Monday, September 5, 2016

Trusting God in the Midst of Trials, Part Two


Recently I have been giving a dose of practical spirituality to the often difficult task of trusting God in the midst of trials. In Part One, I laid the foundation of what you must believe about God in order to trust Him. Now in Part Two, we will discuss the practical action you can take in order to grow your trust in God: thankfulness, otherwise known in the Bible as thanksgiving or gratitude.

About a year ago, I did Priscilla Shirer's study "The Armor of God". This study forever changed my perspective on broad Biblical topics like spiritual warfare, prayer and thankfulness. My discussion today uses and expands upon what I learned from Priscilla's work. In "The Armor of God", Priscilla teaches that thankfulness to God encourages trust and ultimately activates His peace. Today, I am going to focus on the trust part of the cycle.

Two Types of Thankfulness

Did you know there are two types of thankfulness in the Bible?


Psalm 107:8-9 encompasses them both:

"(8) Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, (9) for He satisfied the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things" Psalm 107:8-9 (NIV).

I'm going to flip the verses and talk about the first type of thankfulness with verse 9, Thankfulness for Blessings. As the name suggests, this type basically lists the blessings we have been given by God and thanks Him for them. While this process is extremely important, it does not tend to activate trust in God. Why? Because in our minds, I think we can disassociate God from blessings and attribute them to circumstances or our own hard work.

The key to activating trust in God with gratitude is to thank God for doing what only He can do. This type of thankfulness written about in verse 8 is Thankfulness for Provision. According to verse 8, Thankfulness for Provision means thanking God for His "unfailing love" and "wonderful deeds". For the blessings that could have only occurred because God intervened.
I have known for awhile how important it is for me to thank God for His provision, so I added a category on my blog to remember it in my own life. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
Some people may argue these things would have happened without God, but I know better. We all know the way our world works: injustice, nothing for free, fulfillment always just out of reach. These situations, despite how hopeless they initially felt, would never have worked out without the loving provision of God.

God is Good At All Times

In the midst of my current trials, I remember these past experiences and how God worked them for my good. And if God was working for my good when I didn't even know it, I can trust that He will work things for my good in the future. Even if I can't see it. Even if the situation seems hopeless. THAT is the point where trust begins. A good God is good all the time: past, present and future.

"[I]f we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself" 2 Timothy 2:13 (HCSB).

From this verse in 2 Timothy, we learn God cannot be unfaithful. He cannot act with a different character in the future than He did the past, because He would be denying Himself. God cannot be good to you in the past and not good in the future.

So the next time you find yourself struggling to trust God in the midst of trials, remember those provisions God gave you in the past. Remember He was good then, and He is still good now. I think you will find trusting God a little easier.

Reference: Shirer, Priscilla (2015). The Armor of God. LifeWay Press: Nashville, TN.