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Entries in Trusting God (4)


Do a flip-flop

I've been enjoying Lydia Brownback's book Trust. It's a wonderful collection of devotionals about trust. I hope to review it for next week's post at Out of the Ordinary.

One of the things we cope with daily is the tension between our feelings and what is true. Feelings are given to us by God, but held within our flesh, they may not always represent what is true. Feelings are fleeting, changeable, and often unreliable. Brownback has something to say about this:

Unpredictable and unstable as they are, if we allow our feelings to determine our well-being, rather than allowing our standing in Christ to determine our feelings, we are going to be anxious about everything all of the time.

Joy and peace are characteristics of the Christian life, but inevitably there will be times, whether through sin or through some hardship or through just being human, when joy and peace elude us. But the presence or absence of good feelings is no measure of God's favor. Christ is the only measure. If we look to our feelings as a barometer of how well we are doing with God, using them to measure whether he is pleased with us, then our faith will be shaken during times when feelings of joy and peace are hard to find.

How wonderfully freeing it is to flip-flop our feelings with faith -- and we can do it because it is God's will that we do so. Our relationship with God and all the good that accompanies it are secure in Christ, no matter how we feel.


We tend to underestimate

From Trusting God Even When Life Hurts, by Jerry Bridges

God disciplines us with reluctance, though He does it faithfully. He does not delight in our adversities, but He will not spare us that which we need to grow more and more into the likeness of His Son. It is our imperfect spiritual condition that makes discipline necessary.

This is not to say that every adversity that occurs in our lives is related to some specific sin we have committed. The issue God is dealing with in our lives is not so much what we do, but what we are. All of us tend to underestimate the remaining sinfulness in our hearts. We fail to see the extent of pride, fleshly self-confidence, selfish ambitions, stubbornness, self-justification, lack of love, and distrust of God that He does see. But adversity brings these sinful dispositions to the surface just as the refiner's fire brings impurities to the surface of the molten gold.


This usually involves adversity

From Trusting God Even When Life Hurts, by Jerry Bridges:

The psalmist said, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees (Psalm 119:71). He is speaking of experiental learning. We can learn God's will for our character intellectually through reading and studying the Scriptures -- and we should do that. That is where change begins, as our minds are renewed. But change -- down in the depths of our souls -- is produced as the tenets of Scripture are worked out in real life. This usually involves adversity. We may admire and even desire the character trait of patience, but we will never learn patience until we have been treated unjustly and learn experientally to "suffer long" (the meaning of patience) the one who treats us unjustly.

If you stop and think about it, you will realize that most godly character traits can only be developed through adversity.


The difference between trust and obey

From Jerry Bridges book Trusting God Even When Life Hurts:

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 explicable. 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 or 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 do not know the extent, the duration, or the frequency of the painful, adverse circumstances in which we must frequently trust God. We are always coping with the unknown.

Yet 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.