He had little reason to trust others. He was betrayed by members of his own family—sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Then he was falsely accused and thrown into prison. But through it all, he wholeheartedly trusted that God alone was governing and guarding his life, and it seems his trust never faltered or failed.
Finally, Joseph was called in front of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to interpret a dream. When he did so by listening to God’s direction, Pharaoh set him up as second-in-command of Egypt. This put Joseph in position to save multitudes from starvation, including his family, when there was a widespread famine. It also led to the opportunity to develop a trusting, warm relationship with his brothers. Joseph’s story is a powerful illustration of the fact that human institutions may fail, and friends and family can fall short, but divine Truth never fails us. It is in the nature of divine Truth to instill and restore trust.
Several years ago, I had an experience that brought this home to me. A position unexpectedly opened on my city council, and I applied, along with seven other candidates, to serve the remainder of the term. The council selected me. One of the other candidates was a young banker who seemed eager to get involved in the community. Sensing that and wanting to encourage him, I nominated him for a seat on the local industrial board.
When the position later came up for re-election, it appeared that I would be unopposed in my bid to continue on the council. At the very last minute, though, my new banker friend called to tell me that he was running against me. While he certainly had every right to run for the office, I could not help feeling a little as if I’d been betrayed by someone for whom I had done a good deed.
I realized that no person had the power to harm me or affect my standing as God’s idea, or expression.
Following the campaign, there was another aspect of trust that confronted me. I found out that an acquaintance who had made a big show of putting my sign in his yard, and who on election day had looked me in the eye and told me he had voted for me, had not, in fact, voted at all. The feeling of having been betrayed was especially painful because I had lost by such a narrow margin.
Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Friends will betray and enemies will slander, until the lesson is sufficient to exalt you; for ‘man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.’ ” She adds, “The author has experienced the foregoing prophecy and its blessings. Thus He teaches mortals to lay down their fleshliness and gain spirituality. This is done through self-abnegation” (p. 266). Vocabulary.com defines self-abnegation as “renunciation of your own interests in favor of the interests of others.”
In the face of the divisiveness that seems to dominate the environment today, we have to guard more than ever against the temptation to believe that those who disagree with us are not only wrong, but our adversary, or even evil. In humility, I turned to God in prayer and realized that I had a choice. I could be bitter about the results and hold a grudge, or I could move on. But moving on would require self-abnegation—supporting the winning candidate and giving him a chance. In other words, it would mean giving up a personal sense of what was right and trusting that God was governing us all. I decided this was the path I would take. This individual and I had a friendly lunch together discussing the campaign, and I sincerely offered my help if he ever felt he needed it.
As for the individual who had lied to me about voting, I knew the only way to get over the feeling of betrayal was to forgive him. Christ Jesus taught, “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:28). Echoing his teachings, Mrs. Eddy writes, “Never return evil for evil; and, above all, do not fancy that you have been wronged when you have not been” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 12).
As I prayed about the situation, I realized that no person had the power to harm me or affect my standing as God’s idea, or expression. Our divine Father-Mother holds all of us in Her tender care, and nothing anyone says or does can disturb us or deprive us of our peace and our share of good. The spiritual reality was that my acquaintance was not a lying mortal but the expression of Truth, God. Holding this correct view of both this person and my banker friend meant trusting in Truth and having no other trusts.
Seeing ourselves and one another as ideas of God, Mind, frees us from the limitations of believing that our happiness, supply, or well-being depends on anyone or anything other than God. And when we know that all good comes from God, it becomes easier to support, do right by, and work with our fellow men and women. Knowing this enables us in turn to be good, faithful, and trustworthy family members, coworkers, neighbors, and citizens.