Choosing to Believe
Choosing to Believe
One of the most difficult things that we will ever experience is to trust God during times of adversity. Likewise choosing to trust God is equally as difficult. Trust is a matter of faith and faithfulness is one attribute listed in the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22–23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. The fruit of the Spirit is a work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can make the Word of God, live in our hearts and create faith. We make a choice to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts or we choose to be ruled by our feelings of: anxiety – about the CAT scan we are going to have, or the resentment – for the brother that has hurt us, or the grief that we are experiencing. John Newton author of “Amazing Grace” watched his wife died of cancer over many months.
John Newton wrote the following as he recounted those terrible days. “I believe it was about two or three months before her death, when I was walking up and down the room, offering disjointed prayers from a heart torn with distress, that a thought suddenly struck me, with unusual force, to this effect – the promises of God must be true; surely the Lord will help me, if I am willing to be helped. It occurred to me that we are often led from an undue regard for our feelings, to indulge that unprofitable grief which both our duty and our peace require us to resist to the utmost of our power. I instantly said aloud, Lord I am helpless indeed, in myself, but I hope I am willing, without reservation, that you will help me.”
Let’s look at one statement that John Newton made: “The promises of God must be true; surely the Lord will help me, if I am willing to be helped.” What promises? God loves you, John 3:16 and He is always there to help us, Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” During those months John tended his usual duties as a minister and he was able to say: “Through the whole of my painful trial, I attended all my stated and occasional services, as usual; and a stranger would scarcely have discovered, either by my words are looks that I was in trouble. The long affliction did not prevent me from preaching a single sermon; and I preached on the day of her death. I likewise preached 3 times while she lay dead in the house. And after she was deposited in the vault, I preached her funeral sermon.”
How was John Newton helped? He chose to allow God to help him. He realized it was his duty to resist an inordinate amount of grief. He realized it was sinful to wallow in self-pity. He turned to the Lord, indicating his willingness to be helped. The spirit of God helped him by making needed truths of Scripture alive to him. He chose to trust God he turned to God in an attitude of dependence. He chose. Prayer and the word of God were the critical elements of his being helped by God.
David said in: Psalm 56:4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? David also said in: Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
There is no conflict between saying, “I will not be afraid” and asking God to deliver us from our fears. David recognized it was his responsibility to choose to trust God but also that he was dependent upon the Lord for the ability to do it. We have the responsibility to become more like Christ. We are dependent upon the Holy Spirit for the enabling power to do it. The same principle applies in the realm of trusting God. We are responsible to trust God in times of adversity, but we are dependent upon the Holy Spirit to enable us to do so.
Trusting God does not mean that we do not experience pain. We believe that God is at work through the occurrence of our pain for our unique benefit. We work through the Scriptures regarding His sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness. We ask Him to use those Scriptures to bring peace and comfort to our hearts and lives. We do sin against God by allowing distrustful and hard thoughts about Him. We may have to say, “God I don’t understand but I trust You.”
What times in your life have you failed to make the choice to trust in God during adversity?