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God is completely sovereign, infinite in wisdom, perfect in love, and therefore worthy of our trust. God's desire for us is that we learn to trust Him.
Learning to trust God has been a slow and difficult process for me. It is a process that is still under way. But several years ago, in an effort to strengthen my own trust in God, I began a lengthy Bible study on the subject of God's sovereignty in the affairs of His people. That study has helped me immeasurably, and it is the fruit of that study I now share with you. This is written from the perspective of a brother and companion to all those who are tempted at times to ask, "Can I really trust God?"
Adversity is difficult even when we know God is in control of our circumstances. In fact, that knowledge sometimes tends to aggravate the pain. "If God is in control," we ask, "why did He allow this to happen?"
All of us experience adversity at different times and in varying degrees throughout our lives. "Man is born to adversity as surely as sparks fly upward" (Job 5:7). Adversity and its accompanying emotional pain comes in many forms. Some pain is sudden, traumatic, and devastating. Other adversities are chronic, persistent, and seemingly designed to wear down our spirits overtime. Even those whose lives are free from major pain still experience the frequently frustrating or anxiety-producing events of daily life which momentarily grab our attention and rob us of our peace of mind. It is in the crucible of even this minor level of adversity that we are tempted to wonder, "Can I trust God?"
I have spent a good portion of my adult life encouraging people to pursue holiness; to obey God. Yet, I acknowledge it often seems more difficult to trust God than to obey Him. The moral will of God given to us in the Bible is rational and reasonable. The circumstances in which we must trust God often appear irrational and inexplicable. The law of God is readily recognized to be good for us, even when we don't want to obey it. The circumstances of our lives frequently appear to be dreadful and grim or perhaps even calamitous and tragic. Obeying God is worked out within well-defined boundaries of God's revealed will. Trusting God is worked out in an arena that has no boundaries. We are always coping with the unknown.
It is just as important to trust God as it is to obey Him. When we disobey God we defy His authority and despise His holiness. But when we fail to trust God we doubt His sovereignty and question His goodness. In both cases we cast aspersions upon His majesty and His character. God views our distrust of Him as seriously as He views our disobedience.
The Scriptures teach us three essential truths about God-truths we must believe if we are to trust Him in adversity. They are:
God is completely sovereign.
God is infinite in wisdom.
God is perfect in love.
Someone has expressed these three truths as they relate to us in this way: "God in His love always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty He has the power to bring it about."
The sovereignty of God is asserted, either expressly or implicitly, on almost every page of the Bible. Rather than being offended over the Bible's assertion of God's sovereignty in both good and calamity, believers should be comforted by it. Whatever our particular calamity or adversity may be, we may be sure that our Father has a loving purpose in it. As King Hezekiah said, "Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish" (Isaiah 38:17). God does not exercise His sovereignty capriciously, but only in such a way as His infinite love deems best for us.
God's sovereignty is also exercised in infinite wisdom, far beyond our ability to comprehend. 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. (Taken from the preface and chapter 1 of Trusting God.)
1. Do you have a harder time trusting God in the major trials of your life or in relatively minor things? Explain why you think this is the case.
2. Do you think Christians struggle more with questions and uncertainties in the midst of adversity than nonbelievers? Why or why not?
3. a. According to Proverbs 27:1, what should be our perspective on the future?
b. How does this affect our need to trust God?
4. God desires that we learn to trust Him. What do you learn about trust from these verses?
5. a. What is the difference between trusting God and obeying Him?
b. How are trusting God and obedience related?
c. Is it easier for you to trust God or to be obedient? Explain why.
d. Describe a situation in your life where obedience and trusting were both important.
e. Describe a time when trusting God made it easier to be obedient.
6. Read Psalm 78:9-22.
a. What attitude did the Israelites reveal in the desert? b. What was God's reaction to their attitude?
c. Describe a time when your attitude was similar to that of the Israelites.
d. How do you think God felt about your attitude? (See Hebrews 11:6 and Philippians 2:14.)
e. What in your life indicated how God felt?
7. According to Isaiah 55:9 and Romans 11:33, why is it important for us to trust God even when we don't understand what He is doing?
8. a. What do these verses say about our privilege of knowing God?
b. Knowing God is more than simply knowing facts about Him. What does it mean to know God?
c. What are you doing to get to know God better?
d. Do you need to make or renew your commitments to these actions?
e. Write a prayer in which you express your desire to know God more intimately.
Trust in Action
Choose one or more of these ideas to work on. Groups may want to allow time each week to share experiences from this section.
1. Keep a journal while studying this book. Record all the circumstances in which you see God's control and guidance in your life. Beginning this log now will help you see concrete evidence for truths discussed in later chapters.
2. Memorize Psalm 32:10.
3. Make a commitment to memorize Romans 8:18-39. This may seem like an overwhelming task, but if the passage is broken down into small sections, it can be memorized fairly easily. The rewards of having this amazing passage memorized will be more than worth the effort.
4. Think of a relationship in which you have trusted another person. Write a letter to this person and share your thoughts from this lesson. Tell this person how much you value his or her trustworthiness.
5. Ask God for the opportunity to share something about His trustworthiness with an unbeliever. Watch for the opportunity and take advantage of it.
Excerpted from TRUSTING GOD by JERRY BRIDGES Copyright © 1989 by Jerry Bridges. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted October 13, 2004
This book is a keeper. It has been most valuable to me in understanding God and the pain in life. The bumps of life puts things out of focus spiritually and this book has helped me toward a better understanding of life and pain. I am reading this book again (and I am ordering extra copies to give away) as it has helped me focus on the scriptures I need to strengthen my trust in God. This book is great for a small group Bible study!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.