Trust is like a staff you can lean on as you journey uphill with Me.
If you are trusting in Me consistently,
the staff will bear as much of your weight as needed.
Jesus Calling, January 22
How do I trust God when it seems He didn’t come through?
Have you ever asked this question, especially after a year like 2020? Surely we all have, because life is tough and unpredictable and rarely happens the way we plan. It’s likely you’ve prayed to change something that painfully remained the same. After pleading, even begging, still it seemed that silence was Heaven’s response.
Fighting fear and hopelessness
In this imperfect world, sometimes the rumble of pain moves through us like an earthquake. And our experience can violently oppose the truth we built our life upon. Maybe it was when you lost your job or were served divorce papers. For me, it was when my eleven-month-old daughter, Haven, was diagnosed with malignant brain cancer. Fighting through fear and hopelessness, I questioned why a good God allowed this to happen. Yet there, beneath it all, remained His still, quiet voice whispering for me to trust Jesus.
During that excruciating ten-month, battle-filled journey, God never left my side. But even in His faithfulness, the outcome wasn’t what we prayed for. Haven took her final breath in my arms.
God doesn’t always do what we expect
God, in His wisdom, doesn’t always do what we expect Him to do. So, the idea of trusting Him can be frightening, especially when the ground beneath us gives way and the hands that hold us are the same hands that allowed it to quake. It’s challenging to navigate the confusion of a loving God allowing pain. And not just any pain, but the kind that knocks the wind from your lungs and makes you wonder if you’ll ever breathe again.
I fought to believe that He is always trustworthy. See, it wasn’t just her death that made me question. It was also the fact that for ten months we quoted scripture, worshipped, and prayed for her healing. I’m talking Bible in hand, on our face, around the clock intense focus. That’s roughly 429,120 minutes of spiritual warfare. And yet, after all that, it didn’t end the way I asked.
But it doesn’t have to be as devastating as losing a child to feel that God hasn’t come through for you. It can be as simple as unfulfilled dreams. When we expect things to be different, and then they aren’t, we’re left with a decision to make, even if unconsciously:
Will we move forward with God by trusting Him? Or stay stuck in our pain, questions and disappointment?
Are we more connected to our pain or God?
In this volatile place of unmet expectations, we can become one with our disappointment and take its name as our identity: loss, divorce, infertility. We feel more connected with these words than we do with the hope that lies in the future God promises in Jeremiah 29:11.
If we have the desire to get out of our “stuckness,” here’s what we need to know: trusting God is the only way forward. This may seem like an oversimplified answer to life that is messy, hurtful, and complicated. But to follow Him, we have to trust Him even when we don’t understand Him.
Too often, in hopes of finding some assurance in the uncertainty of life, we attempt to force-fit the God of the universe into tidy boxes small enough for our finite minds to comprehend. We attempt to domesticate God—to make Him tamer, predictable, obedient to our desires. But doing this strips away the very mystery and wonder about Him that brings us peace and security. I’m thankful God isn’t obedient to me because my vision is shortsighted. Yet He intricately knows the good plans He has in store for each of us and makes His decisions accordingly.
This pain is not your end
If we turn our attention to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we may hear the tender words like a whisper in our ear, “This pain is not your end. Keep following Me, and I’ll lead you to good places. Trust Me.”
The voice we listen to in pain determines our destination. Will we incline our ear to the enemy’s lies or to God’s voice as He guides us forward toward His promises? Will we trail behind, allowing pain to settle us in an emotional and spiritual climate that isn’t conducive for growth? The outcome of our life’s journey hinges on our choices. And the Holy Spirit is near to help us make the right ones.
When it’s hard to reconcile pain and a good God, we must remember that the Christian life is a paradox, isn’t it? A binary existence. Grief from one’s pain and joy from Christ’s redemption. The natural and supernatural. Mortal and immortal. Dance partners until the day we enter heaven. This is the goodness of God. We are promised that the negative side of life, the things we don’t understand, will be met with His presence. His joy colliding with weeping. The morning colliding with night. Grace colliding with ache. If we hold tight to His lead as we’re navigating the dark, He’ll help us to trust His steps.
Stacy Henagan is a passionate pastor, speaker, author and annual women’s conference host. With more than twenty-six years of people-building experience, Stacy’s weekly teachings offer inspiring biblical truth and practical application. Stacy and her husband, Casey, are the founders of Keypoint Church in Northwest Arkansas. They have four children: Haven, who they anxiously await to see again in heaven, Holland, Hayes, and Hudson.
You can find her book, Breathe Again, and related resources on her website at stacyhenagan.com.