The Trust Matrix

The following excerpts come from my book, The Founder of our Peace.

Where do we personally stand in terms of trusting in God relative to ourselves? We can visualize this idea by examining what I call the “Trust Matrix.” The Y-axis indicates our level of effort in solving a problem, and the X-axis measures the extent to which our trust is in God.

The Trust Matrix consists of four quadrants; a person can conceivably have temporal success in any of them. Is it possible to trust in God, do nothing, and have success (lower right-hand quadrant)? Yes, sometimes God is merciful. Can people do nothing, trust in themselves, and still succeed (lower left-hand quadrant)? Of course, some people get lucky. Can people have success if they work very hard and trust in themselves (upper left-hand quadrant)? Yes, this happens frequently. But the sweet spot for both peace and success is in the upper right-hand corner of the quadrant.

We see this during the reign of Jehoshaphat, King of Judah. During his reign, the nation of Judah was attacked by multiple kingdoms. Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast and sincerely prayed to God, “We have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee” (2 Chronicles 20:12; emphasis added).

Notice Jehoshaphat’s explicit acknowledgment that he could not solve this problem on his own. He had done everything he could, and then he focused his eyes on God. Often we will be in the same situation–our back is to the wall, and all we can do is trust in God.

After Jehoshaphat prayed, the message came: “Be not afraid . . . ; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. To morrow . . . ye shall not need to fight in this battle: . . . stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you” (2 Chronicles 20:15–17; emphasis added).

On the day of battle, the different nations who had assembled to attack Jerusalem began fighting each other and destroyed themselves (see 2 Chronicles 20:22–24). The Lord delivered his people, and Jehoshaphat learned something about what it means to stand still and trust in God. Standing still and looking to the Lord brings deliverance in our day as well.

Consider a modern example. Katie was a single mom doing her very best to raise her young son, Peter. She was worried about Peter’s lack of expressive language; he had significant delays and was not improving. Her discouragement grew larger when the elementary school speech therapist plainly told her that she could not help Peter talk. Although the speech therapist didn’t use these specific words, the message was, “Your son is not worth my effort, and because of his other developmental delays, he probably doesn’t have very much to say.” Katie left the meeting with the therapist and cried the whole way home.

Katie didn’t give up—she took Peter to a local college and was told that with rigorous clinical interventions, there was hope. However, therapy would cost $250 per week—much more than Katie’s small salary could provide. At this point, Katie felt she had done all she could do. Like Jehoshaphat, she kept her eyes on the Lord. One afternoon, the college called and told her Peter could receive a scholarship covering 90 percent of the cost of therapy. It was a miracle! Peter made amazing progress at the clinic, and Katie’s trust in God increased as she chose to stand still after doing all she could to find a solution.

Doctrine and Covenants 123:17 provides an important key as to what it means to balance our own diligent efforts with trust in God: “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” Where do you see yourself on the trust matrix? How could you focus more energy on trusting in God?

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