Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Do You Trust God?"

“Do you trust God?” the visiting speaker asked, “raise your hand if you do.”

We lifted hands enthusiastically.

“Of all those who just rose your hands, raise your hand again if you have house insurance,” he said.

Many members of the congregation lifted their hand again.

He looked at us meaningfully. “You have all just confessed that you trust God, so why then, I ask you, do you have house insurance? If you truly trust God, then show that trust by your actions…”

I am going to draw the curtain over that particular sermon at this point and shout “STOP!”

This speaker had twisted trusting in God to mean, “Trusting in God means trusting Him to keep you safe from suffering, to keep you away from the storms of life.”

That is not what trusting in God means. We must maintain realistic goals, bearing in mind that everyone goes through trials and experiences times of discouragement and disappointment. To trust in God means to trust Him in all circumstances, in the hard times and the good times, as David shares in Psalm 23:4:

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 your staff,
they comfort me.


Being a Christian is not a game of Monopoly, God does not give us a “get out of suffering” free card. But He does take us by the hand and lead us through the hard times, comforting, protecting, and strengthening us.

When I was afflicted by severe depression, the suffering was beyond my comprehension, but I never let go of Jesus, I never stopped trusting in Him, and He lead me through and eventually out of that storm.

Let us consider for a moment a person who believes that trusting in God equates to never having to undergo suffering of any kind. What will happen when that person encounters a major trial or life-storm:
1. They will mostly likely blame God, saying, "God, I trusted You - how could you let this happen?"
2. Or the alternative is to turn upon themselves, saying, “There is something wrong with my faith!”

Having house insurance does not equate to a lack of faith. We do not know what our future holds. We do not know what natural or man-made disasters or accidents lie in our future. Insurance is simply common sense, not to mention mandatory for all Australian drivers.

A couple of years ago two pipes burst in my bathroom ceiling, causing half of it to collapse. This did not happen because I lacked faith. This happened because of physics – the builders who had renovated the house decades ago had deliberately bent the copper pipes to make room for the new plastic ones… For the next few months, while we waited for the insurance company to arrange for it to be repaired, we had to use a bathroom with a hideous, gaping hole above our heads, with dirty insulation, spiders, and even a lizard coming into the bathroom through it.

My initial desperate reaction was for it to be fixed immediately because I could not relax or find peace in such uncomfortable circumstances, for our skin crawled every time we used the bathroom. But the Lord soon began a work in my heart, showing me that peace did not come from having a clean, secure bathroom, but from Him. So I placed my faith and trust in Him and my heart was no longer troubled.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ James 1:2-4

Jesus also said that we will share in His sufferings, and that it is an honour if we are persecuted because of Him. This is not something that we see so much in the Western nations, but in many countries, to become a Christian means being ostracized from one’s family or worse. In the book of Acts, Christians were frequently driven from their homes, but God used this for good for they took the gospel with them when they fled to new countries.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11

When I was in junior high school, I was bullied and persecuted unmercifully because I was a Christian and different from the other children. Those years were very difficult for me, but I clung to Christ and relied upon Him to get me through them and my faith grew and matured. I was even able to be a witness for Christ because of it.

'Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.' Romans 8:17-18

My answer to the question, “Do I trust God?” is: Yes, I do. I trust God to take me by the right hand and lead me along paths of righteousness for His name's sake, to lead me to green pastures and still waters, and also to lead me through darkened valleys beset with storms, and even be with me when surrounded by enemies.

Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
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 your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.



11 comments:

  1. Well, I cannot say I totally trust God. But, I am getting there. Amen. Thank you Peter! Blessings.

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  2. Well said! A very wise debunking of a dangerous misconception. Even in Psalm 23, which you quoted, God promises to go THROUGH the valley with us, not remove the valleys from our paths. Trusting in God does not require we leave off common sense.

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  3. Thanks Andrea :)

    It can be a long process, JBR. Eventhough I clung to God during depression, I still had plenty of doubts, grumblings, and anger towards Him. But He never gives up on us.

    Love to hear from you again, Paula, and thanks for the feedback. I have seen that misconception trip people up so many times.

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  4. I really get annoyed when I hear preachers talk like that. God isn't a genie in a bottle to grant all our wishes. We still have our responsibility to fulfil. My mother always said, "Don't pray when you're going on a trip for God to keep you safe on the road if you are knowingly driving with bald tyres." He might keep you safe, but it'll probably be for the sake of the innocent people you have travelling with you... then again, He might not.

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  5. So true, Lynne. God is not our butler, and He created us for His glory, not the other way around. And the testing and maturing of our faith is high on His agenda for us. It hurts, but it is worth it in the end. Thanks for sharing the example of your mother's wisdom too.

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  6. Sorry folks but I'm starting to think this whole God thing is a bunch of CRAP!
    My wife walked out on me after 15 years!!!!
    I prayed for God (you know, the God who "hates divorce)to heal my marriage....Didn't do it.
    I prayed for peace....Got none.
    I prayed for comfort...Didn't happen! (I thought the Holy Spirit was supposed to be the comforter)
    I prayed for wisdom...you guessed it...NADA!!!
    So now exactly what am I supposed to have faith in? Faith in knowing that when I need him most, he does nothing? And don't give me that "Footprints in the sand" garbage!!!
    I do believe there is a God...I just don't think he cares.

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    Replies
    1. My understanding is God always hears you and he may not answer in the way you expect nor may it always seem that he answers right away, But rather in the way you need which may take a long time. However, You must persevere. Healing is there for you if you look for it and accept it; "He who asks, Receives. He who seeks, Finds." Keep going.

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  7. With all due respect Peter, I don't think you addressed Anonymous' situation. You referenced yours but glossed over his tragic divorce and his bafflement as to why God would allow it. You may not have an answer for him but simply ignoring it and saying in effect that all we have to do is trust God may sound good but is cold comfort to the sufferer and does nothing to inspire faith in God.

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  8. Thank you for your feedback Anonymous, I have taken your comments to heart.
    God bless
    Peter

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