Learning to Trust
Trust in him at all times, O people, pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.(Psalm 62:8)
It is difficult to believe God is in control when we’re in the midst of heartache or grief. I’ve struggled with this many times myself, including two recent occasions. Each time I’ve had to decide if I would trust Him, even when my heart ached. I realized anew that we must learn to trust God one circumstance at a time.
It’s not a matter of my feelings but of my will. I never feel like trusting God when adversity strikes, but I can choose to do so anyway. That act of will must be based on belief, and belief must be based on the truth that God is sovereign. He carries out His own good purposes without ever being thwarted, and nothing is outside His sovereign will. We must cling to this in the face of adversity and tragedy, if we’re to glorify God by trusting Him.
I’ll say this as gently and compassionately as I know how: Our first priority in adversity is to honor and glorify God by trusting Him. Gaining relief from our feelings of heartache or disappointment or frustration is a natural desire, and God has promised to give us grace sufficient for our trials and peace for our anxieties( 2Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:6,7). But just as God’s will is to take precedence over our will (“Yet not as I will, but as you will- Matthew 26:39), so God’s honor is to take precedence over our feelings. We honor God by choosing to trust Him when we don’t understand what He is doing or why He has allowed some adverse circumstance to occur. As we seek God’s glory, we may be sureHe has purposed our good and that He won’t be frustrated in fulfilling that purpose.
If you visit a construction site you might observe piles of materials lying around. Each of them have a planned purpose but at the moment in their current status, they can be hazardous. As I was putting the stone on my foundation, there were rocks lying around. Each of them eventually found a place on the wall, but when they were lying on the ground, I found myself often stumbling over them.
Life is filled with lots of pieces that can either be categorized as building blocks or stumbling blocks. What differentiates them is what is done with them. If they are just a jumble of experiences that we do not put into place in our experience they can become weighty stones that cause us to trip and even fall down. Just as the rocks on my foundation, when they were out of place they were at the least a nuisance that I had to work around and often they were a challenge to step around, and sometimes they were a hazard, but when placed in their proper place, they became an object of beauty.
The Bible tells us that a God works all things for our good. This doesn’t mean that He causes all things. Sometimes the difficulties of life have their root in our decisions, sometimes in someone else’s decisions, or even life just happens. Far too often we seek to know why these things occur and waste our time trying to figure out “what we did to deserve this”, rather that bringing it to the Lord, placing in His hands and watching Him turn “all things for our good.”
Sometimes our trials are designed in God’s purpose for the benefit of others. Consider Christ and His sufferings or the Apostle Paul and his imprisonment; how they benefited many others. The trial of Joseph was to put him in a place to rescue his family from famine and death. Some things we go through, we may never know in this life their value. We read of many who suffered and died without ever seeing fully their purpose, but those who came after reaped the blessings of these.
We as believers must choose the path of trusting God. This is unfortunately not a once in a lifetime decision, but a daily decision. We can trust God with one area of our lives while we struggle with another. We can trust God in one adversity and doubt Him in another. Trust is a continual decision and an act of will. It’s easy to say that we trust God, especially when things are going well, but it’s another thing to trust God in the storm.
This is why we must find the Rock and anchor down before the storm. Although I’m not a boater, I know that trying to set the anchor in the storm is difficult if not impossible. Wise boaters set their anchor before the storm and insure their anchor is set to an immovable object. They set it deep and when the storm comes and the boat rocks, it remains safe because of its anchor. This is imperative for us as believers to anchor our hopes, our faith, our confidence to the Rock of Ages. In our shifting environment where all that we have expected to be stable is no longer, we dig down deep into our relationship with God. In the hurricane, only those who have set the anchor deep will survive. If your anchor is too shallow, it will drag and become even more of a hazard, so set it deep and firm.
When we speak of faith, we often imply that faith is designed to fix everything. If we “have faith” our need is supplied, our bodies healed, our families blessed, and life turns out well; or so we say. I’m learning that there is a deeper walk with God, the walk of trust where my most important question is not, “God when will this be over and when will You give me what I’m asking?”; but “God, how can you use this to draw me closer and how can You use this to show show Your love and glory to those around me?” My trust is that no matter what happens, at the end of the day, God will either keep me from the storm or keep me in the storm, so I choose to trust Him.
I realize that beyond the personal challenges that we all face, there are greater challenges especially in our world right now. The virus, the upcoming election, the violence, the increasing cost of living, and for the church, the challenges of when we return to in person meeting, how we meet the need of connection and care, and what the future may be are strong contributors to the anxieties and fears we face. I do not believe that a God is the author of any of this, but I do believe that God can and will use these things for His glory and purpose. Like Abraham, God is calling us into a journey of trust. The Bible tells us that:
“God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], A very present and well-proved help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change And though the mountains be shaken and slip into the heart of the seas, Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains tremble at its roaring. Selah. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, The holy dwelling places of the Most High. God is in the midst of her [His city], she will not be moved; God will help her when the morning dawns. The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered and were moved; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold [our refuge, our high tower]. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has brought desolations and wonders on the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow into pieces and snaps the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. “Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold [our refuge, our high tower]. Selah.”
So let us rise, children of the Most High God. Let us throw of our rags of anxiety and fears. Let us clothe ourselves with the knowledge of the love and grace of our God. Let us choose to trust that He controls what we do not understand. Let us wait until the Master Builder takes all our stumbling blocks and places them into proper place in our lives so that we may see the beauty of all He has prepared for us.
While we wait for this, let us live out the words to this old song of faith:
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand
When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on his unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
Dr. John Thompson