Monday, August 29, 2016

Trusting God in the Midst of Trials, Part One

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Not long ago, I introduced the topic of practical spirituality.

One of the key questions I believe needs a strong dose of practical spirituality is how to trust God, particularly in the midst of a trial. It amazes me how many secret struggles people carry with them every day. What a relief it would be to serve a God we can trust with our circumstances, our fears, our dreams. As Christians, we know intellectually we should trust God, but convincing our heart is sometimes another matter.

As someone who just experienced the most heart-wrenching, soul-shaking year of my life, trusting God in the midst of trials has been of particular interest to me. In the course of praying and reading the Bible, God taught me that trusting Him is like trusting anyone else: we must get to know Him! How we do this is where practical spirituality comes into play, by spending time with God.

Don't worry, I'm not going to start preaching about personal devotional time, even though I do think that is a critically important step of learning the character of God. In this discussion, however, I would like to ask you a question: who do you believe God is?

Who Do You Believe God Is?

"'But what about you?' [Jesus] asked. 'Who do you say I am?'" Matthew 16:15 (NIV).

This question lays the foundation of whether or not you trust God. 

At one time in my life, I would have given you some pretty convincing Sunday School answers about who I believed God was. I would tell you Jesus is my Savior and I worship God. But deep down, I thought God was withholding good things from me in order to punish me. I thought God considered me unworthy, and my lackluster relationship with Him reflected those beliefs. I unsurprisingly had zero trust in God. Who would trust someone like that? I realized I believed quite a few lies about the God I claimed to serve, and that motivated me to investigate His true character.

So no Sunday School answers here! Deep down, what do you believe about God? If you are not sure, your attitudes about the things of God are a good indicator. Are you generally happy to go to church and be in the assembly of believers? Are you hungry for the teachings of God? Do you apply those teachings as best you can to your life? If not and you find yourself struggling to trust God, you may need to examine your beliefs. Let's look at what we should believe about God in order to trust Him.

God Exists & He is Good

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe He exists and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him" Hebrews 11:6 (NIV, emphasis added).

This verse lays the foundation for our trust in God. First, we must believe He exists. We cannot trust God if He isn't real. 

Second, we must believe He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. This is really the key to unlocking your trust in God. You must believe God has your best interests at heart, that He is good. Because if God exists and He is good, it completely changes the purpose of trials in our lives. A good God does not allow trials without a bringing good from it (Romans 8:28). A good God does not withhold any good thing from His children (Matthew 7:7-11). A good God can be a Father rather than a punisher (Isaiah 63:16). A good God is worth trusting, even if we don't understand our circumstances, because we know He is in control (Isaiah 55:8-11).

The Challenge

Answer Jesus' question, "who do you say I am?"

If you can answer honestly "God is good", you have the seed of trust already planted in your heart. If not, we have some work to do! But no worries, because we serve a good God. And with practical spirituality, we can learn the practical steps to increasing our trust in Him.

In Part Two, I will share one of the concepts that has made the biggest difference in how I trust God.
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