Trusting God in Trying Times

Whenever crisis hits our lives, one of the first questions we ask is, “Why is this happening to me?”, or more boldly, “Why is God doing this to me?” This question, without a doubt, is asked by every human being on the face of the planet. It is a common question that rises out of the common association of being alive. No one is immune to problems. All we can do is try to lessen their impact on our lives. While these questions are legitimate and normative, I believe the posture of our heart will determine how we cope with the challenges of life.

Those who don’t trust in Christ will naturally rely on themselves and the tangible things of this world to ease the pains of life. The problem with this is that those tangible things are all temporary and are not guaranteed. You don’t have to be a Christian to see this. When these so-called supports—fortune, fame, friends, and family—fail, what are we really left with? Tragically, some who are well-endowed with natural abilities and resources are some of the most unfulfilled people in the world! In the end, the idea of self-reliance doesn’t correspond to reality—it’s a lie. 

Christians, on the other hand, do not draw their power from within ourselves. Our true support system does not depend on our fortune, fame, friends, or family. We draw our power from a perpetual source, which is Jesus Christ. Therefore, when Christians ask the question, “Why is God doing this to me ?”,  it must be asked from the right heart position and perspective. Again, this is a normal question, but we must make sure we understand our trials from God’s perspective. 

If you are going through some challenges right now, and find yourself asking this question, I want to challenge your thinking from the Word of God.

  1. We are not the center of God’s universe. God is the center of His universe. God has manifest Himself in Jesus Christ. The Scriptures say that Christ took the lowest position when He came to earth and that it was God who raised Him from the dead to give Him a name above every name. Therefore God, as manifested in the person of Jesus Christ, is the center of the universe. Everything was made by Him and for Him. It is through and in His name that we pray to the Father. It is through Jesus Christ that we have eternal life. One of the great truths we affirm is that, it is by grace alone that we are saved, not by works. Our salvation is a product of God’s free grace and our willing acceptance. Once we receive this, we become slaves of righteousness and are, therefore, under the rulership and authority of Jesus Christ. He is our Lord and we are subject to His commands. In very simple terms, the Lord has not set His eternal watch according to our timetable, nor does He seek our counsel on the governance of eternal affairs. He is not swayed by our emotionalism; He does things according to His own pleasure and according to His perfect timing. This is hard stuff, yes, but it is the truth according to God’s Word. However, the secret to peace that surpasses all understanding is to align our wills with the Lord’s.  We are at the center of God’s universe so long as we are equally clothed in righteousness provided by Jesus’ death on the cross, and we reflect Him (striving towards His likeness) in every aspect of our lives. But, by ourselves, we are nothing. (See John 1, Phil 2, Col 3, Eph 2.8, Rom 6.15-23)
  2. God Works for the Good of those who Love Him. The Apostle Peter answers the question of suffering in his first letter, stating that it is a part of life that no one escapes here on earth. However, we have to make a decision on how we want to suffer. Do we want to suffer for good or for bad? It is important to note that suffering is a natural part of sin entering the world through Adam. We experience the result of fallen man even if we didn’t do anything wrong. The drunk driver, the mass murderer, the adulterer and the embezzler affect not only themselves, but those around them. Their sins may lead to, in some cases, unintended deaths. Then there is also our own sinfulness and lack of adherence to God’s Word that brings upon suffering in our personal lives.  Equally, the notion that “if you love Jesus your life is going to be without problems”, is a foreign concept to the Scriptures. In fact, those who served the Lord most fiercely were the ones most persecuted. Admittedly, from a human perspective, it is difficult to see how God is going to get us out of a situation when we are in the middle of it. This is where we have to, if necessary, force ourselves to open the Word of God and read the stories of those who faced impossible circumstances, and be reminded that even in our darkest moments God is working things out for us. I say force because, even the faith of the most well-worn, knowledgable believer can be shaken, leaving them wondering whether God will deliver them from their latest trial. For some, this can produce a depressive mindset of, “What’s the use? I have read these stories over and over again.” We must read them again and again because, invariably, something will jump from the page that will breathe new life into us and encourage us to press on through our circumstances. God is faithful and He knows what He is doing. Scripture is the greatest reminder that God is in control of His creation. So, it may seem strange to us that we are going through these trials, but God has a specific purpose for them. In fact, because He works all things for the good of those who love Him, we should count it as joy.  (See 1 Peter 3.17, Rom 5.12, Rom 6.23, Rom 1.18, 1 Peter 5.7, Rom. 15.4)
  3. Suffering, trials, tribulation, and hardships all give us an opportunity to identify with Christ. If we truly want to identify with Christ, then we must be willing to endure suffering of all kinds. Instead of us asking, “Why is God doing this to me?”, the better questions are “What does God want to teach me about Himself in this situation? How does God want me to grow in likeness to His Son? What opportunities is He opening up for me through my trials that I may be a witness to the power of Jesus Christ?” These are the better questions. All suffering, if we embrace it for what it is, will increase our faith. Therefore, we should not consider these things strange, for God is remaking us, reforming us in the image of His Son. I dare say that all the Lord really cares about is that we place our trust in Him every step of the way. Jesus wants a relationship with us and I am convinced that if we are truly His children, He will strip away everything that hinders us from deepening that relationship. He will remove all idols from our life. He will even reveal to us areas of our lives, that we considered strengths, to be our very weakness forcing us to place our total trust in Him. God wants us to be as little children, trusting in Him, depending on Him as a child would to a parent. We depend on our Father for protection, for sustenance, and for nurturing. As we struggle with the sin outside us and that within, a good Father recognizes this struggle and may have to protect us from destroying ourselves. This no doubt is what our heavenly Father does.

These three points are by no means meant to be exhaustive, but I want to provide a springboard to investigate God’s Word on your own and discover the God who does have a plan for your life in the midst of trying times. What should become clear is that God wants to reveal to you that Jesus is at the center of His plan. As you align your will to His, and see your life as an active part of bringing glory to His kingdom, you will find peace in the middle of your trials.

Are you one of God’s children? Have you placed your trust completely in the Lord? If not, your life is about to collapse around you. Stop fooling yourself! You cannot handle these trials on your own. Give your life to Jesus and He will bring meaning and purpose to your trials. 

For those who know Jesus, but have not made Him Lord over every aspect of your life, recommit today and watch what God does through you for His kingdom in your weakest moments. 

For those seasoned, hardened believers in Christ, younger believers are watching you. Their faith will be affected by yours. Your continued faith in Christ, in the midst of trials, will be a stabilizing force when they don’t understand what’s going on around them. Therefore, I offer this encouragement to you to stay on the road,“So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.” - Hebrews 12.12-13

Be encouraged today. God will see you through!