I’ve often wondered if, when Simon and Garfunkel wrote, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, they were thinking of something spiritual, because when I hear this song it reminds me of the many ways God has carried me through various trials and troubles in life.
Having gone through some heartache moments, like I’m sure many of you have as well, there are some truths that run deeper than any pain I’ve felt; things that I know I can rest in despite any hardship. If these were just wishful thinking or some mantra I repeated in hopes it would become reality, I would have given up long ago. But no, these are solid truths that cannot be shaken, because they are from God’s word and the God who states them is trustworthy, true, and loving. These are the things I cling to in the storm and rest in moment by moment.
1. God is with me
As a believer, there are some wonderful promises that have reminded me to listen to what God says is true, and to not listen to my own doubts. This verse in Hebrews 13 is one of those verses that can really change my perspective for the better:
“I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we can confidently say, ‘ The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’ “
There have been books written on just these two verses, and sometimes they are overlooked because something can become so commonplace that we just take it for granted, but there are some great facts about this section in Hebrews that is good to remember. In the original Greek text, the “negatives” within the sentence “I will never leave you nor forsake you” are actually more than in English. I wouldn’t normally digress into a “word study” but this is pretty amazing, because most commentaries will show that the words in this verse are strongly stated.
Believe it or not, there are no less than five negatives in the original language! A literal translation doesn’t even sound grammatically correct, but it is such good news it is worth hearing and is very encouraging. It would read like this: “No, I will not leave thee; no, neither will I not utterly forsake thee.” The reason this is so encouraging to me is because the meaning is strengthened and amplified by all of these negatives! To know that God, Whose promises are true, has promised with such strong language that He will never leave me is the best news I’ve ever heard. When everyone else might leave, He won’t. This is something to build a foundation on. I build my foundation on Him and in Him.
2. God wants me to trust Him
In Psalm 9:10 it says,
“And those who know Your name put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you”.
Knowing that God will never turn away those who seek Him is one of the most beautiful things to me, because when God first started opening my eyes to His love and care, I thought perhaps He wouldn’t accept me. There was a shame for my past, a rejection from others, a fear of His judgement, or maybe all of these. It turns out that God was softening my heart to show me how lovely and wonderful His grace and mercy are, and how He has forgiven me by purchasing me through Christ, His own Son.
He showed me promises like,
” Everyone that the Father gives to me will come to me. If anyone does come to me, I will never send that person away. ” John 6:37
So, for anyone who feels that they cannot come to God because of sin, all they need to do is acknowledge the sin and believe that Jesus has paid for it, by being our Substitute; the one who died in place of us, paying for our sin, and giving us life and forgiveness. Since God has done this then I can trust Him that He has my best interest at heart and has bought me such a precious price that He values me. He has gone through all of this to redeem me, and so that I would see His value and glory and be grateful for this great salvation. Therefore, it bolsters my faith to trust Him more: the God who reached out to me and loves me. He deserves my praise and is so worth trusting!
3. I’m not just trusting “anyone”, but a Wise, Loving and Powerful One
If someone said to me, “I’d like to sell you this car, it runs great and it’s just fine”. But then I saw the hinge of the door shake and heard a lot of squeaking, I’d know that this person wasn’t trustworthy (or, in a sense, loving or wanting the best for me). If he then said, “Ah, well, I’ll try to get it fixed” and he turned to the garage where the mechanics were and no one was there to help, I’d know he didn’t have much “pull” to do anything or actually help me. This is an example of an unwise and powerless person. They don’t know enough to fix the car and they don’t have enough power to find the resources to do anything. And perhaps they don’t even care enough about the situation. This is an example of man; of us. We don’t have all the resources, we don’t see all the possibilities and have the wisdom to decide the best options, and we aren’t powerful enough to change the circumstances. Sometimes we don’t have the energy to care about it either.
But God is and God does.
