Spiritual Growth

How to Trust God, Even in Difficult Times

Brittany Yesudasan

Life is not predictable. There are ups and downs along the way. Many of us want to trust God. When times are good, it can feel easier. But when times feel difficult, it is even more important to trust God. God’s unchanging character can give us a firm foundation when things feel unsteady and uncertain.

Life can be going along smoothly for a season. Your job is satisfying. Your friends and family are enjoyable. Your goals, finances, health and outlook seem bright. Then, all of a sudden, life throws a curveball. Someone you know gets sick. You lose your job. A friend or family member betrays you. The things you felt secure in all of a sudden feel shaky and uncertain.

How do you trust that God is good in these circumstances? How do you trust Him when you do not understand what is happening? When you cannot see a resolution? These are valid questions, and God wants to help you navigate them.

What Does It Mean to Trust God?

To trust is to believe in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of something. So, when it comes to trusting God, that means believing in His reliability, His Word, His ability and His strength. The Bible says that God cannot lie. That He always keeps His promises. That He loves you and has good in store for you. Trusting in Him means believing what He says about Himself, about the world and about you is true.

Trusting God is more than a feeling; it’s a choice to have faith in what He says even when your feelings or circumstances would have you believe something different. Your feelings and circumstances matter and are very much worth paying attention to. God cares about them both. But those things alone are not reliable enough to base your life on. They can change at any moment, even in an instant. God, on the other hand, does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and therefore is worthy of your trust.

Trusting God is not about ignoring your feelings or reality. It is not pretending that everything is OK when it isn’t. Trusting God is living a life of belief in and obedience to God even when it’s difficult.

How to Trust God

Now that you know what it means to trust God, how exactly can you do that in your everyday life?

If you trust someone, you feel comfortable being honest with them about anything. God is much more reliable than even your most trustworthy friend. When things feel difficult, He doesn’t ask you to keep those feelings to yourself.

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7, New International Version)
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book. (Psalm 56:8, New Living Translation)

Because God loves you, you can show your trust in Him by talking about all your feelings and circumstances with Him — the good and hard — through prayer. Don’t let your emotions rule your life; bring them to God so He can help you address them. He is not disappointed or frustrated by your struggles, doubts or pain. He cares about you, and you can trust Him with those things.

When you trust, you go to God and His word when life is hard. You also act on obedience (doing what God says in His Word) and trust that He will ultimately take care of the rest. In trust, you do not look for security in other things; you look to God to hold you securely in difficult circumstances. You won’t do this perfectly, but God is kind and patient with you while you learn to trust Him.

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” He said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him. “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” (Mark 14:34-36, NIV)

Jesus Himself felt overwhelmed by what was before Him, and He went straight to His Father.

He cares for your hurts. He pays attention. How comforting it is to know that the God of the universe is also paying attention to you. Knowing that God is for you will strengthen your trust in Him during times of hardship and the unknown.

Here are seven practical ways to trust God in your everyday life:

1. Seek Truth in Scripture

Scripture, or the Bible, is God’s Word. God knows you need somewhere to go when you feel unsure. That place is His Word. It is unchanging and completely trustworthy.

The Bible records ways God has responded in difficult times in the past. It reminds you that He is trustworthy whatever your circumstances. Many people in Scripture even reference other parts of Scripture to encourage themselves and those around them.

The truth of Scripture frees you from the expectations of earning your salvation (John 8:32). It also frees you from the unrealistic scenarios that you run to in worry. If you don’t run to the Word to remind you of truth in difficult times, it is easier for you to be led into lies about your life and who God is.

You need a strong foundation of Scripture to stand on, especially when you feel uncertain. The Bible is God’s unfailing, unchanging Word. You can cling to its truth when life throws you a curveball.

2. Confess Unbelief

Be honest. Allow God to remind you who He is and what He promises, and then be honest with Him. You can tell God how you feel and in what areas of your life you are struggling to trust Him.

First, it is good to acknowledge that His character is good and trustworthy. You can agree with Him that all He says is true. You can also tell Him when it’s difficult for you to believe.

According to Mark 9, a man brought his son to Jesus for healing from being possessed by a demon. He asked Jesus to heal him “if you can.” Jesus asked the man if he did not believe that Jesus could heal, and this was his reply.

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NIV)

He believed, but it was a difficult thing to believe. So He asked for help.

It is one thing to know the truth. But it is sometimes hard to believe it when life takes unexpected turns. You’re human. You’re able to confess to God when your feelings and beliefs are not lining up with His Truth. You can ask Him to help you believe what He says is true.

This helps you accept that God is bigger than you could ever understand. Confession helps you to humble yourself and allows you to grow in trust. He hears your requests and answers them. He wants to help you grow your faith.

3. Share Your Concerns With Your Community

You are not facing these difficult times alone. The Lord is walking with you every step of the way. He also gives you other believers to walk with.

