Trust in the Lord
Trust in the Lord
One of the biggest obstacles to faith is the suffering of the innocent. It is usually one of the first questions raised in an Alpha small group: ‘If there is a God who loves us, how come there is so much suffering in the world? How come there is such injustice and oppression?
These are very important and necessary questions but there are no easy answers. Yet God is able to meet us in the midst of suffering and struggles. Extraordinarily, it is often the people who have gone through the greatest suffering who have the strongest faith. They testify to the presence of God with them, strengthening and comforting them in the midst of their pain. Betsie ten Boom, as she lay dying in Ravensbrück concentration camp, turned to her sister Corrie and said, ‘We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.’
Faith involves trusting in the Lord. The people of God in the Bible looked out on a world of suffering. But they trusted in the Lord despite what they saw.
Trust in the Lord in the midst of injustice and oppressionPsalm 82:1-8
How do we respond to all the injustice in the world? The psalmist trusts that ultimately God will put things right: ‘You’ve got the whole world in your hands!’ (v.8b, MSG).
It is a great blessing to live under a good system of justice. It is a terrible curse to live under corrupt and incompetent judges. But ultimately, God will call them to account.
‘God presides’ over all other expressions of power (‘gods’) (v.1). Trust that God is ‘The President’ – he is in ultimate control.
‘God… puts all the judges in the dock. “Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough”’ (v.2, MSG). But faith in God’s ‘presidency’ should never lead to complacency or passivity. The psalmist is passionate to see the world changed.
We are not only to trust God but also we have a duty to do everything within our power to see that justice is done. We must act on behalf of the poor: ‘Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked’ (vv.3–4).
A time will come when things will be put right; injustice will be removed and there will be deliverance from, for example, corrupt governments. He prays: ‘Rise up, O God, judge the earth’ (v.8a).
While we too hope in God’s final judgment, we anticipate that justice by acting now on behalf of the poor and oppressed. We should raise the same challenge to those in power, ‘How long will you defend the cause of the unjust?’
Lord, thank you that one day there will be justice for all. You will put things right. In the meantime, help me to act on behalf of the poor and oppressed in our world.
Trust in the Lord in the midst of disaster and turmoilActs 27:13-44
When things go wrong in your life are you sometimes tempted to panic? I know that I am. If everything is going well in our lives, it is relatively easy to trust in the Lord. However, there are times when we face major challenges to our faith. Among his many challenges, trials and sufferings, Paul was shipwrecked three times (2 Corinthians 11:23b–25).
In today’s passage, we read of one of these occasions. At first it looked as if Paul had been wrong in predicting disaster as the weather was perfect for the journey (Acts 27:13), but then a hurricane began (v.14). It must have been a terrifying experience. Luke writes, ‘[they] finally gave up all hope of being saved’ (v.20).
Yet, Paul kept on trusting in the Lord, telling those on board to ‘have faith in God’, that God was still in control and that he had promised to rescue them (vv.23–25).
It took this disaster for them to listen to Paul. Extraordinarily, Paul the prisoner appears to be completely in charge. He tells them, ‘you really should have listened to me’ (v.21, MSG). He is the one who stops the sailors jumping ship (v.30).
This is a great example of leadership without title or position. The best leaders are able to lead, in whatever circumstances, by influence and persuasion.
The turmoil gave Paul an opportunity to speak about his faith. He takes the opportunity although he must have been suffering greatly from hunger and the effects of the storm.
Paul saw himself as belonging to God (‘the God whose I am’) and being his servant (‘whom I serve’) (v.23). But God was not only his owner and master; Paul trusted God and had a deep assurance of his love. He knew that God wanted the very best for him, as he does for you today.
Paul assured them, ‘Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head’ (v.34). And, ‘after he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat’ (v.35).
In spite of disaster striking, God was in ultimate control: ‘The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan’ (vv.42–43a).
God gave Paul favour in the eyes of people as well as in God’s own eyes. As a result, ‘everyone reached land in safety’ (v.44).
Nothing could stop God from saving Paul and using him to work out his purposes and save lives.
Lord, thank you that you can protect me even when disaster strikes. When things go wrong, help me not to be afraid but rather to keep up my courage and to have faith in you.
Trust in the Lord in the midst of evil and distress2 Kings 18:1-19:13
It is such a relief to read, at last, about a man who ‘trusted in the Lord’ (18:5). Hezekiah ‘trusted in, leaned on and was confident in the Lord’ (v.5, AMP). He put his whole trust in the God of Israel… And God, for his part, held fast to him through all his adventures’ (vv.5–6, MSG).
When Hezekiah became king, one of his first actions was to destroy all the things that prevented the people from obeying God (vv.1–4). Perhaps there are things in your life that are a barrier to you obeying God. Although they may seem vital, there is nothing as vital as obedience to God. God wants to help us to obey him – ask him and he will honour you as he honoured Hezekiah: ‘And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook’ (v.7).
In 701 BC, Hezekiah faced a very powerful enemy in the form of the king of Assyria who mocked and ridiculed him. This story is not fictional; you can read about these historical events not only in the Bible but also in other ancient accounts. In Sennacherib’s account of these events he writes, ‘As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke.’ He speaks arrogantly about Hezekiah being overwhelmed by ‘the terror inspiring splendour of my lordship’.
Sennacherib scorned Hezekiah’s dependence on the Lord (vv.20,22): ‘Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord… he is misleading you when he says, “The Lord will deliver us.”’ (vv.30–32).
Somehow Hezekiah must have won the respect of his people because they followed his instructions: ‘But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.”’ (v.36).
In the face of his powerful enemy, Hezekiah prayed. ‘He tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord’ (19:1). A delegation went to the prophet Isaiah and told him, ‘This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace… pray for the remnant that still survives’ (vv.3–4).
Isaiah’s response was, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard’ (v.6). Not only did Hezekiah himself trust in the Lord, but he also persuaded the people to trust in the Lord.
Over the years, I have written beside this passage a list of the challenges we have faced. It is amazing to look back over the years and see the way in which God has delivered us in so many areas.
Today, whatever challenges you are facing, write them down, put your trust in God, believe that he will be with you and give you success in whatever he asks you to do.
Lord, thank you that I can trust in you in all circumstances. Today, I lay before you all the challenges I am facing… I put my trust in you.
Trust in God when things don’t look good:
2 Kings 18
What seems impossible, God can turn around.
Verse of the Day
‘Hezekiah trusted in the Lord… and the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook’ (2 Kings 18:5,7).
Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.