I know God is able to do miracles and even raise the dead. I have to admit, however, that it is hard to depend on Him when I’m going through dark times. Does this mean I lack faith?

Most of us struggle to “be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6, NKJV) when we are agitated or frightened by events in our lives. Still, we can learn to let God be God and accept His direction and judgment.

But in direct response to your question, I think you may be confusing the concepts of faith and trust. There is a very old illustration that brings these two ideas into sharp focus. It goes like this: Imagine yourself near the beautiful and dangerous Niagara Falls on the border between Canada and upstate New York. Suppose a circus performer has strung a rope across the falls with the intention of pushing a wheelbarrow to the other side. If he loses his balance, he will surely drown or be crushed in the churning waters below. Just before stepping on the rope, the stuntman turns to you and says, “Do you think I can accomplish this feat?”

You reply that his reputation has preceded him and that you fully believe he has the ability to walk the tightrope. In other words, you have faith that he will succeed.

But then he says, “If you really believe I can do it, how about getting in the wheelbarrow and crossing to the other side with me?” To accept that invitation would be an example of remarkable trust.

It is not difficult for some of us to believe that God is capable of performing mighty deeds. After all, He created the entire universe from nothingness. He has the power to do anything He chooses. Having faith in Him can be a fairly straightforward thing.

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To demonstrate trust, however, takes the relationship a step further. It involves the element of risk. It requires us to depend on Him to keep His promises, even when proof is not provided. It is continuing to believe when the evidence points in the opposite direction. Yes, it is getting into the wheelbarrow and making the perilous journey across the falls. I’m convinced that faith in moments of crisis is insufficient, unless we are also willing to trust our very lives to His care. That is a learned response, and some people find it more difficult than others by reason of temperament.

Get more of Dr. Dobson’s perspective from his book, When God Doesn’t Make Sense

The above answer and more information on family topics can be found in the Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide.

Copyright © 2005 Focus on the Family, Used with Permission.

Dr. Dobson is founder and chairman of the board of Focus on the Family, a non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to the preservation of the family.