Paul was a follower of Jesus and a leader in the early church. He shared this with a fellow believer as encouragement.

I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. (Philemon 1:6, NIV)

Paul reminded his friend that partnership is important and helps us have a greater understanding of God and His plan.

When you are struggling, share those concerns with another follower of Jesus whom you trust — someone you know is pursuing a relationship with God regularly and who knows God’s Word. You do not have to share struggles with everyone, but find those people who will encourage you and share the truth with you — not just tell you what you want to hear.

Fellow believers can remind you of God’s character through encouragement and accountability. They can pray for and support you. They can remind you of the truth when you’re struggling. Community reminds you that you are never alone, even in hard times.

4. Remember God and Spend Time With Him

God is bigger than your circumstances. Difficult times may feel like they last forever, but they are temporary. God is present amid the bad times as well as the good. He is always faithful.

God wants you to go to Him with your circumstances. He also wants you to come to Him simply to spend time with Him. You should not let your circumstances shape your relationship with God. God can shape your view of your circumstances.

Spend regular time with God. Establishing a consistent time with the Lord when things feel good will help you to continue to go to Him when things feel rough. If you have not established that, it is never too late to start.

Read His Word. Spend time in prayer acknowledging who He is. Meet with other believers and set your eyes on things that are bigger than your circumstances. Serve those around you. These simple practices will help you see God outside of difficult things, which will establish trust in your heart that He will move in your circumstances.

5. Look for Things to Be Grateful For

Difficult circumstances feel all-consuming at times. It is really hard to see past them to other good things going on. But God’s grace is in all things. In your waking up. In a sunny day. In a call from a friend. He is in all of it.

But those good times often get overshadowed by other more complicated things going on. In the face of those difficulties, God shares His will for you and how you should respond to them.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

God calls you to give thanks. He is always working in your life and in the world. In the moments when everything appears to be falling apart, it can be hard to see how the Good Father is at work, but know His mercy is consistent.

Giving thanks fights the lie that everything is horrible. Even in tragic circumstances, there will be light and grace. God is present and is making Himself known. You need only to look. Trust grows as you look for God’s presence in what feels dark and heavy. He never leaves.

6. Walk in the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit lives in anyone who trusts in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is your constant helper, pointing you to Jesus.

When Jesus was telling His followers that He was going to be killed, He knew that they would be worried. They would feel scared about being left alone. So He shared this with them to give them comfort.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:26, NIV)

The Spirit comforts and reminds you of the truth. The Spirit will also lead you in obedience. He will bring direction to you.

A common struggle in difficult times is feelings of helplessness and worry about an unknown future. The leading of the Spirit can ease struggles by guiding you to acts of obedience. He does not always give you the big picture, but He will show you the next step.

Walking closely with the Spirit will not only give you direction but will remind you that you are not alone. God is not distant. He is with you in difficulty. He is making a way for you.

Go to “How Do I Hear God’s Voice?” to learn more about how to follow the Spirit’s leading.

7. Wait on the Lord

The Holy Spirit will lead you to what you should do. Sometimes what you need to do is wait. Faithfully continue to seek the Lord, but wait on His timing. Wait on Him to act on your behalf. Wait on Him to do what you cannot do yourself.

In the book of Isaiah, God responds to the Israelites who thought that God had turned away from them. He reminds them that He does not sleep or take a break. He always sees them and is always working for their good.

They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31, English Standard Version)

He will help you wait with endurance. Waiting on the Lord reminds you that you are not in control. Thank goodness! He is bigger than any of your circumstances. He will sustain you and grow your faith in the waiting.

God is never neglecting your life. If He seems to be silent, remember His promise that He is always hearing your prayers and responding.

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17, ESV)

When Trust Falters

God is trustworthy even when you don’t see your prayers answered or problems solved right away. Life is unpredictable and difficult at times, and that difficulty may persist for longer than you had hoped. It may even bring you to the end of your strength. So, what do you do then?

Wait, trust and remember that God loves you. You can trust Him to sustain you, provide for you and be with you even in the midst of your hardship. Jesus guaranteed His followers that they would face hard times (John 16:33), but He promised that He would always be with them (Matthew 28:20).

God is completely trustworthy, but He does not ask you to trust Him blindly. He wants you to learn to trust Him as you get to know Him. You can get to know God through personal time with Him and through His Word. Spend time exploring aspects of His trustworthiness in verses of Scripture.

In the book of Romans, one of the early followers of Jesus, Paul, writes to believers about the present life. He reminds them that this life will have hardship and that our bodies will fail, but God is still working for our good.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, NIV)

In times of doubt, remember His promises. Remember who He has always been. Even in doubt and uncertainty, if you keep going to Him, He will continually show Himself to be trustworthy.

If you struggle with why God allows difficulty, read the article “Why Does God Allow Suffering?”

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