I’ve been thinking of the words to a hymn: “Trust and obey / For there’s no other way / To be happy in Jesus / But to trust and obey.” Christians should be happy, but the song tells us that we can’t be unless we trust and obey. I’ve been working on the trust part of this, as I read Jerry Bridges’ book Trusting God. I haven’t finished it, yet, but I want everyone I know to read it. I wish I had read it sooner. The front cover reads, Trusting God: Even when life hurts. The subtitle made me assume it was a book about facing trials, so it never seemed the right time to read it. I happened to grab it recently, after rereading one of Bridges other books. To some degree, it is about trials, but it’s much broader than that. If I had been the publisher, the title would have been, Trusting God: No matter what life brings. I’m afraid people who could have learned from this book may have passed it up.
The steps of a man are established by the LORD,Psalms 37:23-24
when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.
What I have read so far, has been Bridges’ case for why we can trust God. He has really challenged my thinking. I am not learning something new, but rather, I am being taught to apply what I know in new ways. His thesis in this section is that God is trustworthy because He is absolutely sovereign. From the Scriptures, Bridges made a case showing God’s sovereignty over circumstances, people, governments, and even viruses! In the second chapter, as Bridges defined for the reader God’s providence, he wrote, “Nothing, not even the smallest virus, escapes [God’s] care and control.” I immediately flipped to the front pages of the book to get the copyright date: 1988. The author intended to express God’s control over the smallest living cells, and he didn’t live to see the words take on new meaning. But God knew when the words were written, that more than thirty years later, the COVID19 virus would hold the world hostage. And we need to remember: even if humans altered the virus, God was in control. And even if humans spread the virus on purpose, God controlled the spread.
Our human minds cannot understand how God can be sovereign while man has free will, but we cannot use man’s responsibility for his actions as a limitation on God’s control over all things. Trusting God fully means that we trust Him with the fate of our nation and world, and we trust Him with the course of our individual lives. Too often, as I lie in bed at night, my mind returns to the mistakes of my past. I have written before about my fear that I ruined my life with bad choices, when I was young. But when I look back, there were times when He kept me from sin or spared me the consequences of my actions, and other times He allowed events to impact my life. While I am ultimately responsible for my actions, I must remember that God in His sovereignty is orchestrating His plan for my life. The Casting Crowns song, Just Be Held, expresses this idea well when it states from God’s perspective, “Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.”
But I trust in you, O LORD;Psalms 31:14-15
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Last weekend, I was reading in 2 Samuel the infamous account of David’s great sin. It began with lust turned to adultery and culminated in premeditated murder. God took away the child that was born of the adultery. Yet, the second son that Bathsheba bore to David was Solomon, and God chose that child to be king. It is recorded in 2 Samuel 12:24, “. . .she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the LORD loved him.” How can it be that David’s sin, that so displeased God, in time led to the birth of the heir to the throne, whom God showed special favor to? Was his mother not taken in marriage after the murder of her first husband? Why would God choose to bring the heir to the throne of Israel from that union? David had other wives where there was a lot less “baggage,” and he had many sons. But God does not look upon our lives the way we do. He is weaving a tapestry of our lives where our sins and mistakes are redeemed into brilliant colors and a vivid portrait of His grace and sovereignty. And just as Solomon became a great king who influenced the world, God’s plan for each of us is woven into His plan for the World, which was written before creation, for His glory.
There is no formula to help us trust God. Yesterday, I received an unexpected text from a dear friend, informing me that her mother had just passed away. If I had a formula, I would know exactly what to say. But the reality is that we will all face times when “life hurts.” The best thing we can do to prepare ourselves is to work to trust God every day, in every season. Some of us are more apt to trust Him in the little things in life and others trust Him more with the course of world history than with their day to day. We shouldn’t separate these things out. If God is sovereign, He controls it all. If anything is outside of His control, then He ceases to be the God He says He is. I believe what He has revealed to me in Scripture. I have determined to trust Him, and desire to trust Him more and more.