Do you trust God? I know, it’s a hard question. Depending on where you are in your faith journey, your answer to this question may fluctuate. You know you ought to trust in God and some days, you don’t hesitate to say yes when this question is asked.
But other times?
It’s hard. It’s hard to trust God when it seems as if your world is falling apart. So let’s work through it together and see if we can answer the question of how to trust God when bad things happen.
What Does It Mean to Trust in God?
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It’s a hard thing to define, isn’t it? We know what it means to trust someone or to put our trust in something, but it gets a little hard to pin down when we’re talking about God. So, let’s go back to basics.
What does it mean to trust?
The Oxford Dictionary defines trust as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.
In other words, we believe the thing or person will do what we expect them to do. We have faith in its ability to fulfill the thing we’re believing in them for. We believe because they have proven to be reliable. We trust because we know they tell the truth.
Now let’s apply our knowledge of the word trust to God. If the question, can we trust God was asked, what would be your answer? Don’t answer me just yet, remember we’re working through our definition of trust. So let’s ask a few more questions:
- Can we trust in God’s ability to accomplish what it is we’re hoping He will?
- Has He proven that He is reliable?
- Does God speak the truth?
When we look at it in these terms it seems simple, doesn’t it? So why don’t we trust God?
Why we struggle to trust God
Why do we struggle to trust God? Please understand that I don’t know your present situation. But in my experience, people usually struggle to trust God for one of the following reasons:
- Other people have let them down and so they find it hard to trust Someone they can’t see
- They believe that God has let them down in the past. This usually happens because they think God did not answer a prayer or they felt God was absent at a critical point in their life.
- They don’t fully understand who God is. There are, in a lot of ways (in our minds at least), parallels between God and Santa Claus. Folklore has convinced us that there’s a “big guy in the sky” whose sole purpose is to answer prayers and grant us our wishes. And while God does answer our prayers, His purpose is greater than simply fulfilling our wish list.
The strange thing is that when we don’t trust God, life gets infinitely harder. We worry more and try to depend on ourselves and others. Because people will let us down, we remain in a cycle of trusting in people who disappoint us.
How to Trust God
Let’s be honest, trusting God is hard. But it’s not hard because God is untrustworthy, it’s hard because we are. Before you click away from this blog post, let me explain. I’m guessing you have put your trust in someone who let you down, you depended on them and expected them to come through and they didn’t. I know I have. We expect God to behave like the people in our lives. After all, some of these people who have let us down claim to love us. So why shouldn’t God let us down as well?
Oh my sweet friend, if that thought has crossed your mind I’m so sorry you have been hurt. But let me remind you that God is not like us. His ways are far superior to ours. God will never let us down. God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19).
Now I know that there have been things in your life that make you think that He’s already let you down. Maybe you prayed for something and God didn’t answer your prayer the way you expected Him to. I know how that feels. It hurts. But I maintain that we can still trust God and here’s why:
God is working things out with our eternal salvation in mind.
When we feel as though we can’t trust God, that’s a great thing to remember. God is not just looking at the next five minutes or the next short-term period of time, He’s looking at the events in our lives in terms of how we can be made stronger, how our hearts can be drawn closer to Him, how He can save us from our sins for all eternity.
What happens when we don’t trust God?
As Christians, we know we ought to trust God but when bad things happen, it becomes almost impossible. It’s easier to rely on ourselves or even on things or people we can see. But when we fail to trust in God, bad things happen. Our faith weakens and we’re not able to see our way out of situations that are a no-brainer for God.
I think one of the best biblical illustrations of what happens when we don’t put our trust in God is the story of the Israelites on the verge of entering the Promised Land.
We read their story Numbers 13-14. After leaving Egypt, the Israelites had spent about a year in the wilderness in God University. They had learned what it meant to worship God and had an in-depth list of what was allowed and what wasn’t. Now, it was time for them to move into their new home.
Under God’s direction, Moses selected 12 men to spy out the land of Canaan. They were to make a full report of the lay of the land, as well as, the vegetation and various crops the land had to offer. They went into the land and it was a fruitful land indeed. Two of the men (Caleb and Joshua) believed they would be able to overpower the inhabitants of the land with the Lord’s help, but the other ten were negative.
They focused on the strength of their enemies instead of the power of their God. In other words, they failed to trust God. Their lack of trust caused the children of Israel to say these words,
“If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2-3 NIV)
My friend, isn’t that just like us? When we start distrusting God, we forget what He has brought us through and how He has rescued us. We become like ungrateful children whining about what we don’t have and failing to be grateful for what we do.
