When You Don’t Feel Like Trusting
This morning we are going to continue our series on trusting God. Over the last two Sundays we have covered two of the more common times we need to keep our trust in God strong. We talked about “Trusting God in Life’s Changes.” And last week we talked about “Trusting God Through Trouble.”
This week, I think it is very important that we acknowledge the fact that sometimes whatever the problem, whether it’s good times or bad times, the reason we don’t trust God is we just don’t feel like it. So that’s my question today. How do you trust God when you don’t feel like trusting God?
I can stand here and talk about trusting God in this circumstance or that circumstance, the good and the bad. That’s great on a Sunday. But what do you do on Monday or Tuesday when you know you should trust God, maybe for the first time or maybe for the thousandth time. But that day you just don’t feel like it. You feel too tired. You feel too worried or you feel too overwhelmed. It just feels too complicated. “I don’t feel like trusting God right now.”
If you’re new to a life of faith or just trying to figure that out, this is something you’re going to face a thousand times. And likewise if you who have been living a life of faith for many years you know what I’m talking about. Again and again you come up against this thing of faith and feeling. How do you trust when you don’t feel like it?
This morning I first want to take a few minutes to remind you of some basic truths that you must remember if you’re going to trust God even when you don’t feel like it. Then I want to take some time to talk about some specific feelings that all of us have in life and God’s diagnosis, God’s answer for trusting him when we face those very specific kinds of feelings.
So let’s get down to it. What does God say that you and I can do when we don’t feel like trusting? We’re all going to feel this way sometimes. What can I do?
1. I can remember that trust is not an emotion.
I don’t have to feel like trusting in order to trust. Because trust is not an emotion. It’s not like I have to get up this feeling of feeling closer to God, feeling really spiritual, or feeling really sentimental in order to trust God. It’s not a feeling. It’s an action. So however you’re feeling you can still trust.
Jesus talked to his first followers about this the night before he died. He knew the next day he was going to be hanging on a cross and they would feel like everything had been lost. So the night, before he talked to them about the difference between trust and feeling, action and feeling. John 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God trust also in me.” Jesus said you’re going to feel this way but however you feel don’t let that overwhelm you. Decide to trust whatever the circumstance is.
So you trust God first of all by remembering that trust is not an emotion. The second thing you do is this…
2. You set your heart on God’s love for you.
You realize whatever the circumstances you’re having, whatever the feelings you’re having, God loves you.
I love these verses from the book of Ephesians, Ephesians 3:17-18 “I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand as all God’s people should how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love really is.” Don’t miss that.
I know some people honestly feel ashamed to trust God. They feel like they’ve gotten themselves into a mess and they’ve got to get themselves out of the mess until they can trust God again.
No! That’s when you need God’s love more than ever. So you recognize he loves me even through this.
Whatever you’re going through, however you might feel, even in these circumstances that I don’t understand, whether I feel like trusting or don’t feel like trusting the truth is God loves you to matter what. His love is wider, longer, higher and deeper than any circumstance. Set your heart of love on God. That’s what you do when you don’t feel like trusting.
Then there’s third thing that you and I can do.
3. Set your mind on things that which will last.
We have to remember that the circumstances of this world are temporary. In the midst of those circumstances we must set our minds on that which is eternal; that which you know will last. Things like God’s love for you and the eternity of heaven. So you set your mind on what’s really real. And what seems real to us is the present circumstance. But what is really real is the eternity that God has planned for us.
Paul says it this way in Colossians 3:1, “Since you’ve been raised to a new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven where Christ sits at the right hand of God in the place of honor and power.”
So you set your mind on what’s really real. And what seems real to us is the present circumstance. But what is really real is the eternity that God has planned for us.
Then there’s a final thing you do. You want to make it through when you don’t feel like trusting remember….
4. You don’t face it alone.
Don’t face it alone. You’re not meant to face it alone. None of us are meant to face it alone. We go into a situation and we focus on ourselves and we try to make it through all by ourselves and when we fall flat on our face we wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”
It’s not what’s wrong with you. It’s the direction you’re going. We’re meant to not focus on ourselves, we’re meant to focus on God and others. God means for us to not face life alone. He means for us to find strength from each other.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 says “Two people can resist an attack that would defeat one person alone. A rope made of tree cords is hard to break.”
