Trusting God in Difficult Times

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It’s one thing to trust God when life is smooth sailing, but what about trusting God in difficult times?

Life is a paradoxical blend of extremes.

Joy and sorrow. Love and hate. Companionship and loneliness. Energized and exhausted. Beauty and ugliness. Health and disease. Peace and war. Birth and Death.

When life is good, it can be really good.

And when life is hard, it can be really hard.

Trials vary in intensity and duration. From irritating and annoying to heartbreaking and devastating.

From a broken bone to a broken home, all struggles have this in common – they’re unavoidable. They often cause us to feel insecure, fearful, and even despair at times.

Christians aren’t exempt from trials. In fact, Jesus told us in this world, we will have trouble. (Jn. 16:33)

Anyone who promises problem-free living after becoming a Christian is not speaking Biblical truth. Don’t entertain their message, and whatever you do, don’t pass along that false ideology to others.

What kind of trials can we expect? James 1:2 tells us “many kinds”.

It would be impossible to compose an exhaustive list, but here are a few examples that come to mind:

Mindsets that hinder trusting God in the midst of trials.

There are a few mindsets we need to intentionally NOT dwell on or become consumed with when we walk through hard times. I can speak from experience regarding the futility of each one. See if you can, too.

1. A quest to answer the question, “Why?”

“Why is this happening?” Why is this happening TO ME?” “Why is this happening to me NOW?” “What did I do to deserve this?”

We want to know the “why” behind our adversity.

God invites us to pour out our hearts to Him. We can certainly ask Him, “Why”, but He may not choose to reveal the answer.

There comes a point when we need to stop dwelling on “the why” of our situation and focus on the One who carries us through hardships and ministers to our hearts in the midst of adversity and suffering.

2. It’s not fair!

This train of thought will keep us stuck for sure.

We’ll never find an acceptable reason regarding the fairness of our hardships and suffering.

Dwelling on the unfairness of our situation will only perpetuate self-pity and self-focus.

One way to shake us out of this dead-end thought process is to remember something else that isn’t fair… The fact that a Holy and righteous God would suffer a torturous death for a sinner such as me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in God

3. Focusing too much on yourself and your problems!

I was blessed to have had a wonderful mentor in my life, Wilda. I talk about her often because her impact on my life was tremendous.

Wilda was an 80-year-old dynamo when we met. She loved the Lord fiercely, was a prayer warrior if I ever met one, and she taught me much when it comes to striving to keep Jesus at the center of life. She’s now at home with the Lord, and I miss her terribly.

When I shared my struggles with Wilda she’d always say, “Jesus never said life would be easy, Honey! Get your focus off yourself and your problems, and start asking the Lord to show you what He’s trying to teach you through this!”

There is so much wisdom in her advice.

First, it gets our focus off ourselves and places it on our Source where our help comes from – the Lord! Secondly, it fosters a teachable heart, ready and willing to hear what He wants to teach us as we walk through adversity.

It’s a bold, powerful prayer, and one not easy to pray with sincerity. It requires humility and vulnerability, and it also paves the way for transformation as we position ourselves to hear from and then yield to the authority of the Holy Spirit.

Whatever God reveals in response, you can be sure it will be for our good and His glory.

What does Proverbs 3:5-6 say about trusting God?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV).

You may have heard this verse before, or perhaps you have it memorized. Whether today is the first time you’ve heard it or the 237th time, I’m asking the Lord to breathe a fresh and personal meaning into your heart, mind, and life as we dissect it together.

Trust in the Lord

We have a choice in who or what we place our trust in.

Consider the One Proverbs 3 encourages us to place our trust.

  • He loves you so intensely He died that you may live. (Romans 5:8)
  • He knows you so intimately He knows the number of hairs on your head. (Luke 12:7)
  • He promised to never leave or forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5)
  • He is faithful, promising new mercies to you every morning. (Lam. 3:23)
  • He speaks only the truth. (Numbers 23:19)
  • He protects you from evil. (2 Thes. 3:3)

The King of Kings holds the world in His hands. IN HIM we can anchor our hearts to trust above all else.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6

With all your heart

Trust is a heart issue.

And the psalmist tells us to trust Him with “all your heart” – not select portions of it.

That means we don’t trust Him selectively with certain issues we’re comfortable surrendering to Him while clinging onto others with a death grip to manage in our own way.

