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Can God be Trusted?

I (Julie) finished my first book of 2009. Admittedly, I started the book in November, but I’m still going to count it toward my new year’s goal of 12. Is that cheating? I read, “Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts,” by Jerry Bridges. It isn’t one of those warm and fuzzy Christian books. The concepts hit the core of my struggle with several uncontrollable issues in my life. Last year was a difficult one for our family. We experienced loss, we saw broken family relationships and tensions and personally we suffered a miscarriage and work overload. Honestly, the message seemed to come at just the right time for me.

The first chapter of the book is, “Can God Be Trusted?” an age-old question of humanity. His premise is three-fold:

God is completely sovereign.

God is infinite in wisdom.

God is perfect in love.

He uses the scripture from Lamentations 3:37-38 “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” and Matthew 5:45,“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Although this might seem offensive to many people, because they don’t want to accept that both good things and calamities come from God; we must realize that God has a loving purpose in every affliction that He allows to come our way. Romans 8:28 promises, “We know that in ALL things work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

My favorite analogy in the book refers to the above-mentioned passage. The author explains, “The ‘things’ of Romans 8:28 are like the ingredients of the biscuit dough. By themselves they are not tasteful to us. We shun them. And we certainly shun the heat of the oven. But when God in His infinite skill has blended them all together and cooked them properly in the oven of adversity, we shall one day say, ‘it is good.’” p. 152.

God is in control of nations, natural disasters, illness, childlessness, world affairs, physical deformities, and all other difficulties of life. However, “God doesn’t willingly bring affliction and grief to the children of men” (Lam. 3:32-3). Our response must be one of learning to trust that God is in control, even when we don’t understand. When we trust God in times of adversity, we are honoring God and bringing him glory. God’s honor must come BEFORE our feelings (Matt. 26:39). The good news is that our afflictions are always accompanied with the compassion and consolation of God. He sites the apostle Paul as a prime example of someone who did not receive ameliorization from his pain, but he received grace.

The most challenging concept in the book is only addressed at the end. He states that our role is to trust, to pray (he shares his view on how long we must pray over a specific issue), and to act when the time is right. That is understandable, right? However, the author’s last point is that as Christians, we are to be thankful in good times AND bad times as I Thessalonians 5:18 states, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It is not in a natural virtue to show gratitude, especially when life is hard. Thanksgiving in all circumstances (whether favorable or not) is a response to the trustworthiness of God. The author believes God uses trials to develop our character and to discipline us at times. We should not expect the Almighty to explain Himself, instead we should trust that what is happening He has orchestrated in a wise and loving way for our good.

Bridges believes that God’s goal for us is not necessarily comfort or happiness, but conformity to Christ in ever-increasing measure. What do you think? Do you agree with Bridges?

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