Here’s the point. Maybe today you are at the end of your rope. All you have left is a thread of faith. And you wonder how am I going to make it? If you’ll take your thread of faith and you add it to somebody else’s thread of faith and maybe just one more, you’ll be amazed at the strength that God can give you. Stop trying to make all by yourself. Recognize that when we work together God strengthens us. It’s amazing what God can do with what little you give him when you try to not do it alone.
Don’t face it alone. Set your mind on what will last. Set your heart on God’s love for you. And remember that trust is not an emotion. That’s the process. Those are the keys that God gives us any time I don’t feel like trusting.
But the truth of the matter is there’s a lot of reasons we don’t feel like trusting. So what I want to do is spend just a few minutes sort of like we go in and we sit down with God and He’s the doctor and He says, “I want to give you a diagnosis. You’re feeling this way? Here’s the diagnosis. Here’s what you do in order to trust when you’re feeling this way. Here’s my prescription for you, medicine for your soul.”
For instance, how do you trust when you’re anxious? God has a prescription. You find it in Philippians 4:6-7. Listen. “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying pray. You let petition and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of our lives.” You pray.
What do you pray about? You pray about what you’re worried about. I don’t know why it is, we beat around the bush with God a lot of times. We come saying, “I’ve got this worry but first I’m going to pray for all the missionaries in every country of the world.” Then finally we get to what we’re worried about. No. Talk about what you’re anxious about first. “God here it is.” Give to Him and then listen. Because He’s got some encouraging words, some graceful words for you, to help you, to strengthen you when you’re anxious.
The answer when you’re worried is to turn your worries into prayers. The minute you do that you’ve decided I’m not just going to worry. I’m going to trust. I’m going to trust God even with this worry by turning it into a prayer. That’s what God says to do. When you’re anxious, when you’re worried, you decide to pray.
How about trusting when you’re afraid? And when I say afraid I’m talking about an actual circumstance. Worries, anxieties… studies show that ninety, ninety five percent of what you and I worry about is never going to happen.
But things we’re afraid of - I’m talking about genuine circumstances. Some of you for instance, you’re worried about losing your job. And you may or you may not. It’s an anxiety that you have.
Others of you, you did lose your job recently or maybe it was months ago. You’re afraid. You’re afraid of what’s going to happen to you family, you’re afraid of what’s going to happen to your finances, you’re afraid of what’s going to happen to your future. You’ve got some genuine circumstances that you’re facing that brings with it legitimate fears.
Fear comes when circumstances cause us to feel trapped. And it feels to us like there’s no way out. It’s what in the Bible we call the Red Sea experience. You remember what happened. Moses was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt out of slavery and they come to the Red Sea and they can’t cross. They look behind them and they see the Egyptian army coming their way. They’re trapped. There’s no way out. Have you ever felt like that? You feel trapped. It seems like there is no way out. You stand face to face with fear.
How do you trust when you feel afraid? There’s an amazing interchange that happens between the people and Moses and God there on the shores of the Red Sea. I want to walk you through it. It shows us what God says about how to trust when we feel afraid.
First, the people. They were afraid. They come to Moses and say, “Moses, what did you do to us? We would have rather been slaves than been brought out here in the desert to die.”
Moses to his credit could have blamed them back. But he didn’t do that. Instead he says in Exodus 14:13 “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the Lord rescue you.”
To Moses’ credit he had the humility to point them to God. That was the good thing. But it’s interesting that God had a little bit different answer. Listen just a few verses later. “Then the Lord said to Moses ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving.’” Moses is saying stay where you are. God is saying get moving.
That’s the answer when you’re afraid. Fear paralyzes us. So you get moving. You take a step in God’s direction.
Take a step in the direction of what only God can do. You’ve got a choice when you feel trapped. You can sit still and stew about what you can’t do. You can try your hardest to do something that you in your own power can do. Or you can take a step in the direction of what only God can do. As you head towards what only God can do in your life, that breaks the power of fear. That breaks the paralysis of fear.
I want you to hear the story of a person who faced this recently.
Two weeks ago one of our church members, Mame Ward asked for prayers for her friend Bob during the prayer time here at church. Bob had suffered a heart attack the day before on Saturday, was undergoing a heart cath surgery on Sunday, and was likely facing open heart surgery on the following Wednesday. She filled out a prayer card for him to be added to our prayer chain, as well as having added him to the prayer chains of many friends' churches and synagogues.
