Trusting God Even When Life Hurts
Trusting God Even When Life Hurts
After Pastor Dave's powerful sermon on God's purpose for trials in our lives, you might be looking for some more material on what it looks like to lean on God in tumultuous times. Jerry Bridges explores this in-depth in his book Trusting God. Here is an excerpt:
The letter did not bring good news. A close relative, very dear to me, had just learned she had bone cancer. Malignant cells from a previous bout with cancer had lain dormant for eight years before invading the skeletal parts of her body. One hip was already almost destroyed; the doctor was amazed she was still able to walk. Such incidents are all too common these days. In fact, during the writing of this chapter I had seven friends, all with cancer, listed on my “urgent” prayer page.
But cancer or other physical ailments are obviously not the only sources of anxiety. Over lunch a few weeks ago a businessman friend confided that his company is perilously close to bankruptcy; another experiences heartache over a spiritually rebellious teenager. The truth is, all of us face adversity in various forms and at different times. A recent best-selling book by a secular psychiatrist put it very well with this simple opening statement: “Life is difficult.”
Adversity and its accompanying emotional pain come in many forms. There may be the heartache of an unhappy marriage, or the disappointment of a miscarried pregnancy, or grief over a spiritually indifferent or rebellious child. There is the anxiety of the family breadwinner who has just lost his job and the despair of the young mother who has learned she has a terminal illness.
Others experience the frustration of dashed hopes and unfulfilled dreams; a business that turned sour, or a career that never developed. Still, others experience the sting of injustice, the dull ache of loneliness, and the stabbing pain of unexpected grief. There is the humiliation of rejection by others, of demotion at work and, worst of all, of failure that is one’s own fault. Finally, there is the despair of realizing that some difficult circumstances-- a physical infirmity of your own or perhaps a severely handicapped child—will never change.
All of these circumstances and scores more contribute to the anxiety and emotional pain we all experience at various times and in varying degrees. Some pain is sudden, traumatic, and devastating. Other adversities are chronic, persistent, and seemingly designed to wear down our spirits over time.
God’s people are not immune from such pain. In fact, it often seems as if theirs is more severe, more frequent, more unexplainable, and more deeply felt than that of the unbeliever. The problem of pain is as old as the history of man and just as universal. Even creation itself, Paul tells us, has been subjected to frustration and groans as in the pain of childbirth. (Romans 8:20-22)
So the question naturally arises “Where is God in all of this?” Can you really trust God, i.e, is He dependable in times of adversity? But the second meaning is also critical, can you, trust God? DO you have such a relationship with God and such a confidence in Him that you believe He is with you in your adversity even though you do not see any evidence of His presence and His power?
It is not easy to trust God in times of adversity. NO one enjoys pain, and when it comes, we want it relieved as quickly as possible. Even the Apostle Paul pleaded with God three times to take away the thorn in his flesh before he finally found God’s grace to be sufficient. Joseph pleaded with Pharoh’s cupbearer to “get me out of this prison” (Genesis 40:14). And the writer of Hebrews very honestly states, “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.”
In order to trust God, we must always view our adverse circumstances through the eyes of faith, not of sense. And just as the faith of salvation comes through hearing the message of the gospel (Romans 10:17), so the faith to trust God in adversity comes through the Word of God alone. It is only in the Scriptures that we find an adequate view of God’s relationship to and involvement in our painful circumstances. It is only from the Scriptures, applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, that we receive the grace to trust God in adversity.
In the arena of adversity, the Scriptures teach us three essential truths about God—truths we must believe if we are to trust Him in adversity. They are:
- God is completely sovereign.
- God is infinite in wisdom.
- God is perfect in love.
Someone has expressed these three truths as they relate to us in this way: “God in his love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom, He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty, He has the power to bring it about.”
In order to trust God, we must know Him in an intimate, personal way. David said in Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” To know God’s name is to know him in an intimate personal way. It is more than just knowing facts about God. It is coming into a deeper personal relationship with Him as a result of seeking Him in the midst of our personal pain and discovering Him to be trustworthy. It is only as we know God in this personal way that we come to trust Him.