Happiness and Trust

Posted July 4, 2008

A craggy farmer once gave me an unsophisticated guideline for success that abounded with homespun wisdom: “Gumption,” he opined, “is partly grit and partly grin.” By “gumption” he meant willingness to grapple with a problem; “grit” implies determination in that effort. The “grin” is the anticipated satisfaction of accomplishment.

The personalized faith called trust-found in sincere God-seekers-has a built-in “grin” as one of its authenticating characteristics. This was expounded by David as joy and delight found in every trusting soul: “Trust in the LORD … so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will act” (Ps 37:3-5, emphasis mine).

To delight in someone means to experience great joy and pleasure in his or her presence; this happens, of course, only if we know and love that person. To “take delight in the Lord” we must come to know him intimately and experience his fathomless love for us. This trust, as the psalm says, implies commitment, because in trusting God we commit to him all that we have-our lives, jobs, families, possessions, and so on. Our trust in him is a conviction that he will take care of us better than we could do it without his help. This kind of trust enables us to wait, in quiet joy, for him to work out what is best for us. Knowing him as a loving, caring God makes it easy to delight in him while we settle down in trustful surrender to await his inscrutable providential workings.

Yet what about God’s delight in us? Certainly he delights in blessing us with answers to our prayers. Like any good father, he is delighted to see his children happy. He delights in giving gifts to us; even more, he delights in imparting himself to us. He wants us to realize that if we seek him and rely on him, we will find him (see Jer 29:13) and also an armload of gifts he has for us. “Strive first for … God … and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mt 6:33).

We don’t have to exert much grit to get a grin, for when we trust in God he delights in making us delighted. No one could say it simpler and more pungently than the psalmist: “O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you” (Ps 84: 12).

Fr. John Hampsch from “Pathways of Trust”