Sometimes I Don’t Trust God

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Truth: “When you can’t see God’s, hand, trust His heart”

Emily Freeman

It seems that in life… You are either coming out of a difficult season, in the middle of a difficult season, or about to go into one.

That may not be particularly encouraging, but, I have to admit, it seems to be true

Fact: Life is difficult

Even when we are not in a rough season, it seems like there are often others close to us who are

Each of us know someone – a family member, a friend, someone we work with or work for – who is going through a rough season

Fact: Life is tough

If you or someone you care about isn’t facing some real challenges right now, you should probably pause to enjoy it while you thank God

The truth is, in this sin-stained world, the painless times don’t seem to last very long

When life gets tough, and we know it will, how we respond can either build our faith and draw us closer to Christ or weaken our intimacy with Him as we slide in the wrong direction

Speaking the other day to someone who once was a believer and an active church attender who no longer would classify herself as a believer and certainly not a member of any church

When she started going through “the fire,” she questioned why God would allow this to happen to her and where was He in the midst of this turmoil?

 

  She eventually reach a point in her life where she decided that she could no longer worship a God that she could not trust

This is the question each of us will have to answer one day — one of life’s biggest decisions

Will we trust that God is good even when life is not?

Sometimes it is simply difficult to trust God and there are many personal reasons why that is so

Our response to pain and life’s challenges determines so much about our future

If we decide to trust, we will:

          • Grow in our faith
          • Deepen in our intimacy with God
          • Be conformed to the image of Christ

If we allow our hearts to drift:

          • We will wake up one day drowning in doubts
          • We will be buried under burdens
          • Feeling far from the only One who can help us heal

The way we respond to challenges determines the stories we will tell one day

Your decision to trust God in life’s storms may be on of the best ongoing choices you ever make

As a Christian leader, I would suggest that one of the most important challenges people face may also be one of the least talked about in churches today: DOUBT

Many sincere Christians battle spiritual doubts at one time or another

But few people feel comfortable taking about it with others believers 

It is almost as if having doubts and questions is a sign or weakness — a lack of faith or a lack of commitment to following Jesus

Yet, in reality, doubts are all part of a healthy journey with Jesus, the journey of faith

When I was saved there was a saying that many of us would glibly mouth off

“The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it!”

But that is not most people’s experience in life … in the journey of faith

It is not my experience either … Not as “settled” as we think at certain times in life

For every person who has a genuine, rock-solid faith

I know ten more who are naturally skeptical

They are often thoughtful, intelligent, analytical people who WANT to trust God with everything in their lives

It’s just that they need to settle a few issues before they can

Truth is: Honest skepticism is not a bad thing

Here is what most believers do:

A tough spot in life – a storm arises – and as they struggle through it they begin to wonder if God really cares about them and what they are experiencing

They begin to doubt and doubt leads to questions:

            • Does God really cares?
            • Does God love me?
            • If God loves me and if God cares then where is He at this desperate time in my life?
            • If He is all powerful, let’s see Him (add whatever you need)
                • Change the circumstances
                • Raise the dead
                • Heal the family member
                • Intervene in this issue I am facing 

We want to see some tangible evidence that what we have been taught and what we are believing about God and His involvement in our life is actually true and that it works in real life

And when that does not happen as we expected it to 

When “proof” that He cares seems absent

When He does not do what we asked / demanded of Him

Then doubt creeps in

And, as good believers, we know we should not doubt – we should simply believe and trust – we bury the doubt and don’t deal with it

The only problem is DOUBT DOES NOT STAY BURIED

So, that leads me to today’s topic: “Sometimes I Don’t Trust God”

You want to trust God completely, but you can’t because you doubt

Doubt — or the absence of trust — comes in all shapes and sizes

Some people might doubt God’s very existence

Others believe He is likely real, but just not very involved in our everyday lives

Some might not trust His goodness, arguing that if God were truly good, then He wouldn’t allow so much evil and suffering in the world

Some might not pray often or ever, doubting that their prayers make any difference at all

            • Is God there?
            • Is He real?
            • Is He good?
            • Is He really involved?
            • Does He even care?

