Learning to Trust and Obey

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, December 3, 2014 1 comments

by Logan Ames

There is an old church hymn written in the late 1800s called “Trust and Obey”. You can find the lyrics here. The gist of the song is that the only way we can be happy in this world no matter what else is happening around us is to trust and obey Jesus. If you look over the lyrics, you’ll see what I mean. The writer says we have no reason to doubt or fear if we trust and obey Christ. He also says that Jesus will repay us for our toils and will bless our grief and losses if we trust and obey him. Jesus has NEVER failed at this, so the question isn’t whether it’s true but whether you are willing to believe him even in the midst of bad things happening that you feel you don’t deserve.

Jesus isn’t asking you to do something he hasn’t already done. After all, he didn’t go to the cross for us just to save us and give us eternal life. It was also out of obedience to his Father. Being one with the Father (John 10:30), Jesus knew that the Father could have chosen to save the world some other way. But rather than complain about something bad happening to someone good (and lets call it what it really is, the WORST happening to the BEST), he simply accepted that his Father had a plan for redeeming sinners since the moment they sinned, and that the plan included his obedience. You can see his heart for submitting to the Father’s will in his prayer at Gethsemane before he was arrested and crucified (Matthew 26:38-44). What’s even more interesting is that Jesus, who was perfect in every way, didn’t arrive at that point overnight.

Hebrews 5:3 tells us that Jesus “learned obedience from what he suffered”. We often make the mistake of thinking that Jesus had nothing to learn when he left heaven and came to this world, but that view cheapens what he went through as a human being. The fact that he learned obedience doesn’t mean he learned “how” to obey. Jesus was never disobedient. It simply means that he learned what would be involved with his obedience. His will and choice to obey were continually strengthened by the suffering he endured, including rejection from friends and family long before he was crucified. He couldn’t learn it from watching anyone else because no one else obeyed perfectly. You and I, however, can learn obedience through both viewing what he did and our own experiences in perseverance.

When you experience something bad in your life, it may test your faith. It might make you wonder whether or not God is real, or whether he really cares. The same is true when you face a temptation that seems overwhelming or when God just won’t give you that thing that you desperately want. It is in those moments that you learn what your faith will require of you and whether you are willing to trust and obey. James tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

It’s not that we are supposed to hide our true feelings and act joyful while we are struggling through something, but that because of Christ we can take a step back and be thankful that the tough times forced us to grow when we might not have been willing to otherwise. The faithful life doesn’t look the same for everyone. You may have to deal with the unexpected death of a loved one or an illness that came upon you unexpectedly. Someone else may have to deal with the sudden loss of employment or a major financial hit. I may be dealing with temptation that threatens to destroy me if I give in or may suffer consequences of someone else’s sin against me. In each case, we may feel that what we are going through is too hard or undeserved, but the choice to trust God with what he is doing in your life and obey him is still on the table. The enemy wants to use those things to convince you that God cannot be trusted, but that’s because the enemy’s goal is to devour you (1 Peter 5:8). Trusting and obeying God gives you something to rely on greater than your circumstances. It allows you to see his work even in the “bad” things, knowing that each time you persevere you are getting closer to him.

In essence, the answer to the question of why bad things happen to “good” people is that bad things are sometimes necessary to produce more goodness in our lives. We seem to have this expectation of God like he owes it to us to keep us happy and give us what we want once we have “given our lives to him”. We forget that his Word says that we were “dead in our transgressions” before he “made us alive with Christ”, which means we had NO LIFE apart from him (Ephesians 2:5). Paul did not forget this. He understood that no one deserves to be blessed by God or to be with God, so after his opponents stoned him and left him for dead, he told the other believers, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

You and I must force ourselves to take this view of our lives. We must resist the temptation of self-entitlement that seems to be so prevalent in our culture and expect that the faithful life will not be easy. I urge you to accept the bad things that happen in your life as opportunities to draw closer to God. Remember that nothing is guaranteed in this life and if you want the ultimate reward of being with God for all eternity, he will use the things you face to teach you to trust and obey.


Matthew Schreck said...