It is not easy to maintain a steadfast faith when circumstances become overpowering and inescapable. Such was the experience of Jane, a woman I met at a conference. With tears in her eyes, she approached me and began to tell me her story. She had been a Christian since childhood, but her life had begun to fall apart. Her young husband was diagnosed with cancer, could no longer work, and was experiencing depression. In order to support their family of three children, Jane was working many twelve-hour shifts as a nurse. The weight she was carrying began to crush her spirit, and she felt as if she could no longer hold on to her faith. She found it hard to trust God. She felt hopeless and alone.
I embraced this precious young woman and wept with her. I so wanted to make her life right. I so wanted God to lift her burden. I so wanted to give her an answer that would instantly give her hope. Her feelings were certainly understandable, so much so that I wanted to protectively stand in front of her and tell God that he was giving her more than she could bear. After I prayed with her, though, I took her hand and asked her a question that I have asked myself many times when I have been overcome by circumstances and felt that my back was against the wall.
My question was this: “Jane, what are your options? You can continue your journey alone, relying on your own strength, trying to make your life work apart from God. You can blame God for your heartache and suffering, and turn your back on him. But is this the best way to walk this difficult road? At this point in your life, what have you to lose by choosing to trust God—even when it doesn’t make sense?”
As Jane considered these questions, she eventually whispered, “Nothing. I have nothing to lose by trusting God. Perhaps I have everything to gain.”
At this point in your life, what have you to lose by choosing to trust God—even when it doesn’t make sense?Tweet
In the midst of a crushing test of adversity, my friend Carol Kent has found that her faith and trust have carried her through her deep trial. Carol’s only child, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a young man who loves God, was sentenced to life in prison without parole on a murder charge. In her book When I Lay My Isaac Down, she shares,
All of us have circumstances that produce varying degrees of personal loss and devastation. Will we maintain our grip on hope in the process of defeat? Will we live our lives with passion and purpose even if, in this lifetime, we are not permitted to have an answer to why something has happened? Will we choose unshakable faith, or will we give up on God? I believe God’s great invitation is to engage us in the process of discovering the power of choosing faith when that decision makes no sense. There is hidden power in our unthinkable circumstances.
The essence of trust is confidence in the Lord’s promise to ultimately prosper us and not harm us, to give us a hope and a future. This kind of trust can be hard work, though, for it involves the unknown and the unexplainable. This kind of trust means choosing to remain faithful to the God who “knows all mysteries.”
Many times, I have cried out to the Lord, asking him to explain or change my circumstances for the better, and his standard response is always, Cynthia, do you trust me?
My standard reply is, “Yes, Lord, I will trust you if you’ll just tell me how this is going to turn out.”
The Lord quickly responds, Cynthia, if I tell you how it will turn out, then there will be no need for you to trust.
We don’t like mystery. We’re much more comfortable with certainty than with uncertainty. Paula Rinehart, a marriage and family counselor, writes,
Indeed, any serious grappling with trust will lead us to the heart of mystery, of all that God chooses not to tell us. And mystery, as someone once said, is an embarrassment to the modern mind. . . .
. . . But accepting the mystery of what we cannot know will lead us to the heart of God, where we trade our craving for explanation for a simple willingness to trust.
When our circumstances force us to come to God, what we find is mystery—the majestic mystery of God’s sovereignty, love, and trustworthiness. It is in the dark that trust becomes trust. It is when the questions are not answered that trust blesses us and pleases God. The verse quoted at the beginning of this chapter is such an encouragement: “Blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.”
When our circumstances force us to come to God, what we find is mystery—the majestic mystery of God’s sovereignty, love, and trustworthiness.Tweet
Those who trust the Lord become like trees that are strong and can weather any storm. They are beautiful, always green and producing delicious fruit. Our trust is not in vain, for God’s plan is to prosper us and to bring beauty out of ashes. He is the only one who can.
[I] Carol Kent, When I Lay My Isaac Down (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004), 13.
[II] Paula Rinehart, Strong Women, Soft Hearts (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), 81