Trusting God when Things Go Wrong
Written by Isabel Crisostomo
March 3, 2o22
Reflections on the message Your Best Year Yet: In Tough Times, Be Still.
How is your 2022 going so far?
You may have been hopeful when the year started. I was as well. The pandemic seemed to be finally coming near its end. We started receiving booster shots, enjoyed looser restrictions after two years in lockdown, and reported less than 1,000 cases a day throughout December 2021. Moreover, I was getting back on track with my career trajectory. I had to sacrifice numerous career opportunities since the pandemic started in March 2020, so when God started opening doors again, I was overjoyed. Yes, Lord, this is it! This is MY year!
Experiencing trials, especially prolonged ones, is a difficult journey.
It took only ten days after the New Year for my hopes to come crashing down. I was supposed to fly out of the country to take an entrance exam for a medical school I am applying to abroad. I had little to no problems arranging my travel and COVID-19 requirements. Given how smooth the process was, I was confident that nothing would stop me from taking the exam and eventually enrolling at the school in July.
However, cases started climbing again due to the Omicron surge. Twelve hours before departure, the airline informed me that they canceled the flight since they were understaffed.
I would miss the exam if I took the next available flight, and due to the surge, other airlines were canceling flights too. So I canceled my exam registration altogether. Consequently, I had to also delay my enrollment to 2023 at the earliest.
After the rush of requesting refunds, I spent the next two weeks pouring out my frustrations to God. At one point, I even asked Him, “Why did You let me get my hopes up, only to allow disappointment in the end?” I felt He was playing a cruel joke on me.
What started as an exciting year full of possibilities suddenly became ridden with uncertainty.
Can you relate? The year may be turning out differently than you expected. Perhaps you recently experienced the death of a loved one. Or you got rejected by the school of your top choice (or by your crush). Or maybe, you are still struggling with problems that you hoped would be gone by now.
Even though our circumstances are different, we ask God the same question: Why?
There was a man thousands of years ago who also asked this question. The Old Testament introduces us to Job, a righteous man who is blameless in God’s eyes (Job 1:1). He had everything a man could ask for: family, wealth, reputation, and, most importantly, an intimate relationship with God (Job 1:1-3; 29:1-5, 11). Almost in an instant, he lost all of these. A calamity killed his children (Job 1:18-19). Intruders attacked his servants and stole his livestock (Job 1:13-17). Job himself developed painful boils all over his body (Job 2:7). At the end of it all, his wife even told him to curse God and die (Job 2:9).
And so, in his desperation, Job cried out to God: “Why have you made me your target?” (Job 7:20)
we see that God allowed these trials to destroy Satan’s accusations against Him and Job
GOD IS WORKING BEHIND-THE-SCENES
We are given the privilege to look at Job’s story from a third-person point of view. If we read further into Job 1 and 2, we learn that Satan was actually testing Job. It may come as a surprise that Satan did this under God’s permission (Job 1:12; 2:6). Why would God even allow the enemy to test us?
The good news is God’s presence in our lives is not dependent on our emotions.
There is no single answer to this question. But in Job’s story specifically, we see that God allowed these trials to destroy Satan’s accusations against Him and Job. Satan claimed that Job only loves God because of the blessings He has showered him. If only God withdraws His blessings on Job and his household, then “[Job] will surely curse [God] to [His] face.” (Job 1:9-11; 2:4-5)
In later chapters, we see that, while Job did question God, he never cursed Him. Instead, in faith and humility, Job exclaimed, “The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21)
God’s purpose for allowing trials into our lives may be different from His purposes for Job. But we could relate to Job in that sometimes we do not see God’s purposes for our suffering. One thing we could be assured of is that God does see. He is always behind the scenes. He knows everything that happens here on earth and in the spiritual realm. Moreover, His protection will always be upon us (Job 1:12; 2:6).
Knowing this, we could humble ourselves before God, trusting that He cares and is in control (1 Peter 5:6-7).
GOD IS STILL WITH YOU
Experiencing trials, especially prolonged ones, is a difficult journey. During this pandemic, there are days when I feel the closest I have been to God. But at the same time, there are days when I feel that He is distant, punishing me from afar.
You could take comfort that Job also experienced these emotions. At times, he had full confidence that God would deliver him: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him!” (Job 13:15). At other times, he felt that God had abandoned him: “But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him.” (Job 23:8-9)
Spoiler alert: God never revealed why Job experienced suffering.
The good news is God’s presence in our lives is not dependent on our emotions. He specifically promised in His Word that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). He also gives us the assurance that we will always find Him when we seek Him (Jeremiah 29:13).
Another thing we could note from Job is that he prayed in bitterness, desperation, and even anger. He did not feel the need to come to God and pretend that everything was normal. There are times we feel powerful in prayer, that God is near, and we know all that we want to say to Him. But if all you could do is cry, or maybe even be silent before Him, know that He still listens to you.
But if all you could do is cry, or maybe even be silent before Him, know that He still listens to you.
GOD IS SOVEREIGN
Okay, now we know that God is working behind the scenes and that He is always with us. But these still do not answer the question why: Why is God allowing these difficult circumstances in my life?
Spoiler alert: God never revealed why Job experienced suffering. He did not tell Job that Satan had accused him nor that He allowed Satan to strike Job so that Satan would be silenced.
Instead, God asks Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4) God taught Job that as a human, his perspective of the universe, whether on earth or the heavenly realms, is extremely limited. Simply put, Job did not have God’s point of view. God knows how to act accordingly to accomplish His good purposes in Creation
Part of surrender is acknowledging that we do not know everything. And that is why God invites us to trust Him because He does. Coupled with this fact is the promise that His plans are for our good (Jeremiah 29:11) and that He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). Whether God eventually reveals His purposes for certain trials or not, we can rest assured that God is always on our side. As the song goes, “When you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.”
So, how is your 2022 going so far? Wherever you may be in life right now, I pray that you will seek peace not in your circumstances, but in the God who holds them. I pray that you will find joy not in your blessings, but in the God who gives them. And I pray that you will rest not in the hope of better things to come, but in the God who causes all things to work out for your good (Romans 8:28).