When Mame got home from church, she immediately copied all the information both the typed info, fill-in the blanks, and a large portion of the notes she took from the sermon I delivered, the first one in this series, "Trusting God in Difficult Times." She read some of it to Bob’s wife Mickie to help calm her down before she returned to the hospital that day. She did listen and she calmed down. She quietly tucked the sermon notes into Mickie’s purse as off she went to the hospital.
Later that night coming home from the hospital Mickie again stopped by the house to say that Bob had been really anxious really fearful in the face of his upcoming surgery and she didn't know what to do for him. She wasn't sure how to comfort him. And as God would have it, she found those same notes that Mame had slipped into her purse and started reading them to him. Bob listened intently and there in the midst of his fear Bob decided to take a step toward God and trust His promises. Mickie said the change in Bob was almost immediate and was simply amazing. God's promise of always being there for us, in all things and in all situations, and trusting in that promise, laid a blanket of peace and hope over him. He felt God's healing and peace and he told his doctors that very thing.
And it gets better! The catherization had showed that one half of his heart was badly damaged and no more stents would help. A number of cardiologists determined that open heart surgery was their only option. That surgery was scheduled for that Wednesday. But shortly before the surgery was to happen his lead doctor determined that the damaged heart was recovering, healing itself, so much so that the doctors were simply amazed at this change. So, at the 11th hour, the doctors decided to put additional stent(s ) in Bob's heart in hopes of opening it up to pumping more blood through and creating more healthy tissue.
Thank you Mame and Bob and Mickie for allowing me to share their story. Bob came home from the hospital last Sunday and is continuing his recovery. What a testimony to the power of prayer and to what God can do if we trust in Him and confess our faith in Him.
So what step do you need to take today? In the midst of your fear take a step toward God. Trust Him to do what only He can do.
3. How do you trust when you’re stubborn?
I tried to come up with a nicer word. In the Bible it’s “stiff necked.” That’s the word they use today we use “hard headed.” Stubborn!
We all face this in our lives. It’s easy for some of us to admit. For others of us it’s very difficult to admit. But there is a stubbornness in us that keeps us from doing what we know is right for us, what is best for us. We see that all through our lives in the way that we diet, the way that we eat, the way we do all kinds of things. It also comes in the way that we trust. How do you deal with this one?
There’s a great story in the Bible about a guy by the name of Naaman. You may have heard this story. This is a guy who was a high government official, a rich powerful man with then incurable disease of leprosy.
He had a servant girl who worked in his household who had grown up in Israel. She said to him one day, “My master there is a prophet by the name of Elisha in Israel. If you went and talked with him I believe he would pray for you and I believe you might be healed.” And Naaman listened to her.
He gets all of his people together and goes all the way to Israel and eventually he makes his way to Elisha’s door. He knocks on the door. The door opens and it’s one of Elisha’s servants. Naaman says here I am. Great government official Naaman to be healed. To have Elisha pray for me. The servant says, “Elisha’s busy right now. Sorry. He doesn’t have time for you.” And Naaman says, “What should I do?” And the servant says, “He says go down and wash in the Jordan river, dip yourself seven times, come up and you’ll be healed.” And he closes the door.
Naaman is furious. He says, “I came all this way and he couldn’t give me the time of day. He sent a servant out to talk to me.” Naaman in his stubborn pride starts to stomp off, heading back home. Things weren’t going the way he thought they should go.
He had some friends who had this honest moment with him. “Naaman’s servants went to him and said, ‘My father, if a prophet had told you to do some great thing would you not have done it? How much more then when he tells you wash and be cleansed?’”
But that day he listened to his servants. He went down to the Jordan River. He dipped himself seven times in the river. He came up the seventh time and he was healed.
Here’s the interesting thing about Naaman. He’s in his own country and he listens to a servant girl. He has the humility to listen to one of his servants and go all the way to Israel. He gets to Israel and the prophet’s servant tells him to do something. He won’t do that. That’s a great example to me. He asks us to do the one thing, the one more thing, we don’t want to do.
There’s a great verse in the book of Hebrews that I think is the answer. The Bible says in Hebrews 3:7-8 “If you hear God’s voice today don’t be stubborn.” That’s the answer. If you hear God’s voice don’t be stubborn. Let it go. Come to him.
