By Jennifer Hudson Taylor
When unexpected circumstances 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.
Adversity is hard to endure and can be even harder to understand. If God were really in control, why would He allow the tragic auto accident or crucial job loss? How could He permit cancer in a loved one or the death of a child? Grappling with His concern for us we ask, "Why is God allowing this?" or "What have I done wrong?"
In an effort to strengthen his own trust in God during a time of adversity, Jerry Bridges began a lengthy Bible study on the topic of God's sovereignty. What he learned changed his life, and he now shares the fruit of that study in Trusting God. As you begin to explore the scope of God's power over nations, and the detailed lives of individuals, you'll begin to acknowledge His loving control. And as you come to know Him better, you'll find yourself trusting Him more completely - even when life hurts.
Why I Read this Book
Before I get to my review of this book, I want to share my reason for reading it in the first place. Due to so many unexpected difficulties in my life, I was in a place of questioning God's love. Unlike some, I have never questioned God's sovereignty and existence, and I was never the prodigal child. I turned my life over to Christ at age 9 and followed Him through my teen and college years and into my adult life. I always strived to do what was right to the best of my ability. In spite of this, trouble found me through loved ones' poor decisions, finances, medical issues of loved ones, and situations that were truly out of my control. I had to finally accept this, as I prefer to be in control.
I came to a place where I felt like God loved everyone else, but me. He loved them so much more because they seemed to be blessed more than me--in everything--or so it seemed. Their testimonies were not an inspiration of what God could do for me, but a painful reminder of what He refused to do for me. He was my bestfriend, my everything, how could He hurt me like this? Yes, Christ died on the cross for me, but He died for everyone and I just happened to be included. I know how illogical this sounds, but feelings and emotions do not always follow logic. It was my "Job" moment. The few Christians I confided in were much like Job's friends, they criticized and judged me and brought up all my failings so I withdrew even more. If God had allowed some serious heartbreaking things to happen to me once, I didn't trust Him not to make me go through it again or something just as heartbreaking. I won't go into the details of all the things that brought me to this state of mind and spiritual heartbreak, but suffice it to say that this book helped bring some perspectives back to my thought process and helped open the door to my healing.
This book doesn't sugar coat reality and it deals with hard truths that we have to accept whether or not we understand why God has allowed some tragic events to happen to us and/or our loved ones. First, the author lays the groundwork that God is sovereign over everything. Next, he covers God's love for us as individuals and as humankind. When we question God's reason for allowing things to happen, we question His sovereign power, authority and wisdom. We cannot understand all His reasons, because we cannot know and understand all that He knows. Our faith requires trusting God with what we don't know and cannot understand. Trusting God is very clear in getting this point across.
Since this book has so many difficult concepts to accept, I had to read it in slow increments and digest each section separately. Even though I experienced feelings of anger, frustration and defeat, there were other sections that inspired me with hope again. By the time I reached the end, it succeeded in making me want to trust God as I used to, but this time with a more realistic and mature expectation. I highly recommend this book for people who have been through difficult times and who struggle with questioning and trusting God.
Some notes and quotes I have highlighted from Trusting God
- God is completely sovereign. God is infinite in wisdom. God is perfect in love.
- If we are going to learn to trust God in adversity, we must believe that just as certainly as God will allow nothing to subvert his glory, so He will allow nothing to spoil the good He is working out in us and for us.
- God did not simply create and then walk away. He constantly sustains that which He created.
- As God's rule is invincible, so it is incomprehensible.
- Just because God does not act as we think He should, we conclude He cannot act as we think He would.
- We are to establish our beliefs by the Bible, not our experiences.
- God sovereignly uses the most ordinary circumstances to accomplish His purpose.
- Our first priority in times of adversity is to honor and glorify God by trusting Him. We tend to make our first priority the gaining of relief from our feelings of heartache or disappointment or frustration.
- "A bruised reed will not break." (Matthew 12:20)
- Let us not be guilty of breaking a bruised reed (a heavy heart) by insensitive treatment of the heavy doctrine of the sovereignty of God.
- "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4)
- Just as we might not misconstrue God's sovereignty so as to make people mere puppets, so we must not press man's freedom to the point of limiting God's sovereignty.
- "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, and we may follow the words of this law." (Deut 29:29)
- Our duty, then, is to obey the "things revealed," that is, the will of God as revealed in Scripture for every area of life.
- For those experiencing the events recorded in the biblical narratives, God's hand was no more apparent to them in those events than His hand is apparent to us today in ours.
- There is a vast difference between acceptance and either resignation or submission.
- Our duty is found in the revealed will of God in the Scriptures. Our trust must be in the sovereign will of God, as he works in the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives for our good and His glory.
- God knows exactly what He intends we become and He knows exactly what circumstances, both good and bad, are necessary to produce that result in our lives.
- We must learn to trust God when He doesn't tell us why, when we don't understand what He is doing.
- If we are to honor God by trusting Him, and if we are to find peace for ourselves, we must come to the place where we can honestly say, "God, I do not understand. I will just trust you."
- "There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord." (Proverbs 21:30)
- God's wisdom, then, is greater than the wisdom of any of our adversaries, whether they be of other people or the Devil himself. Therefore, we should not fear what they seek to do, or even succeed in doing to us.
- We must see our circumstances through God's love, instead of, as we are prone to do, seeing God's love through our circumstances.
- Instead of mistakenly looking for God's love in tokens of happiness, we should look for them in His faithful and persistent work to conform us to Christ.
- Another area of our lives that God must continually be at work on is our tendency to rely on ourselves instead of on Him.
- God uses adversity to loosen our grip on those things that are not true fruit. A severe illness or death of someone dear to us, the loss of material substance, the tarnishing of our reputation, the turning aside of friends, or the dashing of our cherished dreams on the rocks of failure, cause us to think about what is really important in life.
- We live in a world that worships independence and self-reliance.
- He will cause you to feel keenly your dependence on Him. He will often blight the very thing we feel confident in so that we will learn to depend on Him, not on ourselves.