See, if God wasn’t all three of these qualities ‘” loving, wise and powerful at the same time- we’d be trusting a tyrant who had power but didn’t love, or we’d be trusting a wimp who cared but couldn’t do anything to help, or we’d be trusting some loving person who had no wisdom to know what to do. But God needs to have all three of these qualities, which He does, in order for Him to be trustworthy. His word explains this and it’s one of the greatest truths that calms my heart and causes me to begin to trust Him on a deeper level:
Romans 11:33-36 is a beautiful reminder of how God is wise and in control:
” Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
This verse reminds me that God’s ways are truly inscrutable, which means they are impossible to comprehend because they are infinitely wise and good. The word gets it roots from “Scrutiny” or “scrutinize”: when someone tries to examine or investigate something. God’s wisdom is “so high above us, like the heavens are above the earth”, (Psalm 103:11) that we see how amazingly wise He is by the fact that we, as finite beings, can hardly comprehend it. When I don’t understand a circumstance, which I’m sure happens to everyone, I can rest in knowing that God, who sees all and understands all, is in charge and is, in fact, understanding what I cannot! This puts me at ease because since He is good and powerful and wise. He knows the best way for each circumstance to go ‘” even the bad ones. There was a time when I had lost my job and God knew exactly why this was the best way to orchestrate the circumstances, because the next month I ended up in Europe teaching English! It was amazing how He knew how it would work out! Now that I look back in hind’s sight, seeing that I would be unrightfully fired from my job, but that He would lead me into a fantastic adventure, I can say “Wow, who knew!” God did! And although circumstances don’t always turn into “something better” just knowing that God has our best interest is enough to put my heart at rest, because He is so kind, loving and has something in store that will cause my life, which He owns, to glorify Him in a way that I couldn’t have designed myself!
Now, as I remember the power and wisdom of God, I also lean on the great examples of His loving-kindness. Here’s one that has always been so touching. It’s in Ephesians 2: 1-10:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience'” among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ'”by grace you have been saved'” and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
This section in Ephesians is simply amazing to me because God loved me before I existed. This is, again, too wonderful for me to understand, yet it is true ‘” God planned to create me, save me, forgive me and love me, all within His perfect purposes and plans! Wow! He showed His mercy and grace by giving me a new life, a forgiven status, being fully accepted by Him even though I don’t deserve it. Then, not only has He forgiven me, He has even “seated me with Him in the heavenly places”. He has promised to, “in the coming ages” bring me into His presence, to worship and adore and love him back, which I could never do on my own, but only through Him changing me and His Spirit touching my heart! Really, these are the kind of truths that can wipe away the sorrow of today’s circumstances, and give me a hope, a joy and a peace that surpasses all understanding.
I hope that you know these aren’t just “nice sentences” that people memorize or talk about, but that God’s own voice speaks through to us here in these verses. His word is alive and active, and it is powerful to save and to be our anchor during life’s trials and difficulties. These above verses are things that I need to cling to and I ask God to give me the strength to rest in the truth that is stated within them. To know that He is with me, He is in control, and He is loving, kind, powerful and wise. To know it, not just in my head but in my heart and soul. And to live it out as a fact in my life. And then to rejoice that God has shown me His character and has given me His word and the promises that are contained in His word. Many times people ask “What is God thinking or what is His will?” Well, He has put so much into His word and what He tells us about Himself, that it would take more than a lifetime to discover it, so we can start here and end here. He has been so kind as to reveal all His promises to us, and I pray that He opens my eyes more and more to the amazing truths that He has given me about His kindness, wisdom and power.
If this topic interests you and you’d like to read some fantastic and grounded books on the subject, here’s my Top-10 List of books on the subject of God’s goodness, wisdom and power.
1. “Trusting God, Even When Life Hurts” by Jerry Bridges (Nav Press 1988) www.navpress.com
2. “No Condemnation In Christ Jesus” by Octavius Winslow (First published in 1853 / Banner of Truth 1991)
3. “The Valley of Vision ‘” a Collection of Puritan Prayers” (The Banner of Truth Trust 1975)