Have you ever noticed that belief comes far more easily than trust?
I believe a lot of things about God. I know He created the world and sustains it. I believe in Jesus -- that He came to earth, died and rose from the dead so that I can have a relationship with Him. I do not doubt that these things are true. My problem is that, even amidst those strong beliefs, I don’t always trust Him.
For months, I joined my friend in praying that her credentialing would come through to pursue a teaching job. She was anxious to do more in her career and to help out with the family finances. We had faithfully asked God to send what she needed from overseas so she could take the next steps. Week after week, we experienced disappointment as the documents she was counting on failed to show up. During this waiting time, she was placed in a variety of “lesser positions”, working in roles that were not what she was hoping for. Why had God chosen to not answer her prayers? Did we need to pray harder? Was He not listening?
Fast forward several months, and we see God’s answer! He had been using all of those “lesser positions” and experiences to groom her perfectly for just the right job. She had seen things in the school system and experienced challenging students that she may never have had the opportunity to work with; all of this was preparation for a new opportunity, tailor-made for her. Throughout her agonizing wait, God had been orchestrating His perfect plan for her life, even when she didn’t realize it!
Why do we continually question the goodness and timing of God? Why don’t we trust that He is working even when we don’t see it? There is a great illustration of this in 2 Kings 6, when the people of Israel were surrounded by a strong enemy force. The servant of Elisha, the prophet, feared and fretted for his life. So Elisha prayed,
“Open his eyes Lord so that he may see. Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17).
God revealed to Elisha’s servant that He was working in the heavenly realm. I think He wants us to know the same thing: that He is orchestrating a plan even when we can’t see it.
When I pray, I believe that God CAN do anything. I know that He has the power and ability to do whatever He chooses. However, I sometimes struggle to believe that He always has my best in mind (in other words: I struggle to think He will do what I think is best.) Sometimes underneath my prayer requests is fear -- fear that God won’t answer and fear that His answers aren’t what I had in mind.
This lack of trust is never more real than when I pray for my my loved ones who don’t know Jesus. It feels like fear can literally grip me in those moments. If I focus on what’s going on around me, I end up with sleepless nights and an upset stomach; I lose hope when the people I care about continue to reject the spiritual things I know are so crucial.
I’m sure you can relate. Perhaps you have been asking God for physical or emotional healing, a new job or a saved marriage. Maybe you feel hopeless over other areas of your life that cause you to overeat or lose sleep.
In Matthew 14, Jesus invites Peter to join him as He walks on water. Note what happens next:
“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, 'Lord, save me.'” (Matthew 14:29-30).
When did Peter begin to sink? When he took his eyes off of Jesus! When we look at the rough waves and choppy waters around us, instead of trusting in the God who knows all, we falter. When we question His love and care for us, instead of believing that He is watching and working in the unseen realms, we fear. When we focus on what we see and forget that God often works in ways we cannot see, we lose hope.
My friend was fortunate enough to see, in retrospect, exactly why God answered her prayers when and the way He did. But we don’t always know the reasons for God’s delays. During these periods of waiting, we must focus on what we do know to be true of God. He is loving; He is just. He is slow to anger and abounding in love. He is faithful; He is powerful. “God wills that none would perish” (2 Peter 3:9).
Remind yourself of these things when your trust in Him waivers. Keep your eyes focused on Him and not what you see around you. And then, like the father in Mark 9:24, pray, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief (lack of trust)!” (italics mine)
Encouraged by Bonnie's message? Why not share it with others -- family, friends, coworkers -- especially those facing similar challenges.