Trusting God: 5 Biblical Strategies For When Life Is Hard

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 to not lean one iota on my own understanding. When I’m tempted to fear and doubt and worry, God calls me to jettison my own understanding of the situation and trust him entirely.

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.

Brokenhearted.

In tears.

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 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?

Simply this…

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, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

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

Helpful Resource:

Trusting God
Jerry Bridges - NavPress - Kindle Edition - Edition no. 0 (11/18/2016)

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.


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25 thoughts on “Trusting God: 5 Biblical Strategies For When Life Is Hard”

  1. Pray for my friend who is suffering terrible emotional and relational pain right now. Thank you and God bless you and your ministry.

  2. Stephen, Recently a dear friend was experiencing a major crisis in his life and I shared my “go to” verses with him three of which you quote in this article. He is back on track trusting in the Lord. I have been receiving your email for a while now and enjoy and share them with my brothers. Thank you. You touch more lives than you know. May God give you your hearts desire.

  3. Thank you Stephen! Learning to trust God through the power of the Holy Spirit is truly insightful. You are sounding more like your wise Father, Mr. Mark, every day! Thanks again.

  4. Life seems upsidedown for me presently but I trusting God for everything. This article is even grounding me more…because I can do nothing in this challenging world without God. Lord, please give me the grace to trust you for everything.

  5. Thank God for your life and mandate, I’m still a work in progress and I trust that I’ll fully learn how to trust God always.

  6. I thank God for this its helpful. I am presently struggling with fear, anxiety and worry while living alone. Its been everyday struggle. Please pray for me.

  7. Thank you so much for the reminder to “not lean on our own understanding.” All too often it’s also the understanding of others too, and their understanding of a situation is under the same command….don’t lean on it. Trusting God isn’t blind. I like to call these trying times “Red Sea Moments”. Can anything be more dire that being backed up against the Red Sea with the worlds mightiest army charging at you. Moses’ understanding would have undoubtedly been grim, but he didn’t rely on that. He trusted God.

  8. This article has brought much relief to my broken spirit. Thank God for using you to touch and heal lives. God bless you Stephen

  9. My wife and I became Christian’s about 4 months ago. we didn’t know about spiritual warfare,but we learned very fast. Doing battle and getting stronger ?.in God everyday. Eye opening experience

  10. Awesome….God…He is truly amazing! I has a son that was murdered on Christmas eve several years ago…that was when I found, I could truly trust God. I ate, slept and breath Jesus. Finding that true friend that would see me through. He gave me peace in the midst of heartache and despair. He showed me how precious life really is and under no circumstances should life be taken for granted. I found a love like no other…a friend until the end and a part from Him, I was nothing…but He made me whole, as he kept me on the vine pruning and purging those things that separated me from Him and his love.

  11. How do you keep trusting God when he has failed you in every way in the past? When you run to Him and he only supplies more pain and rejection? When His working in 10k ways is only to make your life more of a living Hell? I ask sincerely because I held on for 26 years trusting God would finally do anything good in my life but He has only proven how much He must truly hate me to force this life on me.

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