“Trusting God in Suffering” November 16

 

Trusting God in SufferingWhen God asks you to trust Him in the difficult things: when He doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, when your child isn’t getting better, when the finances still seem impossible, when the doctor hands you a bad report … where will you go? Where will you find hope? What will you believe about God?

Trusting God makes all the difference in times of suffering. What can we learn about God that will steady us in tough times?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 23 & 24
Psalm 127.1-5
Proverbs 28.24
Hebrews 11.1-16

 

Trusting God in Suffering

 

Ezekiel 23 & 24:

Understanding Suffering

 

What if God called you to make the sacrifice that Ezekiel had to make—losing his wife and not even being allowed to grieve (24.15-18)? Could you trust God to give you the strength to do it? Or would you fall into self-pity or a “why me” attitude?

How would you respond if the child you raised to love God becomes a prodigal, throwing aside everything you believe? Would you still trust God?

What if the doctor handed you a bad report? Or your child didn’t get better? Would you still believe that God is good?

What if you or your spouse lost a job or your savings or your retirement plan? Would you still be able to trust Him to meet your needs?

I know for some of you these questions aren’t hypothetical, they are reality. The truth is suffering is a part of life in this fallen world. Someone has said that we’re either in the midst of trial, coming out of one, or getting ready to go into one.

They may vary in degree and some may be easier to handle than others, but we all suffer.

When God asks you to trust Him in the difficult things: when He doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, when your child isn’t getting better, when the finances still seem impossible, when the doctor hands you a bad report … where will you go? Where will you find hope? What will you believe about God?

Could you say with the psalmist, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me” (Ps. 119.75)?

 

How to Grow in Trust

 

It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know.

When your toddler jumps into your arms in the swimming pool for the first time, he doesn’t trust his ability to swim, he trusts you because he knows you. When your doctor says she needs to do surgery, you’ll either trust her diagnosis, or you’ll get another opinion.

A toddler learns to trust his parents because of his experience with them. You may come to trust your doctor because of her care and knowledge in other situations or because someone you know recommended her. But somehow we must have knowledge of a person if we’re to trust in them.

We trust God first by faith. We make the choice to believe His Word and to respond to His wooing, but we walk it out by coming to know Him through His Word.

 

What can we know about God that will steady us in trials and suffering? 

 

bible-reading-couch

We can know His character by coming to understand His various attributes.

God is love (1 Jn. 4.8). It’s not that He merely does loving things, He is love. Love seeks the good of the person loved. His love is perfect and unselfish. He loves us so much that He was willing to suffer and die in our place (Jn. 3.16). Even in hardship God is working for our good (Rom. 8.28; Gen. 50.20).

Joseph told the brothers who had sinned against him in such horrible ways:

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50.20).

Charles Ryrie says, “Love consists of affection and also of correction. Babies are cuddled and corrected, and both are true expressions of parental love.”

Even when God disciplines His children, it’s because of His love:

“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12.6).

God is good (Ps. 73.1). Like love, good isn’t something He does, it is His very essence.

He is, also, merciful and faithful. His is patient and forgiving, righteous and just. He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (always with us), omnipotent (all-powerful) and He never changes. And that’s just the beginning of His attributes.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2.4-6)

We can never fully know God, but He has revealed much through His creation, through His acts, and, especially, through His Word. Coming to know Him will allow us to trust Him even in suffering.

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29.29).

 

Resources for Knowing God

 

Knowing GodThere are numerous resources which can help us come to know Him, to know His attributes, and to better understand how God works in and through suffering. A friend told me her life and perspective changed when she read Trusting God by Jerry Bridges as a young widow. I’ve seen numerous people helped by reading It’s Not Fair! by Wayne Mack. Both talk about the attributes of God and help us know Him better. And A.W. Pink’s classic The Attributes of God is a little gem.

You can also use Bible Gateway or another concordance to look up the attributes of God and study them out for yourself. There is no substitute for your personal interaction with God’s Word when it comes to knowing Him more.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 127.1-5:

The Rock: Doing, Not Just Hearing

 

Verse 1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who built it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”

On what foundation is your house, your life, your marriage, your family being built?

Matthew 7.24-27 says:

24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Notice it’s not the one who hears or knows the Word who builds his life on the rock; it’s the one who hears and “does it.”

James 1.22-25 says:

22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (NLT)

thumbs upThere are many who have gone to church, even attended Bible studies, for years. They may have a lot of head knowledge of God, but if they are not living it daily, they can be fooled into thinking they’re OK with God. What they might be doing or not doing is no big deal, things everyone does …

But a house that is not built on a solid foundation is headed for trouble when the storms of life come.

 

Proverbs 28.24:

No Big Deal!

 

“Whoever robs his father or his mother, and says, ‘It is no transgression,’ the same is companion to a destroyer.”

It’s bad enough that someone would steal, but to steal from his or her own parents and then think, “It’s no big deal!”

 

Hebrews 11.1-16:

Faith—a Solidly Grounded Certainty

 

Faith

I like Jay Adams translation of verse 1:

“Now faith is a solidly grounded certainty about what we hope for, a conviction about the reality of things we don’t see.”

And verse 6 says that without that “solidly grounded certainty,” it is impossible to please God!

Is your faith and trust in God a “solidly grounded certainty”?

Blessings,
Donna

 

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