Father Mike Schmitz on Why (and How) to Trust God

‘The Bible in a Year’ podcasting priest provides a practical primer on growing in trust of God.

‘Jesus, I trust in you’: Do we really mean that prayer? Father Mike Schmitz asks the faithful to consider that truth practically.
‘Jesus, I trust in you’: Do we really mean that prayer? Father Mike Schmitz asks the faithful to consider that truth practically. (photo: Amy Smith / Amy Smith)

I needed to hear it.

Father Mike Schmitz’s talk, that is.

“Wrestling With God in Scripture” was part of The Bible in a Year Retreat held over the weekend.

I keep thinking about what the host of The Bible in a Year podcast talked about because the topic was so relatable: We need to trust God — but that can be hard to do. Weaving in heartfelt encouragement, a saint’s story and biblical examples, Father Schmitz provided a practical primer on growing in trust.

“We have this thing in us that is hesitant to trust God,” the podcasting priest said.

“If we could possibly have the posture of trust, everything would change.”

He proceeded to talk about a 30-day silent retreat he went on during seminary — and how he spent hours praying with Scripture, especially the Gospels. He said he received two graces after all that time with Jesus that have stayed with him for more than two decades.

“Saying, ‘I love you, Jesus’ was so much richer because of that retreat,” he shared.

“I trust God: That is the most significant grace of my entire life.”

He encouraged retreatants to know without a doubt: “Whatever is going on in my life, whatever season I’m going through … ‘I know you are good, and I know I can trust you. Because you are good, I know I can trust you.’”

“Just because I don’t understand the meaning of this moment doesn’t mean this moment doesn’t have meaning,” he added.

“It’s a gift of the Lord to be able to recognize ‘I trust you,’” the priest underscored, adding that if one doesn’t feel this way, “Pray to God and say: ‘God, help me to trust you. Trust isn’t a feeling — it is a conviction.”

“I don’t have to know where are you working right now — I just have to know you are good,” he stated. “You’re just; you’re mercy; you are love; you are truth; you’re good.”

Lessons From St. Josephine

Then he recapped the story of St. Josephine Bakhita, who was enslaved and horribly tortured.

Eventually, an Italian family purchased her to free her — afterward, she was a servant for the family as a free woman.

And Christ changed her life.

“She encountered Jesus — she desired to be baptized and become Catholic — and she did. She ultimately became a religious sister. She kept her name that the slave owners had given her: It means ‘lucky’ or ‘fortunate.’” 

“It was just remarkable,” Father Schmitz continued. “At one point in St. Bakhita’s life, she made this declaration — after all this pain … all these things that made no sense, the evil that comes from the hearts of human beings — she said: ‘I am definitively loved, and whatever happens to me, I am definitively loved.’”

Father Schmitz added, “That conviction to say that — know that, wherever you are … in this season of life: ‘Here’s what I know: I’ve been definitively loved in Jesus Christ.’ … He is the fullness of God’s love” — is key to our relationship with God.

Referencing Pope Benedict XVI, he explained how God “gives the cross to prove to us: ‘I love you. You can trust me.’”

“The cross is the answer,” Father Schmitz said.

“When we look at the cross, like St. Bakhita, we can say, ‘I am definitively loved’ — no matter what happens to me.”

“I can stop wrestling with God when I know I can trust him. That doesn’t mean I don’t have questions, but it means the way in which I ask the questions ceases to be that of someone who is wondering: ‘Can I trust you?’”

Central Consideration

He proceeded to discuss idolatry and “how often we’re tempted to turn to a false god,” like Adam and Eve.

“The heart of this,” Father Schmitz said, is the “challenge of whether or not I can trust God.”

Satan’s “attack is on Eve’s trust and heart — just like all of us.”

He discussed how Solomon — the wisest man who ever lived — didn’t culminate that way, as “the end of his life is a shipwreck, worshipping false gods (lust) — his wives turn his heart,” Father Schmitz explained.

He underlined how this can happen to our hearts, too:

“We know God is first … but what happens? In the course of our daily lives, we give our hearts to other things.”

“What is first?” he asked retreatants to reflect upon when pondering what their priority is. “You can only have one No. 1.”

He explained that this type of idolatry can happen gradually, “a process of giving my heart a little bit more and a little bit more to anything that isn’t God. … I’ve given my heart to something that is not God,” adding that that’s why he asks penitents in confession: “Has God been in the center of your life? Is God No. 1?”

“There are times when we don’t understand what God is doing. In those moments … I can strive to understand … the answer comes back to the heart.”

In various situations, he continued, “We can be absolutely convinced of the truth of Jesus but then … [some sin] takes our heart away,” and we can end up doing something “that does not match up with the lifestyle of a disciple of Jesus.”

Returning to God is the answer. As Father Schmitz emphasized, “Love is the key.”

God Is a Loving Father

Then he moved on to discuss the other type of idolatry: making one’s own personal version of God — and how a lot of people do this, which is why they don’t see him as a loving Father.

Father Schmitz said that thoughts jotted on his Newman Center’s whiteboard explain what God wants us to know: “God is saying: ‘I’m going to love you as you and want you to love me as me.’”

“God is very present,” Father Schmitz emphasized. “He is a Father.”

Understanding this will help us on our journey through life and aid our aim, the priest stated: 

“The main goal in life is to be a saint.”