"Why is it easier to obey God than to trust Him? Because obeying God makes sense to us. In most cases His laws appear reasonable and wise, and even when we don't want to obey them, we usually concede that they are good for us. But the circumstances we often find ourselves in defy explanation. When unexpected situations arise that appear unjust, irrational, or even dreadful, we feel confused and frustrated. And before long we begin to doubt God's concern for us or His control over our lives."
Humanly speaking today was not the best of days. An eleven-year-old boy, son of one of my former pastors, died this morning as a result of a careless driver running a red light. In a town not far away from my home, another child was killed and his sister injured when a car skidded off the road and hit them while they were waiting for their school bus. A friend got bad news yesterday. Her cancer has come back again and is spreading. Another friend is terminal, her heart failing. And the list could go on.
These are the moments when the quote above, from Jerry Bridges' book, Trusting God Even When Life Hurts, becomes real. We feel like the photo—squeezed past the crush point, wondering where God is in all of these terrible circumstances of life.
A friend, posting in response to the death of Jude, that precious eleven-year-old, mentioned a recent sermon on expectations. The prayers that went up on Jude's behalf were prayers of expectation—we expected something from God. Truth be told, not all of us got what we expected from Him. And that takes us back to Bridges' quote. Obeying is often far easier than trusting because God doesn't always do what we expect, what we think is best, what we ask for in faith.
We are confused, hurt, even frightened. Is God really in control? Is He good? If He is good, why does an eleven-year-old die? If God is in control, why didn't He stop the truck before it entered the intersection, or bring Jude to that corner two minutes earlier or two minutes later? Did God ignore the thousands of prayers that went up as Jude lay in the ICU? Was He powerless to answer those prayers? How does this tragic event end up being glorifying to God, or contribute to the best good of the family that is in mourning at this moment?
These are questions that bring us back to yet another question, one those of us who are believers hesitate to verbalize, though we may think it from time to time: Can God be trusted? This is something we will explore over the next few months in these blog posts.
In the meanwhile, here is something to cling to—and I mean CLING! Jude recently memorized Psalm 46. Here are some excerpts that we need to tuck away as resolutely as he did:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea...The Lord Almighty is with us...He says, 'Be still and know that I am God...'