Trusting God When It’s Difficult
Robert D. Pace
(Definition) The word trust is a wonderful word. When you trust someone or something it means you are confident about its integrity, its character, and its ability. In other words, the object of trust must be reliable before you can fully trust it. Let’s take a moment to illustrate what I mean.
(Illustration) How many here have crossed a gigantic bridge? I’m talking about one similar to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Sunshine Skyway in St. Petersburg, Florida or the Brooklyn Bridge in New York? They can be frightful experiences, especially when they sway in a howling wind. But if you have crossed these type bridges it helps describe what trust is. When we cross these mega-structures we are placing our confidence in the architects that designed it, the workers that constructed it, and the material that composes it. We’ve chosen to rely on the integrity and character of things outside ourselves.
However, there are people with phobias who won’t cross a towering bridge despite its calculated design. And their unwillingness to trust prevents them from moving forward. This is what God wants us to understand about our progress in life. Christians must be willing to trust God in all things in order to move forward.
The Bible is a book about God. Yes, it talks about man, creation, angels, heaven and hell, but it is primarily a book that testifies to the perfection of God and His Son Jesus Christ.
The Bible speaks of God’s omnipotence to create and manage all things.
It discloses the beauty of His moral excellence. He is loving, compassionate, merciful, good, patient, and faithful.
It reveals a transcendent God who is omniscient, eternal, ubiquitous, and unchanging.
There is a reason Scripture expressly details God’s character and nature. The Bible seeks to build trust in the heart of men toward God. It seeks to show that God is completely reliable when we cross bridges, face storms, and confront dilemmas:
It’s why the Bible shows God’s people being trapped before the Red Sea. God can make a passage through the waters!
It’s why He shows us Daniel being betrayed and thrown into a den of lions. God can turn lions into pussycats!
And yet, it’s why the Bible shows us prophets being stoned, apostles being martyred, and Christ being crucified. That’s because there is trust in the future tense. The book of Hebrews says there is a “better resurrection” awaiting those who die for their Faith.
We should trust God in all circumstances; and there are plenty of opportunities that Christians have to trust God. He wants us trusting Him when life is balmy and pleasant and He wants us trusting Him when life is stormy and uncontrollable. It doesn’t matter if we are surrounded by friends or we are trapped in the lair of our adversaries. There is never a time when we should displace our trust in God. Never!
Since the Bible has built a case for Christians to implicitly trust God, I want to investigate how we can trust God even when life gets terribly difficult. What does God expect from us when we are overwhelmed and life is intractable and unmanageable?
(Transition) First, let’s consider this:
1. When it is difficult to trust God, contemplate His moral excellence.
Have you ever done this? Have you ever contemplated God’s character? Do you ever get alone and reflect on what the Bible says about His nature? God wants you to do this. Remember, God is compassionate, faithful, loving, good, merciful, gracious, and completely wise. Each of those attributes speak of His moral excellence. Now, how does God’s character affect you? Does it make you suspicious or wary of Him? Or does it create an assurance of His reliability?
Listen to David’s contemplation of God in Psalm 36:5. “Your loving-kindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (6) Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; Your judgments are like a great deep O LORD, You preserve man and beast. (7) How precious is Your loving-kindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
That’s why David could say, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and staff comfort me.”
The reason God makes trust a priority for Christians is because it relates directly to His character. And when Christians distrust God it impugns His testimony and implies He is unreliable. It does this because God went out of his way in Scripture to prove He is trustworthy! He has thoroughly exemplified His unswerving faithfulness. But ultimately, when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, Christians that failed to trust will discover that it didn’t reflect on God’s character, it reflected wholly on their unbelief.
The oldest book of the Bible is Job. And the first lesson this book chronicles is a blistering account of a righteous man suffering intolerable circumstances. It reveals the tragedy that befalls the most righteous man on Earth. And then, suddenly, when Job is at his lowest point, it shows how God intervenes and equalizes everything that Job had suffered.
That’s why James said in the New Testament, “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful” (5:11).
The first message God publicly demonstrated to mankind was that He is completely trustworthy and faithful. And when we trust God like Job, it supplies a visible witness to the world that God is reliable.
Whenever you are tempted to distrust God, pull apart from all the distractions, quieten your soul, and reflect on His character. Remember His love, mercy, compassion, grace, and faithfulness. When you reflect on God’s character it will inspire faith and dispel doubts.
(Transition) But there is another way to trust God when we find this injunction difficult.
2. When it’s hard to trust God, remember that Christ is with you.
The Lord said in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” He pledged through the Prophet Isaiah that “though a mother should forget her offspring, I will never forget you.” And just before Jesus ascended into heaven he said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
However, there is a unique way the apostle Paul illustrated this to the Christians at Philippi. It’s found in Philippians 4 where Paul is giving his “Farewell” address. Open your Bible’s and let’s read.
“The Lord is Near”
Philippians 4:5 says: “Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
It’s easy to miss one of Paul’s key statements here. It’s only four words and it’s so brief Paul seems to insert it as a parenthetical phrase. But remember, nothing is merely parenthetical with God. The words are found in verse five when Paul says, “The Lord is near.” The KJV expands it to five words when it says, “The Lord is at hand.” Here’s what Paul means when he writes this:
First, Paul uses it as a warning when he says: “God is near. He’s watching your actions, He hears what you say, He sees what you do, and He knows what you think about Him. So be careful!”
But secondly, Paul uses this phrase to encourage us. “God is near”; His promises are available; His power is sufficient; and He hasn’t forgotten you! So trust Him!”
