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)

I was recently involved in a fatal car collision, when an oncoming motorcycle crossed into the lane I was driving. Sadly, the motorcyclist did not make it. Please be in prayer for his family and friends.

Physically, I walked away with minor injuries. But it was a serious and significant event, what many would call traumatic.

Going through this experience has affected me in several ways, but there is one thing that has stood out most: the need to establish the habit of trusting in God BEFORE you experience tragedy, trauma or loss.

In the week after the collision, I spoke with a couple chaplains for the local fire department. Both of them affirmed something similar: when they walk into a tragic or traumatic scene, they can tell immediately if the people suffering are believers or not. Those who have learned to trust in God may be incredibly sad and hurt, may have questions, may be overcome with emotions, but they are rarely despairing. Whatever the situation, they still have hope and purpose in life. And it shows to all around.

Here’s the thing: this kind of confident trust in God is not something you learn immediately, especially in a moment of tragedy. Trust in the goodness and sovereignty of God, as a living being, is a habit or posture you develop over time. As you go through life, you prove God’s faithfulness over and over; you are assured of his presence and grace, even though you don’t always feel it.

And as you practice this trust in God in easier times, when harder times come your natural reflex—like muscle memory—is to continue trusting God.

God calls us to a life of trusting in him. Not merely as a crutch to get through hard times, but as our hope, comfort and joy in all times. Because he is our greatest good.