Because of their lack of trust in God, the Israelites spent the next 40 years wandering around in the wilderness when they were just a few days away from the land God had promised them.
When we don’t trust God, we lose out on our blessing. We live lives that are unnecessarily hard and experience things God never wanted us to.
What Does the Bible Say About Trusting God?
As you can imagine, the Bible has a lot to say about the importance of trusting God. While there are explicit statements like some of the verses I’ve quoted below, you only need to read the Bible with a discerning eye to see that mankind is fallible while God is not. If we can trust in human beings who fail and are prone to sin, we can trust in God as well.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV).
I’m sure you know someone who knows everything. This person goes about doing what they believe is right and often make their lives more difficult than it needs to be. That person is us when we put our trust in mankind or our own abilities instead of in the Lord. When we trust in ourselves, we will be led astray. But when we trust God who knows all things, we can believe that He will work things out with our eternal destiny in mind.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8 ESV).
We can trust Christ because He never changes. He doesn’t go back on His word, He doesn’t say what He doesn’t mean. And the same God who created the universe and put a plan of salvation in place is the same God we worship now.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act (Psalm 37:5 ESV).
When we trust in God and are committed to Him, He acts on our behalf. This doesn’t mean that He gives us everything we ask for regardless of the impact it will have on our lives, but like a good Father, He gives us everything we need.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you (Psalm 56:3 ESV).
When fear has our insides tied up in knots, we can trust our Savior. He knows what tomorrow holds and what’s on the other side of our fear so when we believe in Him, He will see us through our hard times.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man (Psalm 118:8 ESV).
People will always let us down but we can trust God to be faithful. We know that even when things don’t work out as we want them to, God is able to redeem them to bring us closer to Him and bring glory to His name (Romans 8:28).
How to Trust God in Difficult Times
I wish I could tell you that I always trust God when things get hard. I don’t. But I’m learning how to by taking cues from my favorite Bible characters. I know when people think about Bible characters who trusted God when things got rough there are a few names that come up often: Job, David, Paul, or one of the prophets. But let’s see what we can learn from some minor characters in the Bible.
Key #1: Exercise your faith
So let’s look at a more obscure character like the widow from Zarephath. Her story is told in 1 Kings 17:7-16 and is intertwined with the story of Elijah.
When the prophet met her, she was gathering sticks so she could make one last meal for herself and her son. She did not need a man to show up requesting her meager bit of resources. I can imagine that when Elijah told her to make a cake for him before she made one for herself or her son, it took a measure of faith.
She had to trust that God would be faithful to the promise He had expressed through Elijah, ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land’ (1 Kings 17:14 NIV).
Before she could experience the promise of God, she had to exercise her faith. When was the last time you put your faith in practice, friend?
Key #2: Pray when things get hard
Remember Hannah? She was the barren wife of Elkanah. When her husband’s other wife Peninnah provoked her, she took her concern to the Lord. She poured out her heart before God. Though she suffered at the hand of Eli the priest, she had to believe that God would be faithful (1 Samuel 1).
I like to think that Hannah found peace in the presence of the Lord even before Eli approached her. If you really think about it, Eli had no way of knowing God would answer her prayers any more than Hannah did. All he could do was express his hope in God’s faithfulness.
“Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him” (1 Samuel 1:17 NIV).
But Hannah’s whole demeanor changed after her prayer. She was able to eat when before she had been too distraught and her whole countenance changed (1 Samuel 1:18). Prayer changes us even when we don’t get what we asked God for.
Key #3: Remember God is faithful
Let’s go back to the story of the children of Israel. After 40 years of aimless wandering, they entered the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua, Moses’ right-hand man. As Joshua divided the land among the tribes of Israel, the Bible has these words to say,
Not a single one of all the good promises the LORD had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came true (Joshua 21:45 NLT).
God is faithful. We can trust Him to keep His word. There are so many stories of trusting God in the Bible I’m sure you can find a few that resonate with you. I encourage you to meditate on these stories when your faith in God runs low or you need a reason to trust Him.
Another great way to increase your faith in God is to read stories with characters who model what it means to be faithful. The main character in Spies & Sweethearts, Emily Strealer, did this for me.
Spies and Sweethearts Review
When I started reading Linda Shenton Matchett’s Spies & Sweethearts, I did not like the main characters. The heroine seemed extra-sensitive and the hero was a jerk, but I kept going because I had liked the premise and then, oh my word! The next thing I knew it was past my bedtime and I did not want to put this book down.
