Excerpted from Why Can’t We Trust God?
Love the LORD Your GOD
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).”
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (Deuteronomy 6:4, KJV).”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).” I sit in my living room each day and watch the news, reeling as the wheels seem to have come off this crazy world of ours. There for a while, every time I tuned in to one of the 24-hour news channels, anchors expounded upon the devastation of Christians in the Middle East. Heads were removed, families burned alive, and children crucified for refusing to denounce their trust in Jesus.
Trust in the Lord in times of trouble
Entire generations of Christians are devastated, and whole communities vanished in the mayhem. In Iran and Turkey, the Christian has almost disappeared (Griswold, 2015). The population of believers in Iraq is less than half of what it was in the 1970’s, dropping from 4% of the people to less than 1% (Tristam, 2017). In Egypt, home of the largest Christian population in the Middle East, and in other nations, churches are regularly attacked and destroyed, and female Christians are forced into sexual slavery (Sherwood, 2018). And, to make it easier to identify and persecute Christians in Egypt, one’s religious affiliation is stated on the State ID (Sherwood, 2018). And yet, Christians in the Middle East hold fast to their trust in God.
In many countries, we enjoy the freedom to worship according to our own conscience. We don’t suffer the same persecution as our brothers and sisters in the Middle Eastern countries. Yes, some believers do suffer abuse in the courts and are devastated financially and emotionally by a legal system that is drifting from the roots of the constitution. And these faithful believers, too, hold steadfast to their faith.
Trust in the Lord in the face of evil
It is hard to watch the news and even harder to explain God’s love to friends, coworkers, and family members as they too suffer through another news day of mayhem and pain. And yet, we know that God is good, that he loves us and cherishes our love for him. Suffering is, and for some populations always was, a way of life, and yet the passion these people show for Jesus is unwavering.
In this book we are going to explore what it means to trust in Jesus, and to trust in our God––who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As we broach this subject, we will dig into concepts of suffering as they are presented in the Bible and in issues of trust as they are described in current academic research. Combining the two elements of academia and faith may provide for us a picture by which we may choose to trust in Jesus, God’s only son.
God, in his unwavering love for us, developed his story over several thousand years. In God’s own unchanging and all-knowing way, he painted for us a cohesive, concise, and accurate picture of life on this Earth. God illustrates an experience that he knew would be painful, but ultimately a rewarding one that will point us toward him through the suffering. God’s Word tells us of Four Sorrows we face in life, and yet through perseverance, we will overcome. These Four Sorrows are Life in a Fallen World, Pain Due to Our Sin, God’s Pruning, and The Hate of the World––directed toward us when we live for Jesus. All are designed to point us toward God.
We live in a fallen world. Life on Earth is tainted by the sin of God’s children. This truth is the beginning point of pain and suffering and ultimately the beginning of our understanding of God’s love and faithfulness. Through illness, aging, and our own mortality, we may learn of God’s unwavering desire for a relationship with us so that we may know him better.
In our desire for self-fulfillment and sin, we build walls between God and us, behind which we hide and cower, knowing ultimately that God still sees us. Sin separates us from God’s love. Yet we can, and do, learn about ourselves and our need and ability to turn to Jesus with hope. Before Jesus, each of us brings a personality hampered by our sin, but one that may strengthen our resolve to trust through grace.
Jesus, who is our mediator, stood before God in our place to take punishment for our sins. As we come closer to God and his son, we become his. And as his, God’s own child, we suffer under God’s loving hand––just as a child suffers when they are spanked and sent to their rooms to think about what they did. Jesus says God prunes the branches, forcing growth and the production of healthy fruit. Pruning hurts, but is ultimately good for the vine. Through the process of pruning, we learn about God’s grace and love. We also begin to understand that God is trustworthy.
Trust in the Lord like a child trusts a parent
Ultimately, we are God’s children through our acceptance and love for his son, Jesus. But, as we draw closer to Jesus and choose to trust in him, the world turns against us. Jesus told us that the world will hate those who choose to love him––and hate hurts.
Stay with me. As we progress through this discussion, we will learn together how the three bases of trust form our ability to choose to trust. These bases are personality, cognition, and institutional trust. We can then understand how to trust our Lord Jesus for mediation and forgiveness, God’s Holy Spirit for guidance, and God the Father for redemption and eternal grace.