Even If: How do we trust God when things go sideways?

Festoon-lightingI recently heard a song that could have been written about a season in my life. The lyrics perfectly describe a situation that I went through over a decade ago…but whose reality still grips my heart. It’s a song by the band, MercyMe and it’s called ‘Even If’.

Verse 1:

They say, ‘Sometimes you win some / Sometimes you lose some.’

And right now, right now I’m losing bad.

I’ve stood on this stage night after night, reminding the broken it’ll be alright,

But right now, right now I just can’t.

It’s easy to sing when there’s nothing to bring me down.

But what will I sing when I’m held to the flame like I am right now?

 

My husband and I were just a couple years into blending our family. Things had been challenging in every arena but our love and gratitude for this fresh new start was high.

And then the bottom fell out. We were taken to court by someone who wanted to see us fail. This person slandered us, sent us threatening letters, and attacked our character, our finances and the peace in our home. I can’t go into more detail than that, but suffice it to say that the months leading up to the day in court were fraught with anxiety and fear.

Then the day came when we made our case in court.  Our attorney was not prepared and there were lies that were propagated that she didn’t correct. She made abysmal errors. And the worst part was that some of what we were being attacked for were things that had to do with our faith. Areas where we were walking according the Bible were mocked in court.  For this reason, I felt confident that God would defend us and not allow His word and our faithfulness to adhere to it go undefended.

But the worst happened. In fact, worse than the worst happened.  My husband and I were reeling. How could God have dropped us like this? Why didn’t prayer work? Why didn’t fasting work? Why didn’t the prayers of every prayer chain we got our request on work?  Where was God in all of this?

The heavens were silent. It was as if God not only dropped us, but He blocked our number as well. We just couldn’t break through.

Now here’s the interesting thing: At this time in my life, I was the worship leader at our church. So I had to stand up on the stage and sing about the goodness of God all the while thinking, “He may be good to you, but He’s not good to me.” That’s the WORST kind of agony! I wanted my faith back. I wanted my joy back, I wanted my worship back. But this loss had rocked me to my core.

Then one night, while preparing to lead worship the next day and wrestling in agony with unbelief and anger at God, I finally heard something. I heard the Holy Spirit whisper that I needed to worship God for Who He is, not for what He has done.  I went to the keyboard and tried to play a worship song that focused on the nature of God, but the words stuck in my throat. I literally couldn’t get them to come up and out of my mouth. In utter desperation, I got on the floor with my face in the carpet and cried out as loud as I could without causing my family to come running. I begged God to help me through this crisis. I told Him that I wanted to worship Him but I couldn’t do it on my own. I felt like a paraplegic who wants to stand but can only become erect with the help of an aide.

Within moments, I felt a release to get some words of worship out. As I uttered those few words with a small amount of corresponding emotion, more and more began to come until both worship and tears were pouring out of me. I felt the poison of the lies and the disappointment being drawn out of my soul as pure worship cleansed and restored my love and trust for the Lord.

I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. That was the moment that I realized how much pride I had been walking in up until that day. I realized how much “me” was still in the process. I realized how small I had made God and how I had reduced him to the size of a vending machine that should pop out answers to my requests when I put in the right denomination of prayer, fasting and serving. I had been serving a God of my own making instead of a God who knows what is best for me and who will care for me even when He allows hardships.

That little spark of Holy Spirit whisper enflamed my whole heart with true awe-filled worship. Nothing will put our lives into proper perspective like the presence of God. The eternal work that God did in me – a work that I needed more than I needed to have all of my financial ducks in a row – is bearing fruit that remains.
‘Even If’ Chorus:

I know You’re able and I know You can

Save through the fire by Your mighty hand.

But even if You don’t

My hope is You alone.

 

This is the place that I had to reach in my faith. It’s the crucible of testing through pain and loss that boils everything down to one common denominator: Do we love the Lord more than this life? If we love Him, we will trust Him EVEN IF things don’t turn out like we planned. EVEN IF we suffer loss. EVEN IF our dream seems to die. We need to reach the place where we can say, “But even if you don’t, my hope IS YOU ALONE.”

Now you:

  • Are you holding a grudge against God for something you expected Him to do and He didn’t?
  • Are you trying to get your faith and joy back after a big setback or disappointment?
  • Do you struggle to trust a God who could let you down the way you think He let you down?
  • Do you feel as if your faith died along with your dream?

2 Cor. 4:17-18  says: 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Because we live in space and time, we cannot adequately judge how the future will turn out.  We assess the cause and effect of circumstances from our limited view. But with these limitations, it is impossible for us to see the eternal impact that circumstances are having on our souls.  Sometimes it takes distance from the situation to see the eternal weight of glory that God worked in us through the trial.

Since God is not a man, we cannot judge Him as such. He is God and we are not. Whenever we judge God as if he is like us, we err. And when we accuse God, we become like the Accuser, who is Satan. Accusing God is foolishness because everything God does is good and wise. Just because we can’t see the goodness yet, doesn’t negate it.

So what do we do when we feel the emotions of anger and disappointment that are natural human emotions? Stuffing those emotions isn’t the answer. Taking it out on God isn’t the answer either? So what is the answer?

Taking that disappointment to the Lord in humility and admitting that from our perspective, it SEEMS as though God has abandoned us will bring healing and alignment. We ask the Lord to show us how to navigate our way back to trust and faith. We ask Him to be a healing balm for our broken heart and to soothe our pain. We ask Him to hold us until He can begin to shed some light on our situation. He is faithful and He will do it. Every time.

Let’s pray:

Dear Abba Father, this pain is real. This hurt and disappointment are trying to take me out. I’m feel like I’m losing my faith and drowning in doubt. I don’t want to feel this way, but I do. I repent for accusing You of dropping me and not caring that I’m losing it.  I turn my heart back to You and ask You to pour Your love and mercy into my heart. Soothe the pain and restore my faith and trust. I worship You as the One Who spoke the universe into existence, Who created me and saw my days before the foundations of the earth. You are working all things together for my good – even those things that seem so hurtful.  Thank You for never giving up on me. Thank You for reaching out to me even when my back was turned. I love You, Lord.  Help me love You more! Amen.

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2 thoughts on “Even If: How do we trust God when things go sideways?

  1. This blog was a right on time blog for me. Lately I’ve been faithful in my belief and waiting for answers, but there was a time (like you experienced) when I actually cursed God. I abandoned my belief and became almost suicidal. It was the death of my 31-yr-old son. God understood my pain. I was a traveling nurse and he put me on a long engagement at a hospital 1-1/2 hours from my home, where I would work a night shift with two nurses. One was a preacher’s wife and the other was a devoted Christian. They both shared the word of God with me and helped me to turn back to my faith and to the Lord’s plan. It was the His work and love for me that gently brought me back to the flock. He saw His lost sheep and brought her home. Thank you for your testimony.

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    • Dear Phyllis, thank you so much for your comment and for your testimony. I am so sorry for the grief you experienced. But isn’t our God so tender and so good to find us in our grief and lead us back to His comfort? Thank you for sharing your encouraging story with me me and all of my readers!

      Liked by 1 person

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