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Freedom To Trust Part 4

Distrust is the confident expectation that another individual’s motives, intentions, and behaviors are sinister and harmful to one’s own interests.

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Have you ever felt like someone was out to get you? Like whatever you did, it was never good enough? That you were never good enough?

Story of my life, And it wasn’t paranoia. It was hurt. It was shame. It was regret. And because I felt those things, because I felt like I was broken beyond repair, I hid from God and I blamed him for every bad thing in my life.

Kinda like Job.

It must have been confusing for him, to be on top of the world, have everything a person could ever need, then in a very short time lose it all. Add to that his “friends” coming against him – oh I’m sorry I meant coming to “comfort” him. Notice the “air quotes,”

When people are hurt, they don’t need to be reminded of all the reasons why something bad could be happening. They need to be reminded that God loves them and is for them, not against them. Even if they are wrong. Even if they did mess up. God can’t love you any more or less than he does right now. No matter what you or I do – God is still love, still unchanging, still waiting for us to trust him.

When life gets tough, sometimes, if you’re like me, you might remember your Sunday School lessons on Job. A righteous guy, a persecuted man, someone who went through tough times and never wavered. But if you read it for yourself, you will see something different. He actually did waver. His faith was tested, and the result was, he stopped trusting God. Don’t believe me? Here are the words right from Job’s own mouth –

Job 9:14-16 – How then can I answer God or choose my arguments against him? Even if I were right, I could not answer. I could only beg my judge for mercy. If I summoned him and he answered me, I do not believe he would pay attention to what I said.

In these verses, you begin to see the seeds of doubt in Job’s words. He is beginning to doubt God’s character because of the things that happened to him.

Job lost trust because of his circumstances – he focused on himself and therefore his thoughts about the nature and character of God were corrupted. He couldn’t see past where he was so he couldn’t see God for who he is.

The things Job said about God, and his attitude toward his friends show that Job was spiraling downward, moving through deeper and deeper stages of distrust. Job went from simple doubts about God’s intentions to suspicions that God’s motives were not exactly pure. He began to see God as an enemy!

16:9 – His anger tears at me, he harasses me, he gnashes his teeth at me, my enemy pierces me with his eyes.

16:12 – I was at ease, but he shattered me, he seized me by the scruff of the neck and smashed me to pieces. He set me up as his target.

Here, Job, in his own mind, had his doubts confirmed and they turned into suspicion – now instead of just doubting who God is, Job is openly suspicious about his motives as well. Suspicion is the opposite of trust – it is distrust without any underlying proof, and if continued leads to anxiety and fear toward God.

We can see Job moving in this direction in the following verses –

17:1 – My spirit is broken. My days are extinguished. A graveyard awaits me.

17:6 – He has made me an object of scorn; I have become a man people spit at!

17:11 – My days have slipped by; my plans are ruined, even things dear to my heart.

17:15 – Where is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?

Job’s deteriorating mental and spiritual condition led to fears and anxiety. You can hear the anxiety and fear in the words he says – he was inconsolable. He was beginning to think that his life was wasted, that all his years amounted to nothing, and that death was at hand.

When anxiety and fear rule our hearts, we then take steps to protect ourselves from further harm.

19:4 – Even if it is true that I have sinned, my mistake concerns only me.

19:6 – It is God who has wronged me!

19:10-11 – He tears me down on every side. He uproots my hope like a tree. His anger burns against me, he regards me as an enemy.

27:6 – I will cling to my righteousness and will never let it go. My conscience will not accuse me as long as I live!

Job closed himself off from the goodness of God. Instead of seeing him as a mighty fortress, a strong tower, a place of shelter and rest, Job saw God as the enemy and he started putting up walls to insulate himself from further harm.

Next time I’ll share a bit of my story, and God’s response to Job. If you know are feeling stuck right now, if you don’t know what’s next or even if there is a next, don’t give up! This is not where the story ends – for Job, for me or for you!

 

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Freedom To Trust Part 3

I have faith in God – I know I’m saved! But my history shows that I have not trusted God enough. I have trusted myself and other things more.

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Here’s one of the worst things I’ve ever done – When I was in high school, I was on a summer mission trip to Utah. We went to help a small Baptist church survey the town it was in, start bible studies, and do some door to door evangelism. It was really hard, since, you know, Mormons.

One day a few of us were walking along a dusty side road. It was so hot we almost couldn’t stand it. In the distance, we saw two people walking toward us – black slacks, white shirts, ties. Mormon missionaries! As we approached each other, we saw them pointing at us so we stopped and started a conversation.

They asked us what we were doing, and we explained the nature of our mission trip. I remember saying these words – “We are just out telling the good news about Jesus.” One of them laughed and asked why we would want to do that. We tried to explain who Jesus is to us, but they mocked us and told us we were destined to fail. Which made me mad. So, I took matters into my own hands.

I started mocking them – I asked how hard their job was, being in Mormon-land and all. I expressed my belief that they must be the worst missionaries of all time because instead of being sent to a place that really needed them, they stayed where all the Mormons already were. I ventured a guess that it was either that or their parents were wealthy and paid off a church official so they could stay close to home.

All the while, I was stepping a few steps forward, a few steps to the side, positioning them right where I wanted them to be – in a giant mound of fire ants. When they were both standing right in the fire ants, I said, “well, gotta go!” And my friends and I ran off. About 100 yards down the road, we turned back toward them – they were jumping all around, swatting at their legs, kicking their shoes off and yelling and screaming – and my friends and I were laughing at what we did to them!

Why is this one of the worst thing I’ve ever done? Because, I didn’t think “this is someone God loves,” I thought “this is someone that needs to be taught a lesson.” I didn’t think “this is God’s creation with a future and a purpose.” I thought “this person is making fun of my religion.” I didn’t think that they were as important to God as I was so I took matters into my own hands – because I didn’t trust God to be who he is and to be able to do what he says he can do.

How incredibly prideful and arrogant is that? And that is the root of distrust – pride and arrogance. Thinking that my motives are pure, that I am innocent, that I am above blame and reproach and that God is not!

Next time we will see how Job reacted to God while being tormented by Satan. We’ll investigate whether he was able to keep it all together, or whether he became prideful and arrogant – whether he was able to trust God in the mist of his trials, or whether he lost trust in God and started blaming him for everything.

In the meantime – think of a time in your life when you have had struggles – how did you react? Did you think God was punishing you? Or did you trust him to see you through?