If I could give you tool kit and you could design your own God; a real God, mind you with all the God-like qualities, what kind of God would you put together? Would He look like the one found in the Bible? Be honest. I’ll bet He wouldn’t. Aren’t there at least a few biblical statements about God which are hard for you to swallow? Or perhaps some ways He interacts or doesn’t interact with you in your life that you’d change? If your answer is “No”, then you’re either exceedingly rare or not much of a thinker. As C.S. Lewis once said, the God of Scripture is one whom we, as human beings, would never think up on our own. I myself have certain questions about God which I wrestle with. I’ve discussed some of them in these columns. Let’s face it, from a certain human point of view God seems weird. In some ways, He’s very “other”. And He doesn’t always go out of His way to make things easy to understand, either.
This is a fact that we have to come to terms with if we’re to have a deep love relationship with God built on serious trust. If everything has to properly line up in our minds first, then we’ll do what many have done – walk away from Him and build our lives around someone or something else. Or, at the very least, in order to hedge our bets, we’ll trust Him for salvation, but then live for Him grudgingly.
The problem is, ignoring God or following Him resentfully, are poor alternatives. God expects more from us. He wants us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart…(Matt. 22:37) and to “trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Prov. 3:5). He wants us totally resting in Him. Yet we may still struggle to completely trust God. It’s hard to do.
Why is hard to completely trust God?
1. It’s hard to completely trust God because of what He allows
This accompanies a wide range of life-situations, from personal ones to what’s going on around us in the world. I heard recently of a baby shaken to death by his mom’s boyfriend. We lose our job when we desperately need the money. Many live in squalor, hunger and oppression. Hurricanes roar through. Or life just hurts.
2. Lt’s hard to completely trust God because He’s hidden
I know, we have the Bible, the Holy Spirit, Christian friends, and so on. But the Spirit tends to whisper when He speaks directly at all, at least to me. And the Bible can penetrate, but it’s just not like seeing a living person and hearing His voice directly. I want Him to move past my mind and sit in the seat across from me. Don’t you?
3. It’s hard to trust completely trust God because it’s hard to see how the prayer thing works
I discussed this in another column. In Scripture God seems to promise that He’ll give us whatever we ask for, unless we’re asking for crazy or unspiritual stuff. But the correlation between what we ask for and what He does is often hard to find. To be blunt, much of what we pray for, even when it’s good, doesn’t happen.
4. It’s hard to completely trust God because He has a harsh side
God hates sin. God punishes sin. His punishment, for those who reject salvation, and then die, is eternal hell. What a contrast. The same Being who sent His own Son to die on the cross to save us, also sends unsaved people to unending suffering. From a human point of view this is an extremely harsh sentence. And it’s done by our “Daddy”.
5. It’s hard to trust God because we often don’t see obvious spiritual victories
Paul tells us, in Galatians 6:9 not to “become weary in doing good”. Have you ever become weary? A few people see stupendous results in their ministry, but many of us serve without making much of a clear dent. Not many receive Christ through our ministry. Not many seem deeply touched or inspired by Christ in us. We face our share of criticism. Have you ever asked: “What am I accomplishing?” There’s usually something, but it’s normally slow and subtle at best.
I hope I haven’t made it worse for you in stating these observations, but you’ve probably already thought them at one time or another. God hasn’t made it easy for us to put our full trust in Him. Yet He expects us to. And that is my goal, despite its challenges.
How can I develop a deepening trust in God?
1. I develop a deepening trust in God by an act of my will
Here it comes again – the “will thing”. If our trust in God is based on our emotions or circumstances, it will be haphazard at best. We must consciously choose to trust God even when it seems crazy. This isn’t based on wishful thinking. It’s based on reality. Which leads to the next point.
2. I develop a deepening trust in God based on His promises
The Bible makes it clear that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him”(Rom.8:28) Scripture is packed with promises like this. Are they true or are they lies? Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man that he should lie. . .” We have to decide if we buy all this. But what happens when reality and God’s promises seem to contradict each other?
3. I develop a deepening trust in God based on His judgment of what’s best
This is the heart of the matter. A lot of times, we have our own agenda firmly in mind when we choose to trust – “God, you’ll get my that job!” “God, you’ll heal me.” “God, you’ll give me . . . fill in the blank”. The problem is that God hasn’t signed off on our agenda. Often, He has something far more valuable in mind, like developing in us the character of Christ, for example. His own Son went to the cross for us instead of escaping his enemies. God’s main goal for us, right now, isn’t to create heaven on earth, it’s to create heaven in us.
4. I develop a deepening trust in God by persistence in practice
Over time, if we’re committed to trusting God through thick and thin, certain patterns begin to emerge. We learn that He gives us the grace to survive. We realize that we’ve grown wiser and deeper. We perceive that lots of issues really aren’t as important as they seem. Much of this is only clear in retrospect.
5. I develop a deepening trust in God by taking the long view
Peter says “set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1;13)). While there are plenty of blessings in this life, the best, by far are yet to come. Heaven’s richness will blow this life away.
6. I develop a deepening trust in God by the help of the Holy Spirit
I always come back to this. Only the Spirit can do the deep spiritual rewiring that changes our perspectives into His perspectives. Ask Him constantly for help.