6 Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
In the early 20th century, it became common to see a sign behind the cash register in stores: “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash.” It was a play, obviously, on the official motto of the United States that’s been on our currency since the Civil War. It was also a warning to the purchaser: unless you’re Jesus, don’t expect to write a check here.
There is a deep irony in having the phrase “In God We Trust” emblazoned on our money. Money is probably the most trustworthy thing we can think of – the thing most of us, more than anything else, look to for security. How much we make, how much we have, how much things cost. That all feels very tangible to us. We can do the math and tell if we have enough. Or not. God doesn’t seem to play much part in it.
The psalmist, in talking about trust, evoked a wartime theme: generals and kings would look at the superior army as the one with the greatest numbers of chariots and cavalry. Again, do the math.
Mathematics is not faith.
I love math as much and probably more than the next person. But when you can calculate and quantify your likelihood of success or failure, when you can stand on numbers and statistics, when your trust is in something as tangible as currency, you’re no longer in the realm of faith.
Faith is, by definition, trust in that which cannot be seen (Hebrews 11:1). It’s not able to calculated or quantified. That’s why it’s so hard for us to “trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (v.7) And that’s also why it’s so easy to put the things that CAN be calculated and quantified – like our bank accounts – in place of God. Because when we feel anxious and afraid, we long for the security and safety of things that feel tangible to us.
I love mathematics, but it’s not faith. Part of the spiritual journey is learning to distinguish between the two, and trusting God even in the situations where the math doesn’t look so good!
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
In what areas of your life have you allowed your anxiety around the tangibles – the things you can calculate and quantify – to crowd out your trust in God?
Prayer: God, when we are fearful, remind us that it was your powerful hand that created the universe, and created us. Give victory to your anointed who call on you today! Amen.