Trusting in God when you don’t know what to do.
When I am faced with difficult life situations, being a Christian and knowing I have a relationship with Jesus is always a comforting reassurance . I cannot imagine ever going back to a place so far away from Him and having to deal with what’s thrown at me by life all on my own again. Difficult and challenging times often do initially bring us closer to Him as we pray and trust in His promises. However, sometimes keeping that faith can be testing when our prayers appear to be unanswered and things aren’t changing or are even getting worse. In my short time as a Christian I’ve found two important things (I’m sure there are plenty more) to remember when trusting in Him at times when nothing seems to be happening and you just don’t know what to do.
1. God’s ways are not my ways
Sometimes life’s challenges don’t end or they even get worse, despite our continued prayers and faith. Over time, it can seem difficult to keep the faith and keep on praying when it doesn’t seem that our prayer is being answered. When we are praying for something to happen or a change in circumstances we need to remember that what we think is best, is not always what God has in mind.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9
I recently read 1 Samuel 14: 1 -14. This tells of a period when King Saul’s army, lacking weapons, were in a bit of a hopeless battle with the Philistines. Jonathan, the son of Saul, tells the young man who carries his weapons to go with him to the Philistines camp. He says if they are seen and the Philistines tell them to wait there, then they will wait, but if the Philistines tell them to come to their camp, it will be a sign from God that they will be victorious and they should go. Jonathan says to his weapons bearer: “Let’s cross over to the camp of those heathen Philistines. Maybe the Lord will help us; if he does, nothing can keep him from giving us the victory, no matter how few of us there are.” Jonathan touches on two points here: maybe God will help them win; and there is nothing God cannot do.
When we are praying for a change in circumstances, we must remember that “nothing can keep him from giving us the victory”, but like Jonathan we do not know if the outcome (victory) is the outcome that will glorify God the most. The Philistines tell Jonathan to come to them and Jonathan and his weapon carrier proceed towards the Philistines’ camp. The result, of course, was a victory for the Israelites. We must approach our requests to God in the same way Jonathan did: Perhaps the Lord will answer my prayer; but whatever His answer I know it will be consistent with His promises. God is bigger and His plans are bigger.
2. Read the Word
Having been brought up in a Catholic in New Zealand I have since realized (and my experience is by no means reflective of other Catholics) that being Catholic was very much culture-based, rather than faith-based and centered on a relationship with Jesus. After attending Catholic high school, I studied law at University and went on to practice commercial and property law. It is no exaggeration to say that the extent of my bible usage was limited solely to the purposes of taking sworn affidavits for clients.
For those who know me, you’ll probably know that I came to have a relationship with Jesus while living in China several years ago (which I always think sounds quite serendipitous given China prohibits many forms of organised religion). If there is one very important thing I learned during my time in China about having a relationship with Jesus it is to read the Word. Or, as I remember a friend in China holding her bible up and saying (read the next part with a Southern American accent), “Ya’ll just gotta get in the Word”.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. Romans 10: 17
If we come to a point where we don’t know what to do, in keeping our faith, we need to remember what God has promised us. The bible is filled with God’s promises. And none of these have or will ever fail.
Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises of the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. Joshua 23:14
Growing up a Catholic, everything I knew about God and who He was came from mass on a Sunday, which was the longest hour of my week, and Religious Education lessons at school, which were so boring that I cannot actually recall a single memory from them. I didn’t know that God had promised me anything. I didn’t know how to pray, other than saying five Hail Mary’s as a punishment for whatever I felt brave enough to disclose to the Priest during confession.
God’s promises include the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us to the truth. God promises us wisdom, fruits of the spirit, healing, forgiveness, prosperity, and peace. I did a google search to see how many promises there are in the bible and got several different figures but most commentators agreed there are too many to list. Meditate on God’s promises. Read them over and over, learn them off by heart and pray.
For the record, I’m still lawyering, but my original affidavit swearing bible no longer sits in the bottom drawer of my desk at work, but now instead, it sits on the table beside my bed – for daily use.
Finally, I wanted to share one thing which I have prayed about since the 1st of September 2007. On this day my father left our family. Quite honestly, at the time our family fell to pieces and it has been the most traumatic event of my life. I did not have much of a relationship with Jesus at the time but I still prayed for him to come back, just in case it worked. Although I worried about my younger brothers, my biggest concern was my Mum all alone as she had relied on my father so much. I did not pray all the time, and there would have been some months when I felt that prayer was hopeless. But during these years, as I became a Christian and grew to appreciate and understand God’s promises, my prayer changed. A year ago, Mum met Ian. The timing was absolutely impeccable as I believe she had just come to a point in life where her reliance was solely in God. I could never have imagined that Mum could be so happy and content. It is very difficult for me to explain this in words, but in Ian, God has answered my prayers in more ways than I could have even imagined. During this 10 and a half years of prayer, (although the first few years didn’t consist of too much praying!), I can look back and see the glorification of God in the whole process and I can see His promises fulfilled. I did not get the instant fix-it I first prayed for, but in the end I got a whole lot more.
I pray that if you are struggling with not knowing what to do about something going on in your life right now that you are empowered to seek out and meditate on His promises for you. And always remember, God is bigger and so are His plans.
Prue is a kiwi (not a fruit, but a person born and bred in New Zealand), she is 40 years old, a part-time lawyer, full-time wife of Reuben and mother of two boys. She is truly blessed to live in a beautiful bay and community called Governors Bay, which is 15 minutes drive from Christchurch City – the second largest city in New Zealand. She and her family have recently moved back to New Zealand from China, much like Angela.