Trust in the Lord

Imagine you are an ancient king, responsible for a vast area and the lives of many people. Neighboring kings have joined forces and are destroying nearby kingdoms, and now send the message that you are next. What would you do? Would you panic? Would you begin scrambling for a solution? Would you remind yourself that you are in charge and if something must be done, you must do it? Would you try to negotiate a treaty or run and hide yourself in the mountains and wait out the destruction? Would you rally your troops to defend the kingdom and lead them into battle or find safety for what you treasure?

This is the situation in today’s first reading from 2 Kings. And Hezekiah, king of Judah, did none of those things. When he received a message from the king of Assyria, who was threatening doom, Hezekiah went immediately into the temple of the Lord and put all his hope in the God of Israel. He first praised God as the One above all others, the One Who is over all the powers of earth. Then he begged the Lord to consider the threat of Assyria, and how they are a taunt against the one true God. And then he humbly asked God to save the kingdom of Judah from the power of the Assyrians – but not for their own sake, but “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.” Hezekiah begged the Lord to show his power so that others might believe. God responded with the promise that the Assyrians would not win, that the Lord himself would “save this city for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” God, faithful to his promises in every generation, struck down 185,000 soldiers and sent them packing back to Nineveh. Hezekiah won by putting all his trust in the Lord.

This brings us, by an indirect path, to the Gospel for today. We know many of these words, as they have become adages in our language: pearls before swine, do unto others, the narrow gate. Our familiarity with the phrases might obscure for us some of the subtleties in the message. Jesus is very clear about something that we can be a little foggy about: “the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.” When I read that, I am shaken by the truth that many are following the way to destruction. This turns my understanding of the world on its side. I want to believe that most people are good and generous most of the time, that most people follow the rule to “do unto others,” and so they are on their way to eternal life. The Lord’s words tell a different story. “How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” How can this be?

It’s simple, really. The narrow gate and constricted road are not the way of niceness, or the way that our culture sees as “successful.” To understand it, we must look beyond the surface, so that we see it is the way of complete trust in the Lord, rather than self-reliance, no matter how “successful” that makes us.

It is the radical trust that goes to prayer before mustering an army, that trusts in the Lord to fight our social and emotional battles rather than insisting on fixing everything ourselves, that entrusts all the people we love and all their situations to the goodness of God before reaching in with our very limited human resources. It is the deep trust of a child to her loving Father, even when that Father is unseen. It is the loving trust that allows us to finally let go of our worrying and questioning; the love that casts out fear and sets us free.

Most of the people I know ARE good and generous and kind. But God sees into the heart, and he knows the narrow places in each of us that we do not even know ourselves so He knows whether, deep down inside, we rely on ourselves and our own weapons and tools and resources or, like Hezekiah, truly put all our trust in the Lord.

This does not come easily to our fallen human nature, and it is certainly not “the way of the world.” Let us each ask God to show us the ways we insist on taking care of things ourselves, and to give us the grace to entrust each of these things completely to him, so that we at last truly trust in him and are set free to do His will rather than our own.

Kathryn is married to Robert, mother of seven, grandmother to two, and a lay Carmelite. She has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and also as a writer and voice talent for Holy Family Radio. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and presenter, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, individual parishes, and Catholic ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Learn more at or on Facebook @summapax.