For example, “Lord I trust you for my salvation because I know I can’t do that for myself. I can handle my finances, however, and I have a master plan from now to retirement.”

God doesn’t want us to trust Him selectively; He wants us to trust Him wholeheartedly.

Trusting God with all your heart means we don’t hope He’s worthy of our trust, we know He’s worthy of our trust.

And lean not on your own understanding

Our decision to trust in the Lord may be a heart issue, however, it’s not one to be made based on emotion alone, or based on our ability to understand.

I don’t know about you, but with most things in my life, I like to know and understand the plan. I prefer predictability and order, and I love a good outline, complete with bullet points. (And bullet points to clarify those bullet points if needed!)

Life doesn’t come at us like an outline, however. Here’s a video where I further develop this idea.

Ever hear trials in life referred to as “a storm”? I have, and it’s a great analogy.

Sometimes we can see a storm brewing on the horizon and we can make advance preparations to brace ourselves and take cover. Other times storms hit without warning. Like a tornado, they touch down in a precise area and move with great force haphazardly while leaving a path of destruction.

Storms are scary. Destructive. Painful. We look for and need relief as we hang on for dear life, wondering when on Earth we’ll get to the other side of it.

it brings comfort to know we don’t need to go through a storm in life alone. We may not have all the answers or understand the why or how long, but we can know the Lord is with us, will minister to us, and bring relief as only He can – in the very eye of a storm.

In all your ways submit to Him.

Notice it doesn’t read “in some of your ways”? The verse reads, “In all your ways.”

Trust requires surrender.

Surrender to the fact that He is the One who curates the outline of my life, right down to the last bullet point, not me.

Surrender to His authority as the One who knows all, sees all, and is in all places at all times. He is sovereign over all that is seen and unseen – and He is sovereign over every detail in my life.

When our children were younger and there was a power struggle of sorts between what they wanted, and what I wanted them to do, I had a favorite way to stop the struggle and cause a reset in the situation.

I’d look them square in the eye and ask them, “Who’s the Mommy?”

That reality check was enough to put the issue of authority back in balance.

This mental reset can be applied to ourselves In the midst of our authority issues at times. We can stop and ask, “Who is the ultimate authority?” Reality check – it’s not us.

God is God, and I am not.

And He will make your paths straight.

As we apply the truth of Proverbs 3:5-6 to our life, we’re promised our paths will be straight.

Not easy. Not short. Not rosy. Not always the one we would have chosen.


He will direct our paths.

Do not focus on your performance as you navigate through difficult circumstances.

When I’m going through a difficult storm in life, sometimes it’s all I can do to breathe and survive.

I’ve been through storms so intense that I couldn’t even focus to read Scripture. I’ve been so distraught that I could scarcely mutter, “Help me, Jesus” during intense suffering.

It’s not YOUR PERFORMANCE that ensures your safety through difficult circumstances or seasons in life! It’s not about you not having enough faith, praying hard enough, being good enough, reading the Bible enough!

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. Jer. 17:7

It’s not at all about you being good enough!

Sometimes we beat ourselves up for not having enough faith… not praying more often… not reading our Bible more… When waves from a storm pummel against us, let’s not add to our plight by beating ourselves up! (Know that the enemy will tempt you to do exactly this, so don’t be surprised when these taunting thoughts come!)

When an adult holds onto a child’s hand as they cross the street, the child’s safety is not reliant on his or her ability to hold securely onto the adult’s hand. The burden of responsibility to keep the child safe is on the adult.

So it is true with our Savior. It’s HIM holding onto you as you navigate through storms in life.

Earlier in this post I referred to the beginning of John 16:33 when Jesus told his followers that in this world, you will have trouble.

Be encouraged by the second part of John 16:33 which reads, “But take heart! I have overcome the world!

He is worthy of our trust.

pin trusting God in hard times

In his book, “The Case for the Real Jesus”, the atheist turned Christian, Lee Strobel said, “Faith is only as good as the one to whom it’s invested.” Well said, Mr. Strobel.

Trust the One who has overcome the world to overwhelm your heart, and trust Him – wholeheartedly.

Proverbs 3:5-6 provides great insight regarding trusting God when we experience trials and suffering.

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    1. AMEN! Even though we know it to be true, it’s not always easy. Sometimes I find myself praying, “Oh for grace to trust Him more”, just like the words from the hymn “Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus” encourages us to do. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment.

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