The next time you’re tempted to doubt God remember, “The Lord is near”! He is ever standing by you, and He will never abandon you! Even when you are faithless and a failure, God has promised that “He will remain faithful”! His moral excellence makes it impossible to let you down!
(Illustration) Let’s illustrate it like this. If you have ever been to a Theme Park you have probably ridden a roller coaster. The world’s highest and fastest roller coaster is at the Six Flags Theme Park in New Jersey. It’s called the Kingda Ka Roller Coaster and it ascends to 456 feet and travels at 128 miles per hour. There’s something magnetizing about roller coasters. When we drive to the theme park and pay our $35.00 to park, and $100 to enter, the first ride we run to is the roller coaster. These wobbling carts attract us because of the chill and thrill they elicit. But do you realize that riding a roller coaster is like traveling through life? The roller coaster travels at breakneck speed, whipping and twisting and even looping 360 degrees! But before getting onto a roller coaster several thoughts, consciously or unconsciously, go through your mind. You understand that engineers, smarter than you, have designed the ride to ensure your safety. You understand that a Government department of safety has approved the ride for your welfare. You see that the ride is accompanied with attendants that help you enter and exit your seat. Occasionally, you’ll notice a supervisor that monitors the entire riding process with a computer. Then you’ll be strapped in the cart with a special harness. Consequently, when you consider these facts, it creates an element of trust that gives you confidence to ride the vehicle . . . again and again and again!
Do you see how this relates to life? Life has its turns, twists and 360-degree mind-boggling loops! But the Bible assures us that God will stand with us. God is the divine architect of life that assures us that “all things work together for our good.” He designed the track of life for us and He will go with us to the end.
(Emphasis) Now I have a question for you. Would you trust a rollercoaster, designed by human hands, before you would trust the Almighty and all-wise God to guide and guard you through life?
(Transition) Let me mention a third way you and I can trust God when it’s difficult to do so.
3. When it is difficult to trust God, secure a promise from God’s Word and confess it!
I can hardly remember walking through a trial when I didn’t have my faith anchored in one of God’s promises. There is something about a “promise from God” that will secure your soul, comfort your heart, and bring peace to your mind.
I want to remind you of something about God’s Word. When nothing else works in life, God’s Word works! And it works because His integrity lies within every promise. God’s Word can no more fail than He can fail! Psalm 145:13 says, “The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all he has made.”
Saints of God, be assured of this: The promises of God are reliable! God’s promises are not written to adorn the pages of Scripture. The Lord scribed His promises for your benefit! They are written to bless you! And one way you can appropriate God’s blessing is by asking God to “quicken” one of His promises to you. Then, believe it, confess it, and expect God to honor it. The Psalmist said in Psalm 91:2, “I will say of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”
Verbalizing the appropriate promise is vital to your welfare in time of trouble. When you find yourself in difficult situations, don’t complain. Don’t sit, sulk, and sour! Praise God and thank Him that He has a better plan and is “working all things for your good.”
Don’t ever attempt to weather a storm or walk through a valley without securing a promise from God! Battling the devil in the wilderness is no place to be without a word from God. (Jesus used God’s Word in the wilderness.)
Remember Job’s trial. There was nothing Job could do to avert his trial or shorten it. But there was something Job could do to honor God during His difficulty. Job could make the right confession. And what was his confession? It was, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Pause) When life gets difficult, honor God by confessing your trust in Him regardless of circumstances.
(Transition) And that leads us to another way to trust God when it’s difficult.
4. When it’s difficult to trust God and all your praying and persuasion with God cannot alter circumstances, God wants you to surrender to His plan.
Have you ever been in a situation that you couldn’t change? I have. There are times when all our praying, fasting, and confessing doesn’t change God’s mind or alter the situation that confronts us. When that happens, it’s because God has a better plan than the one we are requesting.
(Example) The night before the crucifixion Jesus struggled to find an alternative. He prayed so hard that His sweat turned to blood. But there was no way out. The Cross couldn’t be averted. If man was ever to be restored to God in righteousness, Jesus had to die in our place. So when Christ couldn’t change the mind of His Father, He trusted God, and prayed, “Not my will, but thine be done.”
That’s a difficult prayer to utter sometimes—“Not my will but Thine be done.” It’s difficult because we don’t want to walk through a dark valley or bear a cross! But if we will learn to bear the cross and die to our determinations we will live to see a resurrection! Remember, when your prayers can’t alter circumstances, surrender to God’s plan, because He has something better in store.
We have a tendency to assume we have failed when we have done all within our power to trust God and things turn out contrary to what we would have designed. But that’s not so. Some of His purposes won’t be understood until we enter the radiance of Christ’s undiminished glory and the veil of darkness is lifted from our eyes.
(Illustration) Some years ago a pastoral friend of mine was called to the bedside of a small child that had died. Instead of calling the mortuary the grief-stricken mother and father decided they would trust God to resurrect their child, so they summoned a preacher. When my friend arrived an air of despair filled the room. The parents desperately wanted to reclaim their daughter even though her brief life had been filled with disease and suffering. The preacher walked over to the corpse and prayed in silence. He then turned to the parents and said, “Your child is in perfect health and running on the streets of heaven. How could you possibly call her back to this world of pain and sorrow”? Instantly, the peace and presence of God filled the room and left no place for anything but trust in a loving Heavenly Savior.
God often has a better plan even when the process of arriving at that better plan is terribly painful. And while God doesn’t ask us to understand the process, He does ask us to accept it and trust Him!
Let’s return to our opening text in Isaiah 12:2. The prophet says, “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.”