As a result some people argue that if you have any type of doubt, then you don’t have strong faith

Truth: I would suggest that we look at it from a different angle: You might not have strong faith unless you push through some honest doubts

Truth: In order to decide to trust, you have to let yourself doubt!

Many people struggle to trust God because they want a logical, rational approach to life

The are looking for something scientific, verifiable, and consistent that can support their faith

But, by its very nature, faith requires trust in something – or in someone – that’s not always predictable or understandable by human standards

Almost everyone desires to have irrefutable proof of God’s benevolent presence in their lives

Wanting proof is nothing new – But not receiving that proof can and does lead to doubts

Even those who don’t know much about their Bible, have heard of Doubting Thomas

It is interesting to me that there are only twelve verses in Scripture that mention Thomas, and yet he has been labeled for centuries as one of the world’s biggest doubters when, in reality, that was only a very small part of his story

The rest of Thomas’s story gives us hardcore evidence that great doubters can become people of great faith

After Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, Thomas doubted it was true and declared that he wouldn’t believe unless he saw proof

And, instead of getting mad at him and casting him aside for his lack of faith

Jesus gave Thomas exactly what he needed to believe

John 20:24-29 “Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.’

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”

Perhaps this story is so famous and well known because we can all relate to Thomas’s doubt and his longing for certainty

You don’t understand everything about God

Some things in your life aren’t adding up

You have questions that need answers

As a result you have lingering doubts and some spiritual reservations

In other words, you believe in God but you just don’t trust Him completely “Sometimes I Don’t Trust God”

You are committed to following Jesus, yet you still hold back some part of yourself, wondering whether God really has your best interests at heart

The secret to Thomas’s turn around as he became a great man of faith was that he learned the difference between believing in and believing

Thomas believed in Jesus but..

Once he touched his Lord

Once he had his questions answered

Once the tension in his life was resolved  

Thomas no longer believed in Jesus, He believed Him

His Words, His character, Who He is, What He accomplished

This one-time doubter became one of the most faith-filled believers

Thomas was so convinced that Jesus had risen that he left his comfortable surroundings and travelled all the way to India to tell people about Jesus

He is known as the first evangelist (apostle) to take the gospel to this part of the world and share it boldly

And when opponents of Christ threatened his life if he didn’t renounce his faith, Thomas stood firm

As a result, the Christ haters drove a spear through his body, turning him into a faithful martyr of the gospel

Doubting Thomas became Trusting Thomas

And his life teaches us that doubt is not the end of real faith but often the beginning

Thomas trusted Jesus enough to die for Him

Do you trust Him enough to live for Him?

When we hit the storms in life and things are not going the way we planned or the way we need them to go …

The need we have at that time is to know that someone cares

We don’t need someone to fix the problem because most times we already know what we have to do …

We just want someone to listen so we know that they care about us 

We need to know that in the midst of the pain and confusion we matter to someone

We need to believe that our pain matters to God

This is certainly evident in the way the disciples responded whenever troubles came their way

The story of Jesus calming the storm:

Mark 4:35-41 “On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

They did not ask Him to “fix it” — They wanted to know if He cared!

This must have been quite the storm as some of these disciples were seasoned fishermen and use to being on the water in good weather and bad

And, we can be hard on them and wonder why they didn’t just trust Jesus and not doubt that everything would be alright

Sometimes I Don’t Trust God

But I totally understand where they are coming from

I do a lot of flying and, in spite of that, I am not a big fan of turbulence

On one particular flight that felt more like a thrill ride at Buffalo Days than a commercial flight the turbulence was especially bad

If Jesus had been sitting next to me on that plane asleep the whole time, I can guarantee you I would have woken Him up

“Do you not feel that? Aren’t you going to do something? Don’t you care?”

And, we can see their lack of trusting in the question they asked:

“Don’t you care if we drown?”

In other words, “I’m trying to trust you, but our lives are in danger, and you don’t even seem to notice. Here I’ve devoted my entire life to following You around, trying to learn to do things your way, yet You don’t seem to understand me at all and simply don’t seem to care.”