How do you trust when you’re tired? When you just feel like, “I’d like to trust but I don’t have it in me. I’m just worn out by the circumstances of life. I’m worn down by what’s been happening to me. I don’t have it in me to trust one more ounce. I want to. I just don’t have it in me.”
What do you do then? What do you do when you feel like Psalm 143:4, “I have given up all hope and I feel numb all over.” The guy who wrote that was a man by the name of David, one of the most famous persons of faith of all the Old Testament. He wrote most of the book of psalms. David says I don’t have any hope. I feel numb all over.
You might be feeling that exact way right now because of something that happened in your life, maybe even this week. We’ve all felt this way some times in our lives. What do you do when you feel that way? David turned to God. If you’re feeling numb all over, if you’re feeling without hope, Psalms 143 is a great psalm to read again and again, especially the first part of it.
Listen to what David said after he wrote that psalm “I remembered to think about the many things that you did in years gone by. Then I lift my hands in prayer because my soul is a dessert and thirsty for water from you. Please hurry Lord and answer my prayer. I feel hopeless. Each morning let me learn more about your love because I trust you. I come to you in prayer asking for your guidance. You are my God. Show me what you want me to do and let your gentle Spirit lead me in the right path.”
How do you trust when you don’t feel like trusting and you’re just too tired? Jesus talked about it. He said in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” That’s what you do.
Jesus said when you feel worn out, when you feel like you don’t have it in you to trust, don’t run away. He said come to me, trust in me. What does that mean? That means you realize He’s with you right now. That means you talk to him about what you’re going through. You tell him I don’t have the strength to trust. You tell him you’re tired. You come to him. You realize he’s in it with you. You are not alone.
I want to close by sharing with you a song that I believe captures and summarizes everything I have tried to teach you today. And it does it in a way I hope you will feel deeply and remember.
Another rainy day
I can't recall having sunshine on my face
All I feel is pain
All I wanna do is walk out of this place
But when I am stuck and I can't move
When I don't know what I should do
When I wonder if I'll ever make it through
I gotta keep singing
I gotta keep praising Your name
Your the one that's keeping my heart beating
I gotta keep singing
I gotta keep praising Your name
That's the only way that I'll find healing
Can I climb up in Your lap
I don't wanna leave
Jesus sing over me
I gotta keep singing
Can I climb up in Your lap
I don't wanna leave
Jesus sing over me
Oh You're everything I need
And I gotta keep singing
Writer: KIPLEY, PETER C./MILLARD, BART/GRAUL, BARRY E.
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Maybe today you’ve heard that before. You’ve believed that before. You’ve trusted that before. But maybe today there’s something going on in your life in which you just need to be reminded of that truth and claim it once again. The Lord is still with you. Claim it. Believe it. Trust Him.
Maybe for some of you today, you need to come to Him for the first time. You’ve heard about Jesus Christ but you don’t have a relationship with him. You don’t talk to him on a daily basis. He’s not a part of your life. You don’t feel like you’re really following the way of Christ. You can begin to follow him right now. Remember it’s like Naaman, it’s not one big great thing you need to do. He’s already done the great thing by dying for you on the cross and being resurrected. It’s really a matter of trusting in him, simply saying yes to him. You can do that right now. And if you open the door of your heart, he’s going to come in. Guaranteed. When you come to him today and every day, you get strength from him every day. When you feel like trusting and when you don’t feel like trusting. When relationships are good and when they’re bad. When circumstances are great and when they’re terrible. Every area and circumstance of life you come to him. And you trust in him.
As we close I want to give you a chance to do just that. Talk to him about whatever difficulty, whatever relationship, whatever feeling you’re needing to trust him with right now. You may have been thinking about it the whole time or maybe it popped in your mind right now. I want to give us just a moment to talk to God about it.
Just say to him, “God here it is. This is the feeling. This is the circumstance. This is the relationship. This is where I need to trust you. This is the decision. This is the habit I’m struggling with. This is the situation I’m wrestling with. Here it is. God, help me to trust you.
Lord, I want to trust in you and not my feelings. When I’m anxious, give me faith to pray. When I’m afraid, give me faith to take the next step. When I’m stubborn, give me faith to hear your voice. When I’m tired, give me faith to come to you. I want to trust in you and not my feelings.” In Jesus’ name. Amen.