You Can Trust God

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In the past two years, it seems as if life has gone from one hard thing to another. From disease to riots to hate to natural disasters to political incompetence and international heartbreak –will it ever end? And how will we keep our sanity until it does?

Recently I was battling through a very difficult season involving a loved one that was breaking my heart and there was nothing I could do to change it. I questioned why God would allow this to happen. I knew it couldn’t possibly be His will. He needed to fix it and fast. I lived in my overwhelmed emotions and began to have physical health issues from the stress. I was mentally distracted from the work God had called me to and wanted to give up. But God (oh, how I love those two words!) began to slowly turn my heart from desperation to dependence. I started meditating more on God’s character and less on the problem at hand. I began searching the Scriptures and praying God’s Word over the matter. I stopped telling God what I thought He should do and began telling Him that I trusted Him in whatever He chose to do. God gave me a phrase that became my lifeline every time the panic would start to stir in my heart: “I have entrusted my beloved into the hands of my Father.” I posted those words on my desk and ran them over and over in my head. I often spoke them out loud so that I could hear them in my ears.

In that season I didn’t need fluffy assurances and pretty memes. I needed a real faith for real life. I needed to focus on God’s power, faithfulness, strength, and promises. I needed to go to the Word of God for a word for my soul. I needed to pray His will through His Word. As I came before Him in raw honesty I felt Him soothe my wounded heart and calm my frantic spirit. I found the strength I desperately needed. I found hope in a hopeless situation. I found peace in the storm. I found a real God for real life.

But God . . .

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Some days I feel like Job – right in the enemy’s bullseye while God just stands back and watches. You know his story. Satan went before the Lord and – well – God kinda baited him: “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job. 1:8). And satan fired back that the only reason Job was so good was because God had put a hedge of protection and blessing around him. God gave satan permission to take everything and everyone (except his wife) away from him to test Job – and he passed with flying colors. In round two satan was allowed to make Job physically miserable. “In all this, Job did not sin in what he said” (2:10). We always talk about “the patience of Job,” but if you’ve ever read the whole account of his story, Job did a lot of whining. He questioned God. He “cursed the day of his birth” (3:1). His wife and friends were no help to him as they verbally attacked him and accused him and counseled him to “Curse God and die! (2:9) (such a lovely woman, Mrs. Job). 

And if you’ve ever read the whole account of his story, you’ll notice that God never explained why Job had to suffer so. He never said, “This is what that season was all about. Thank you for helping me take satan down several pegs!” Sometimes we get glimpses of what God’s up to, but more often, we won’t. I can’t count how many times I’ve cried out, “God I don’t understand why this is happening!” I said it with many tears very recently. And the Spirit reminded me of my two favorite words in all of Scripture: “But God . . .” Six letters that are packed with power and peace and hope. All seems lost – but God . . .  The world is wicked and vile – but God . . . The enemy is all over me – but God . . .  I have no hope – but God . . . my Joy is gone – but God . . .

But God is sovereign. But God is faithful. But God is mighty. But God is loving and gracious and good. Beloved, when you don’t understand – you can always trust His hand. Life is hard – but God . . .

Hold My Hand

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  James 4:8

When my son was much younger he was afraid of thunderstorms, especially those that came through at night.  Like every child, he wanted to be near his parents, where he felt safe; but he was at the age where he really wanted to be “a big boy.”  He didn’t want to give in to his fears, but his fears were very real.  I’ve been there, and I am sure you have as well.

I remember one night in particular, when a storm rolled in just as his dad and I were going to bed.   He said to me, “Mommy, I’m just gonna lay down here by your bedroom door.  I really don’t need to get in your bed anymore.”  “Okay son that is a good idea.  I am here if you need me.” And so he curled up with his pillow and blanket by the door.  The thunder crackled outside and lightning flashed through the sky.  “Mommy, I am going to lay down here on the floor beside your bed. Don’t step on me Mommy!”  “Okay son, I will be careful not to step on you. I’m here if you need me.”  Another bright flash followed by a crash of thunder.  “Mommy will you put your hand down here so I can hold it?”  “Of course son, here’s my hand. I’m here if you need me.”   Suddenly the sky lit up and a “BOOM!” rattled the windows.  “Mommy, I’m comin’ up there!”  And in just a few minutes, nestled in my arms, one hand reaching out to touch his dad, my son was fast asleep, even as the storm raged on.

Doesn’t life throw some awfully frightening storms our way at times?  The rain pounds down on us and we frantically search for a safe haven from the lightning.  I think the emotional and mental thunder is the worst.  The crash of a breaking heart, the crackle of frayed nerves and the BOOM that rattles our lives makes us want to reach out to someone, anyone who will comfort us and make us feel safe and secure.  Where do grown-ups go when the storms roll through?

Like many, I turn to the Word of God, and especially the Psalms. Psalmists like King David and Aseph, one of the Temple musicians, peppered the book of Psalms with both pleas and praise for God’s protection during stormy seasons.   God is called, a “shield” (Ps. 3:3, 5:12, 7:10,), a “refuge and stronghold” (Ps. 9:9), and a “place of shelter” (Ps. 55:8), just to name a few.  David finds security “in the shadow of [God’s] wings” (Ps. 17:8).  One of my favorite phrases is “But God…”  Over and over again, the Psalmist expresses his fears over the storm he is in, and then turns his heart around by saying “But God…” as he proclaims his confidence and trust in the Lord.  Psalm 73 could have been my son’s verse: “Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand.”  And David expressed what I am sure were his feelings that stormy night: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8).

Remember how Jesus calmed the storm in Mark 4: 35-41, and even walked on the tumultuous waves in Matthew 14:22-33?  He is still walking out on the choppy seas of your life and mine to calm the storm around us. Life is hard, but you don’t have to face it alone.  You have a Shield, a shelter and a refuge. Storms will come, of that we can be certain.  But God… God calls out “I’m here if you need me.”  He holds His arms open wide to draw His child near, and in the arms of God is peace, safety, security…and rest.

Holy Father, like a little child, I will draw close to You when the thunder crashes, all the way up into Your strong and reassuring arms.  You are my comfort in the storms of life.  Amen.