Lady doctor I communicated with this week…

But to say frankly, my faith is getting less and weak, as God is still silent on my personal life, still no husband, no future as a woman.. It does disturb me a lot from inside, my heart is almost broken. During pandemic it became worse due to isolation and many restrictions…

She is asking, “Does God care?”

She is wondering, “Can I really trust God?”

After the disciples expressed their fear and their lack of trust, Jesus got up and did something He did often

He performed a miracle

He rebuked the wind and the waves

He told the raging storm to “be quiet and still”

And everything was instantly calm again

Then Jesus turned His attention to His disciples and asked one of the most important questions He could ever ask:

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith” (Mark 4:40)

Another way to say that: “Do you not trust Me?”

He is saying:

Really? Don’t you know Me by now?

Do you really think I’d let anything happen to you out here?

I wonder how many times Jesus might want to ask us something similar

“Why are you afraid?”

“Why do you doubt My goodness?”

“Why do you try to do everything yourself?”

“Why don’t you trust Me?”

So many people think that if you are a Christian, you shouldn’t have trouble

If you are a follower of Jesus, you shouldn’t experience trials

However, that is dead wrong as Jesus promised just the opposite:

John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble…”

Thank God, as we saw last week, He didn’t end there

“But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If it is true that God loves us so much, why would He ever allow things to become so difficult for us?

I can’t completely answer that questions but I do know this: When things are good, people tend to forget about God.

I hate to admit it, but that can be very true for me

When everyone is healthy, when there is money in the bank, when all my relationships are moving smoothly … it is easy to start doing life in my own strength, letting my awareness that I need Him fade

But the moment life throws us a curveball, God is often the first One we turn to for help

It is easy to ignore God when life is good

But He sure seems appealing in the middle of a storm

Jonah knew a thing or two about that

He’s rebelled against what God had told him to do and made a run for it in the opposite direction

But through a series of unusual events, Jonah’s actions caught up with him at sea

He was thrown overboard and swallowed by an enormous fish

Jonah himself described the life-altering incident this way:

“In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me … When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you…” (Jonah 2:2, 7)

Notice when Jonah remembered God — It was during his distress

I personally can’t think of many people who remember God during their success, but I know plenty who do during their distress

When you are drowning, you need a life preserver

When there is a storm, you need shelter

When you are hurting, you need a comforter

God allows storms in our lives for a variety of reasons, and one of them is to draw us closer to Him!

To trust God regardless of your circumstances — remember two things when you are caught in a storm

1> God’s presence is with you, no matter how alone or ignored you may feel

He is always with you

Mark wrote in his gospel regarding the same incident, ”And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling” (Mark 4:37)

Notice that this was not a spring shower — it was almost too much for the small boat and the frightened disciples to handle

But even though the circumstances seemed too much to bear, the disciples were not alone

Mark states, “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion” (Mark 4:38)

Again, so many people think that they wouldn’t be going through their struggles if God were really with them 

But that’s simply not the case

Having Jesus in the stern beside you doesn’t mean the storm won’t rock your boat

It just means the storm won’t sink your boat

Never forget, He is with you, both in a spring shower and in the worst tornado imaginable

It has been proven that the simple presence of anything living may help you to live longer

The presence of:

          • A spouse
          • A child
          • A roommate
          • A dog
          • A bird
          • A rabbit
          • A hamster
          • A fish
          • A ferret
          • And possibly certain kinds of cats

Just kidding, we all know nothing good comes from cats

The good new is that you don’t have to depend on a pet or a household plant

Your have the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Hosts, and the Divine Counsellor who will never leave you nor forsake you

Just as Jesus was with the disciples in the boat

He is with you in whatever storm you may be facing

And, because He is always good, you can trust Him

I love the comfort we find in so many of the Psalms

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1)

He is ever present

He is always with us

He is faithful to help in time of trouble

Psalm 23:4a “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,

for you are with me…”

The reason David had no fear is because he trusted the Good Shepherd

And just like David, I would rather walk through the valley of the shadow of death with Jesus than stroll on the mountaintops without Him

2> Not only is God with you in the storms, He will also use them for His purposes in your life

No matter how terrible it may seem in the moment, God always has a higher plan and a good purpose because He loves you more than you can imagine

Think about the story of the disciples in the boat and the storm coming at them without warning

Who decided to take that boat ride?

