Monday, April 13, 2009

Can God be Trusted?

In the Old Testament, we read about a man named Job who found himself in the midst of struggling to understand why. His vibrant, fruitful world came to a crashing halt when God allowed him to suffer the loss of his possessions, his children, and his health. He couldn’t understand why this would happen to him as he had been a noble and upright man. Job’s not-so-helpful friends tried to give him answers, leaning on what they thought was a logical premise. They thought suffering was simply a result of sin. God eventually let them know they did not speak accurately about him.

God lovingly responded to Job’s unsettled questions of the heart. Instead of explaining the reasons Job suffered, God kindly directed Job back to an authentic trust in a God he could not understand. God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.” (Job 38:4) God led Job to a deeper understanding of his almighty power and omniscience. Job finally declared to God, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you. You asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I—and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. . . . I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.” (Job 42:2 – 3, 5)

We must ask ourselves, are we willing to trust God even though we don’t understand his ways? It’s hard, I know. Direct answers would be much nicer. How do we grow to the point of trust? How can we rest in the arms of a loving God when we can’t understand why he allows certain difficulties in our life? Certainly we cannot know all the answers, but as we draw close to God, we begin to get to know who he is and what he is about. We develop a trust for the God who loves us. In this passage about Job, notice he said he had heard about God, but now he has seen him with his eyes. Job moved from a point of knowing about God to a place of truly experiencing him.
Job was able to put his trust in a God he knew, not just in one he had heard about. The same is true with us. We can find people’s opinions about God from books, commentaries, editorials, and even sermons on Sundays, but we must get to know him for ourselves. A search for the truth about God will lead us to an understanding of his trustworthiness. It’s one thing to know about God in a distant sort of way; it is another thing to experience him up close and personal. As we get to know him, our heart is drawn into a love relationship with him.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said, “If we begin to worship and come to God again and again by meditating, by reading, by prayer; and by obedience, little by little God becomes known to us through experience. We enter into a sweet familiarity with God, and by tasting how sweet the Lord is we pass into . . . loving God, not for our own sake, but for Himself.” We can fall into the arms of a God who we know and love, but it is difficult to trust someone we do not know personally.

As Job learned, we cannot understand all of God’s ways, but there are certain qualities we can know about him. Where do we begin our journey of knowing him? The Bible gives us glimpses of the High King of heaven and his marvelous attributes. Here are a few of the numerous qualities we learn about God as we see them revealed in the Bible. I have provided just one biblical reference for each attribute, although there are numerous others.
He is:

Almighty (Genesis 17:1)
Everlasting (Genesis 21:33)
All-Powerful (2 Chronicles 20:6)
Abundant in Strength (Psalm 147:5)
Abounding in Love (Psalm 103:8)
Sovereign (Deuteronomy 3:24)
Merciful (Psalm 62:12)
Trustworthy (2 Samuel 22:3)
Our Keeper (Psalm 121:2)
Our Provider (Matthew 6:26)
Our Good Shepherd (John 10:11)
Able—nothing is too difficult for him (Genesis 18:14)

I want to get to know a God like this, don’t you? Certainly if God is who the Bible says he is, then he is worthy of our respect, obedience, and yes, trust. Consider where you are with God right now in your life. What do you believe about him? We don’t want to make assumptions about God; rather, we want to explore who he claims to be. As we get to know the God of the Bible, we begin to recognize his abiding love for us. He is worthy of our trust. I encourage you to continue your journey of engagement with God.

Based on what I have learned from the Bible, here’s what I personally believe about God. I believe he is a loving, compassionate, merciful God. I believe he sent his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for the payment for my sins. I believe Jesus rose again, offering us the promise of eternal life in heaven one day with him. I believe he has provided his Spirit to live in my life to help us, comfort us, and guide us in truth. I believe he will never leave us. I believe he is a sovereign God who can do all things, knows all things, and sees all things.

What do you believe? Take a moment to write out your statement of belief. Consider why you believe what you believe. Don’t just let what you see on television or hear from friends determine your own personal belief system. If you believe there is a God, then he rightfully deserves to be investigated. Get to know him. Search the Bible and see what it has to say about him. If we ultimately want to be able to trust him, we need to get to know who he is. How can you trust someone you don’t know?

John Calvin said, “Our inklings of the realities of God will be vague and smudged until we learn from Scripture to think correctly about the realities of which we are already aware.” He added, “Unless God’s Word illumine the way, the whole life of men is wrapped in darkness and mist, so that they cannot but miserably stray.” We don’t want to wander aimlessly in our misery or stumble in the dark without hope, simply because we haven’t taken the time to get to know the God of the Bible. He is worthy of our trust and welcomes us into a loving relationship with him.

Today’s blog is an excerpt from my new book, Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive. It is my hope that this week you and your family will consider what believe about God and talk about your statements of belief together as a family.

1 comment:

LauraLee Shaw said...

Great food for my soul today, Karol. Thank you!