Over the past several years, I have heard many songs by various Christian artists that deal with the topic of trials and suffering. Many of these songs spring from passages that deal with suffering and the issue of evil and hardship and how God relates to those situations. In some biblical passages, we are allowed to see the outcome and purpose behind the suffering. In others, we are not. And for the people in those situations, and for us, we are called to trust in God.
In some of these recent songs, though, the songwriter does something that is a little different. They seem to almost invite suffering. Within the context of the song, it is usually within the purpose of bringing greater glory to God, so it seems their heart is the right place. However, it kind of comes across to me like they are saying, “Bring it on, God!”
I don’t know about you, but this makes me a little nervous. I think life has enough hardship and sorrow without asking for more. Maybe I am a wimp, but I can’t see myself ever praying, “Bring on the suffering, God.” I do want God to be glorified in my life. I do want God’s best for me and those I love. But God makes me a little nervous. His ways are often mysterious and His ways are not my ways. The ways of God can make us tremble. And it is good to have a healthy fear of the Lord, as long as it is balanced along with fullness of Who God is.
My wife and I were talking about this topic this morning. On Sunday, we sang a Chris Tomlin’s song that contains the line, “God, whatever comes my way, I will trust You.” She mentioned that this is a hard phrase to say. She is right. It’s hard to sing it when there is hardship in your life that you are trying to understand. It is hard to say, when you know that life can bring the unexpected and unwelcomed. It is hard to sing it when You are afraid. However, as she and I discussed, we always need to remember this within the context of Who God is. And even with this song, the line is within the context of the earlier part of the song:
Sovereign in the mountain air
Sovereign on the ocean floor
With me in the calm
With me in the storm
Sovereign in my greatest joy
Sovereign in my deepest cry
With me in the dark
With me at the dawn
In Your everlasting arms
All the pieces of my life
From beginning to the end I can trust You
In Your never-failing love
You work everything for good
God whatever comes my way I will trust You
“Sovereign” by Chris Tomlin | Jason Ingram | Jonas Myrin | Martin Chalk | Matt Redman. © 2012 Said And Done Music; A Thousand Generations Publishing; sixsteps Music; Sixsteps Songs; worshiptogether.com songs; Worship Together Music; Thankyou Music; Sony/ATV Timber Publishing; Open Hands Music; SHOUT! Music Publishing.
Why can we trust God with whatever comes our way? Because He is sovereign. He is with us. He will never leave us. He is with us in joy and sorrow, when it is light and when it is dark. God holds us in His everlasting arms. He loves us with a never failing love. And He works in all of our circumstances to bring forth an ultimate good, even through suffering.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” Romans 8:31-35
The answers are clear: No one or nothing can separate us from the love of God. And He has promised that He will work all things for the good of those who love Him. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
You see, if being able to say, “I trust You,” in whatever comes my way was solely based on my ability to summon up the courage and “have enough faith,” it would be pointless. I am weak and don’t feel very courageous at times. However, if my trust is founded in the fullness of the character of my God, then I am saying, “Based on Who You have revealed Yourself to be, I will trust You.” And for me, wrapped up in my confession of “I will trust You,” is “help me to trust You.” As the father who had come to Jesus exclaimed, “I believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24
So, I may not understand all of Who God is or what He is doing, but if my trust is based on His character and promises, I have a foundation to rest upon. My trust is not based in outcomes, appearances, circumstances, people, or things. My trust is based on the unchanging character of God, His unfailing love, and His promises to work all things for the good of those who love Him. We trust and we pray for more faith. We remind ourselves and each other of the unfailing love of God, Who cares and provides, and suffers with His children.
Together for His glory…