While Emily remained sensitive to certain things, you grew to love her as you understood more of her background. Gerard had his jerkish moments but the way he took care of Emily showed a maturity that he had lacked in the opening scenes. The man who had been prone to roguish behavior grew up and learned to think about other people and not just himself.
What I loved about this book was the theme of trusting God. Emily had a strong faith that eventually reignited Gerard’s faith. But more interestingly, it reminded me that God is never more than a prayer away. He sees the things we don’t and He can make a way out of any situation for His children.
Know God–do you trust God? Emily did. And her character reminds us that God is trustworthy. Because of her trust in God, she was able to call on Him for help and believe He would answer whether she was at home or miles away in a foreign country.
Know yourself–when we first meet Emily she’s timid and hypersensitive to criticism but as the book goes on she learns more about herself. She learns her strengths and weaknesses and that she is capable of so much more than she initially thought.
Maybe you need to do an inventory of your life to see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Don’t lambaste yourself for your perceived flaws but remember that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness.
Run your race–at the beginning of the novel Emily is living under the shadow of expectations she cannot meet. She could not meet them because they were not hers–they didn’t suit her personality. But once she found a place where she could explore new things (things she liked that maybe her family wouldn’t have understood) she began doing what she needed to do.
Our families may have expectations for us, they may expect us to act this person or another but ultimately each of us has to find our own path and do the thing we were created to do.
I enjoyed reading Spies and Sweethearts. It was filled with action, drama, and a hint of romance. It reminded us that even in the worst situations there will be people willing to help even at great cost to themselves. But more importantly, we can trust God who is always there to help us.
I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publishers through Celebrate Lit; a positive review was not required. Get your copy of Spies & Sweethearts.
About Spies & Sweethearts: A Christian WWII Romance (Sisters in Service Book 1)
Series: Sisters in Service
Publication Date: April 15, 2020
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Print Length: 248 pages
They’re highly-trained spies, but nothing in the manual prepared them for falling in love.
According to the OSS training manual, the life-expectancy of a radio operator in Nazi-occupied France is six weeks. Partnered with one of the agency’s top spies, Gerard Lucas, newly-minted agent Emily Strealer plans to beat those odds.
Then their cover is blown and all bets are off. The border to neutral Switzerland is three hundred miles away–a long way to run with SS soldiers on their heels—will Emily and Gerard survive the journey and get home?
Spies & Sweethearts is a Christian historic romance.
Linda Shenton Matchett
Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. She writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. Her books are regularly praised for their accuracy and realism. A volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII, Linda is also a lecturer with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute through Granite State College.
She was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, and has lived in historic places all her life. Now located in central New Hampshire, Linda’s favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.
Her blog, History, Mystery, & Faith, contains posts on little known facts about WWII, information about writers from the Golden Age of mystery writers (1930s and 1940s), author interviews, and adventures in research. Visit her at www.LindaShentonMatchett.com.
More from Linda
Take a moment to travel back to an era when ordinary women did extraordinary things. After the attack at Pearl Harbor, stalwart American gals stepped out of their comfort zone to take jobs never before held by women…sometimes dangerous jobs. Jobs in which they could lose their lives.
As a docent at the Wright Museum of WWII, I meet people from all walks of life who lived and served during the second “war to end all wars.” Many of these people haven’t shared their stories with loved ones for myriad reasons, but when they arrive at the museum, the floodgates of memories open, and words begin to pour out.
I’ve listened as ladies shared the stress of working outside the home, and juggling finances and childcare issues while their husbands were away in the armed forces. I’ve heard some speak about the excitement of learning new skills and gaining confidence. However, others were not as forthcoming because what they did was not only perilous but secret. Fortunately, in the last few years, documents have been declassified to shed light on the undercover work and projects performed during the war.
It is my hope that Spies & Sweethearts, book one in my Sisters in Service trilogy, will honor these brave women in some small way.
Linda Shenton Matchett
Why We Should Trust in God
Trusting God in all circumstances may seem like the most difficult thing you have been asked to do, but it starts with one thing: let go of what you know (or what you think you know) and believe that God is faithful.
We can increase our faith in God when we spend time in prayer, exercise our faith, and remember that God is faithful. Our Heavenly Father loves us and He’s a good father, won’t you trust Him today?
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7 ESV).
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