It was Jesus

After teaching, Jesus said, “Let us go to the other side.”

Why did He plan this short trip?

Because He knew that on the east side of the lake there was a man in need

So he loaded up the disciples and started the journey to go help this suffering person

And since Jesus was God in the flesh, He knew the storm would come up

Going into the storm was always part of His plan

Don’t miss this:

The disciples didn’t experience the storm because they were out of God’s will

The disciples experienced the storm because they were in God’s will

Their ordeal wasn’t some accident, some freak event that took Jesus by surprise — He knew the storm was coming

AND, He knew it would serve a higher purpose in the lives of those He loved

Now, you might be asking, “Did God cause the storm or just allow it?”

That is a great question, and a fair one

You might ask that about some area of your life or about someone you care about

      • Did God cause me to lose my job?
      • Did God cause me to get depressed?
      • Did God cause this bad thing to happen?

We need to be honest and admit that brilliant and sincere Christians passionately debate this question 

Does God cause everything to happen, or does God simply allow some things to happen?

Some say that God never causes anything bad to happen

Since God is a good God, they suggest that He causes only good things, and all bad things come from our evil opposition

Others argue that God is so big and sovereign that He rules the whole universe and causes everything that happens on earth and in heaven

Honestly, I don’t know the answer — I’m not God

I can’t tell you whether God causes storms or just allows them

BUT, one thing you can count on is this: God always uses storms

When we love Him and we are pursuing His purposes, He is always working things out for our good — even the storms   (Romans 8:28)

When we recognize this truth, we can decide ahead of time that no matter what happens, no matter what life throws at us, we will trust God

If you know that God is always with you and that He uses everything for u=your good, why are you afraid?

Trust Him

Let’s pull out one more really important truth from this story of the disciples, the boat, and the storm …

Maybe you’ve heard well-meaning people say, “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

While this sounds good and it might feel right, nowhere in the Bible does It ever actually say that

I’m almost certain most people are misquoting 1 Corinthians 10:13 when they say this. 

That verse reads: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Clearly, we see that God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle

But Scripture never says that God won’t give you more than you can handle

I would argue the opposite:

God often allows you to experience more than you can handle to teach you to trust and depend on Him

Remember: “Sometimes I Don’t Trust God”

The apostle Paul learned this valuable lesson and recorded his findings in 2 Corinthians

We are not sure exactly what his ailment was, but Pau lhad what he called a “thorn in the flesh”

Scholars have theorized for centuries about the possibilities for his pain, but the best we can do is guess

What we know is that Paul pleaded faithfully with God multiple times to take it away, yet God never did

If ever there was a person who was worthy of this type of miracle, it was certainly Paul

He suffered immensely for the Gospel, way more than most of us could ever imagine or endure

He had boundless faith in God, and he prayed with all his heart

If God was going to answer anyone’s prayer with a miracle, it seems like this one should be a top candidate

Yet God allowed Paul to continue living with that thorn, whatever it was, something that seemed like it was more than he could handle

Paul, rather than allowing this challenge to turn him away from God, decided instead to trust God and let it draw him closer

In the middle of Paul’s pain, God spoke to him and offered him this promise:

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God promised that His grace was enough

Paul didn’t need God to remove his problem — God’s presence was all Paul needed

Don’t believe the lie that God won’t give you more than you can handle

If you decide to start something new, chances are it’s going to be more than you can handle

When God prompts you to go start something new, He will provide you with enough grace to handle what you can’t handle on your own

When He leads you to stop something you have done for years, it likely will be more than you can do on your own

So just admit it and ask Him to help you

And when you are weak, He will be strong

Never be afraid to move forward through a challenge, trial, or storm because it feels like more than you can handle

You may be tempted to think, I need to be strong

But the truth is it is okey to be weak

In your weakness, His strength will be all your need

Whenever you face a storm, a struggle, some unexpected trial — just remember God will occasionally allow you to have more than you can handle

The storm will seem like it is about to swamp your boat

Don’t put your hope in the boat … Like David, we need to say, “my soul hopes in the Lord”