Every current U.S. coin and every denomination of paper currency bears the inscription “In God We Trust”. Anyone born after the mid-20th century is likely unaware that this was not always the case. The first coin to bear this inscription was the 2-cent piece minted in 1864. However, it was not until 1956 that Congress passed a bill requiring this phrase to be inscribed on all forms of U.S. currency. The intent of the phrase is to affirm our nation’s dependence upon Almighty God. Some may find it ironic that this declaration appears on our money. This irony stems from the fact that many in our country place more trust in the “almighty dollar” than they do in the Almighty God.
The concept of expressing one’s trust in God may have come late to American society, but it has a long and rich history. It is, in fact, the foundation of God’s relationship with His creation. From the beginning of time God has urged mankind to trust in Him, rather than trusting in themselves or in any man-made deity. When His people have truly trusted in Him, they have been blessed. When they have placed their trust elsewhere, they have suffered for it.
The Old Testament abounds with exhortations to trust in God. The psalms, in particular, pay tribute to the benefits of trusting in God. One of the most powerful of these is Psa. 56:4. In this psalm David said, “In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere man do to me?” In v. 11 he added, “In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” David’s confidence is underscored by the writer of Hebrews, who quoted this statement in Heb. 13:6 as one of his final exhortations to faithful service.
Saying that one trusts in God is easy. Living up to that profession is more challenging. Every day Americans exchange currency that declares their trust in God. They do so for goods and services of all sorts, many of which belie the words emblazoned upon that currency. They do so without giving thought to the true meaning of this inscription. We don’t expect unbelievers to think about this irony, but even Christians can be guilty of it.
This is because trusting in God is more than a motto. It is a way of life that is characterized by humble obedience to His word, and complete dependence upon Him for everything one needs. This truth is demonstrated in the history of God’s people during the Old Testament era. When the kings and people of Israel obeyed God, their trust in Him was rewarded with His blessings and deliverance from their enemies. When they disobeyed God, their lack of trust resulted in calamity. In Isa. 31:1 the prophet chastised Israel saying, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong; but they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!”
Our Savior put trust in a context that is particularly apropos to our time. In the Sermon on the Mount He urged his audience not to worry about their daily sustenance, but to instead rely on God. In Mt. 6:33 He said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” This is the key to trusting in God. If we put Him first, which means to obey Him in everything we do, then our trust will be rewarded. If we trust in God, we will be faithful to Him and we need not worry, because He is our helper. If we live a life of trust in God, our life will be better here on earth, and we will have a place in God’s house forever.