If God loves us, why must we experience pain? Scripture tells us that we will in fact have times of trials and when the pain becomes too painful, our theology plays a role in how we respond. Trusting God is more than a feeling; it’s a choice. Because scripture is the voice of God, trusting God means believing what the Bible says. A correct theology informs us that our God has a plan and a purpose in all things. Make no mistake, while Christians are in the midst of hardship, the Bible never instructs us to suppress our pain: In times of distress, we are to turn to our Father. In all times and with every life situation, we have hope. We have gospel hope. In this post, we will point to six keys to trusting God’s faithfulness.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 5:1–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
God knew we would have questions in this life and our savior told us that our lives would have pain and suffering, but his words are filled with hope and consolation. We need this hope because many times our ever-changing feelings are not indicators of truth. He assures us that our current state is temporary. God is not bound by our circumstances. He is never absent. He promised peace for our trials when we are in him.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 16:33). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Pe 1:6–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Key #1: Trust that God works supernaturally.
The Bible promises that all things are for the good of those who believe and for the Glory of the Father, as the apostle reminds us that all of life is not without purpose (Rom. 8:28-29). Paul does not use these words flippantly, as many do in our day. No, as a man who underwent shipwrecks, beatings, and multiple imprisonments, he was intentionally choosing his words to insure the believer that God works supernaturally. Working supernaturally is natural for God. John Newton penned, …when we have been brought very low and helped, sorely wounded and healed, cast down and raised again, have given up all hope–and been suddenly snatched from danger, and placed in safety; and when these things have been repeated to us and in us a thousand times over, we begin to learn to trust simply to the word and power of God, beyond and against appearances… God is constantly working and moving and active. Trust that God works supernaturally.
The Westminster Confession states this point: God the great Creator of all things does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:28–29). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Key #2: Trust prayer and meditation of the Scriptures.
Job was no stranger to pain and suffering. Job’s life was before the time of the written Word of God, but Job was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1). Job was disciplined, prosperous, and virtuous. His love and reverence for God took precedence in his life. As the drama concluded, God blessed Job with twice as much as he had before. Rather than allowing the pain to become a wedge in our relationship with Jesus Christ, we can take cues from Job and offer our questions to God in prayer. In the wise words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, It matters little what form of prayer we adopt or how many words we use. What matters is the faith which lays hold on God, knowing that He knows our needs before we even ask Him. That is what gives Christian prayer its boundless confidence and its joyous certainty. We can develop a running conversation of prayer with the goal of greater intimacy with God. Today, we have opportunity to pore over the Scriptures and meditate on God’s truth.
I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Job 42:2–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Key #3: Trust in steadfastness.
Trials have the potential to produce something good in us. In James Chapter One, we learn of the persecuted church and how God used their time of suffering to produce maturity. James urges us to work on changing our attitude toward troubles from dread to positive expectation, faith, trust, and even joy. Confidently turning to God is a rightful testimony to others. Our steadfast witness of God’s faithfulness encourages fellow Christians and has potential to cause unbelievers to question their denial. God is faithful, even when we don’t see it. He works whether we are looking or not because God is faithful. Confess unbelief and in turn, trust in steadfastness.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jas 1:2–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 3:7–9). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Key #4: Trust God’s character.
We can see God’s faithfulness in Bible study of God’s attributes. The Belgic Confession states … He is eternal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, almighty, perfectly wise, just, good, and the overflowing fountain of all good. Clearly, our circumstances change but our God is unchangeable. We worship the same God who promised Abraham as many descendants as the stars. We serve the same Creator who placed those stars in the heavens. We can see God’s all-knowing and wise character through the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ. It was for our sake that He made this known so that we might trust in Him (1 Peter 1:20). We can trust in God’s character. We can trust that He is who he says he is!
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Heb 13:8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
“For I the Lord do not change;
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mal 3:6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Ti 2:13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Key #5: Trust in faith community.
We live in a culture that tends to emphasize the individual, but it is evident that God made us for community. It’s important that we surround ourselves with fellow believers who we can trust to pray for and with us. Paul reminds us in Philemon of the importance of faith community. Fellowship with other believers prompts us to think on God’s character. In community we find encouragement, accountability, and support (Hebrews 10:25, James 5:16). Our faith family is a reminder that we are never alone in the hard times.
I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Phm 4–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Key #6: Trust in gratefulness.
Gratitude gets at the very heart of what it means to be created, fallen, redeemed, and sustained by God. Gratefulness combats negative thinking and promotes right thinking. There are so many reasons to be thankful for and to our God. Biblically, the response to the blessing of daily provision and sustenance is deep gratitude. Whether good times or bad, God calls us to give thanks. Remember, God is working for our good. Praise the Lord daily and show him your gratitude for all he has done in your life. From the Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 2, we read:
Q. What must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort? A. Three things: first, how great my sin and misery are; second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Th 5:16–18). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 2:4–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Are you lacking faith? Do you need to cry out I believe; help my unbelief (Mark 9:24)? Believer, God is always with you. In His faithfulness, He will continually call to you. We can trust that God is so good that He provides for our every need. God’s sending his one and only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross provided for our most dire need. This is the greatest testimony to His faithfulness.
For further encouragement, read Hebrews Chapter 11.