By Alexander Samuels
There are times when it seems as if life is too troublesome to bother with. Does that shock you? Quite frankly, there are some days in my life that are very painful. Sure, we all have our off days, but there are moments when I feel I have crossed into the catastrophe zone. There are moments when I reach out to grab something solid and all I grasp is empty air. They are moments without hope. And I am a Christian.
When all the pieces of perfectly pictured plans fall apart, the Christian doesn't just wonder what God is doing. There is a much deeper question, although it is consciously suppressed, that manages to rise above our faith. That question is . . . "Can I trust God?"
Now there are stories and circumstances in which people have suffered a great deal more than I have suffered. You have heard the testimonies of people who have endured much and give God the glory for meeting their needs during their time of hardship. They have made it through to the other side - at least for now. How will they respond when the serpent raises its ugly head again? Very honestly, I think we all ask, "Can I trust God?"
It is, perhaps, easier to try to obey God than it is to wait on His answers or His deliverance. We do not know the duration or frequency of the pain we must suffer. The circumstances seem so irrational and so undeserved, and we are Christians. Can we trust God?
In Psalm 9:10, David writes, "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." This does not mean "knowing about God." It acknowledges a personal relationship that develops through seeking God during hard times. In this relationship we discover that God is both sovereign and good. We discover that God's providential care is for His own glory and the good of His people.
Learning to trust God when times are tough is really accepting that just as God will allow nothing to diminish His glory, He will not allow the good that He is working out for His people to be subverted. ". . . He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. . . . 'For in Him we live and move and have our being . . .'" (Acts 17:25, 28). "Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen: He either permits it to happen, or He brings it about Himself" (Augustine). Our problem is that because God does not always act with the timing or in the manner that we expect, we think He cannot always be trusted with the details of our lives.
Suffering is a given. God has not promised us lives that do not include suffering from time to time. The believer, however, should react differently in his suffering than do unbelievers. We should be confident that our suffering is under the control of an omnipotent and loving God. Our pain has meaning and purpose in the eternal plan of God. Whatever comes into the Christian's life will be used for God's glory and our good.
In 1988, Nav Press published Trusting God, by Jerry Bridges, which is probably No. 2 on my list of favorites. I encourage all who, like me, from time to time have doubts and feel hope has fled to consider reading this book. In the words given to Jeremiah, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give hope and a future'" (Jeremiah 29:11). He has a plan for all of us. No one can stop or change God's plan. Because of this we can have hope and courage. We can trust God.
Alexander Samuels is a regular contributor to Carolina Christian Conservative.