Let me brutally honest: when the poo hits the fan, trusting God becomes really hard.
I start to run all sorts of, “What if?” scenarios and calculations in my head. What if I can’t pay the bills? What if my kids don’t follow the Lord? What if these symptoms don’t go away? What if I have to deal with this fractured relationship for the rest of my life?
You get the point. Instead of trusting God who has promised to be faithful to me, I trust in my own ability to navigate the circumstances I’m facing.
Of course, this never ends well. I usually end up feeling really anxious, burdened, and like my own personal apocalypse is sure to happen.
So how can I learn to trust in God even when life is really hard and confusing? Here are five biblical strategies. Each one of these should be in my “trusting God” arsenal, ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice.
Trusting God Strategy #1: Lean Not On My Own Understanding
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “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.”
When I’m overwhelmed, burdened, and battered by life’s circumstances, I’m tempted to trust in myself rather than the Lord. The unfortunate reality is that sinful self-sufficiency is hardwired into me.
I’m tempted to believe that if I can devise the right strategy and make smart moves, I can get through life on my own. By my wit and grit.
Of course, this is utter nonsense. I’m not smart enough to navigate the dangerous shoals of life. I don’t have the strength or the wisdom to successfully weave through the minefields that I encounter.
Rather, God’s word calls me to trust in him with all my heart and
The simple reality is that I don’t know all the glorious things God is doing in and through my circumstances. I love how John Piper puts it:
God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them…Not only may you see a tiny fraction of what God is doing in your life; the part you do see may make no sense to you.
Things might not make sense to me, but God knows exactly what he’s doing. Trusting God starts with not leaning on my own understanding and trusting God with ALL my heart.
Trusting God Strategy #2: Run To The Throne of Grace
Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
What a sweet, sweet promise this is. I love how honest the Bible is. It clearly acknowledges that there will be times of need. There will be times when I’ll be brought low.
Feeling absolutely bewildered by everything going on around me.
Scripture never makes it seem like life is all roses and peanut butter cups. The Bible fully acknowledges that there are times when life just plain stinks.
And it also tells us exactly what to do in those times. When life is hard and circumstances are bewildering and trusting God seems impossible, I am to run to the throne of grace.
There I will find Jesus, ready to give me exactly what I need. He too endured hardship and heartbreak and suffering, and because of this, he can give me grace when I experience the same things.
When I’m struggling with trusting God, he invites me to run to him for sustaining grace.
Trusting God Strategy #3: Remember God’s Character
Lamentations 3:21-23 says, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
How do I grow in trusting God ? By actively calling to mind God’s faithful, steadfast character. This passage in particular encourages me to call three specific things to mind on a regular basis:
- The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
- The mercies of the Lord never come to end and are new every morning
- Great is God’s faithfulness
The glorious alchemy of God’s steadfastness, faithfulness, and constant mercy compel me to trust God. How could I not trust a God whose love for me is never fluctuating and always steadfast?
How could I doubt a God who has fresh mercies for me every morning?
How could I question a God who is unfailingly, unflaggingly faithful?
But here’s the thing. If I’m going to succeed in trusting God, I must actively, constantly call these truths about God to mind. It’s not enough to just know them, like I know that 2 + 2 = 4 and that kale tastes gross. I must engage my mind with these truths.
When I call to mind God’s character, I’m able to trust God even when things don’t make sense.
As Charles Spurgeon said:
Let us lean on God with all our weight. Let us throw ourselves on his faithfulness as we do on our beds, bringing all our weariness to his dear rest
Trusting God Strategy #4: Recall God’s Past Faithfulness
Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
This verse is a glorious reminder that God is absolutely unchanging. From everlasting to everlasting, he is God. He never shifts, never changes, never fluctuates.
Now, what does this have to do with trusting God?
If God never changes, and he has been faithful to me in the past, then I can be absolutely sure that he will be faithful to me in the future.
And God most certainly has been faithful to me in the past. He has sustained me through heartbreak, crippling anxiety, insufferable depression, overwhelming doubts, broken relationships, and a thousand other trials, toils, and snares. From the moment I was born, God has been faithful to me.
Because God never changes, his past faithfulness is a guarantee of future faithfulness. I can be sure that God will continue to sustain me, continue to uphold me, continue to shepherd me to green pastures.
I’m reminded of the verse in the song “He Will Hold Me Fast,” which says:
When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.
Yes, God has indeed held me fast, and he will continue to hold me fast. For this reason, trusting God in the midst of trials is truly possible.
Trusting God Strategy #5: Pray For Faith
Philippians 4:5-6 says, “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Ultimately, trusting God is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Even if I know all the truths above, the Holy Spirit must empower me to take hold of them by faith.
To believe them even when circumstances would say otherwise.
To not lean on my own understanding.
I need the Holy Spirit to move these glorious truths from my head to my heart. If that doesn’t happen, trusting God will be impossible for me.
And so I must consistently, constantly pray that God would enable me to trust him. That God would help me believe his promises and trust him even when life doesn’t make sense. That he would help me to wait patiently for him.
The simple, yet profound truth is that I can do nothing (including trust God) apart from God.
As Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him,
Yes, I am called to actively put my trust in God. I must work at trusting God. At the same time, God must empower me to obey. And so I pray and then I obey.
Trusting God Even When I Don’t Understand
In his outstanding book Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts Jerry Bridges says:
God’s plan and His ways of working out His plan are frequently beyond our ability to fathom and understand. We must learn to trust when we don’t understand.
To me, this seems to be at the heart of trusting God. The simple reality is that most of the time, I have only a very small grasp of what God is truly doing in my life.
And yet, because I know that he’s good and faithful and steadfast and ready to give me grace, I can trust him with my whole heart.
Or as Charles Spurgeon put it:
God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.