Straight Paths

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5–6, esv).

Christians don’t generally set out to doubt God. For most of us, life’s pain simply catches us off guard. Doubt is like a wrecking ball, pounding against the foundation of your life—what you believe about God. However, doubts should drive us back to God’s promises, not cause us to back away from Him! When you say, “I don’t know exactly what God is doing, but I know He’s in control,” that’s evidence you’re trusting Him. When life slams you, you need something to wrap your faith around, like Proverbs 3:5–6.

This is life verse material, one of the most cherished promises in the Bible. Let’s take it a phrase at a time.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart” is obviously an exhortation to turn from doubt. When you trust God with all your heart, you’re making a deliberate choice not to let unbelief trample all over your soul. You’re choosing to walk by faith with both feet—and with your heart!

“ . . . and do not lean on your own understanding.” You can’t trust God wholeheartedly if you’re also depending on your own understanding. When a crisis hits, do you lean on your own resources and know-how? Is your confidence rooted in your own ability to get out of tight spots? Are you self-reliant or God-dependent?

If your trust in God is limited by your understanding of His ways, then you will always have a limited trust. You’re not going anywhere good if you doubt God’s Word and lean on only what you can see or figure out.

Instead, “In all your ways acknowledge him.” In every choice, recognize God and factor in His participation. You might be able to fix that situation or relationship by yourself, but you don’t just want to get through it; you want to honor God in it. If you want to please Him, then in all your ways, put Him first.

Let’s take a practice run at this. Suppose you run into financial problems: job loss, rotten investment, blizzard of bills, rising cost of living. Maybe things are getting so tight that you don’t know how you’re going to make ends meet. How do you respond?

If you lean on your own understanding, you say, “Austerity measures! Tighten the belts. No more money to charity. We can’t sponsor our little Compassion child anymore; she’s going to have to take care of herself. No more juice boxes in the kids’ lunches; they can drink from the water fountain. We’re not giving to the church anymore; they seem to be doing fine.” While it’s wise to spend carefully, if your plan is to just gut it out, then you’re leaning on your own understanding.

If you trust in God wholeheartedly, you say, “We’re going to keep our commitments, including our tithe. We’re choosing to believe that 90 percent with God’s help is actually more than 100 percent if we’re on our own. We can’t get out of this tight spot without God, so we are going to put Him first, acknowledge He’s right here with us, and trust Him to come through.” (If you still feel squeamish about that, read Malachi 3:10.)

“And he will make straight your paths.” This is a conditional promise. You have to do something. Your part is to trust in, acknowledge, and lean on God; His part is to make your paths smooth and passable.

Every person faces bumps in the road. Imagine driving on a gravel path pocked with potholes and speed bumps in a dangerously overloaded vehicle. Down with living like that! For the one who trusts God as Proverbs 3:5–6 describes, God will level the ground, giving you the safest, fastest, smoothest path.


  • Would you describe yourself as self-reliant or God-dependent? When a crisis hits, do you lean on yourself or on God?
  • No matter what happens, God is in complete control. (This is the biblical doctrine of God’s sovereignty.) To what extent do you truly believe that?

Lord God, “help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)! When I hit bumps in the road, I want to choose to trust You with all my heart. Forgive me for leaning on my own resources. I want to acknowledge You in every circumstance. Please make my paths straight. You are able because You are sovereign. Nothing is too hard for You. Let my life reflect the stability of knowing that You see and know and are at work on my behalf. Thank You that You are in control. In Jesus’ strong name, amen.