If we are truly honest with ourselves, even we as Christians sometimes struggle with fear, doubt, and an inability to trust God when bad things happen in our lives. When times are good we often say things like, “I’m blessed, God is good, etc.”. We are upbeat and people enjoy being around us.
But when the trials and hardships come, which Jesus promises they will, our tones often change. We can become cynical, angry, depressed, and often miserable to be around. So in this article, we are going to look at how to trust God when bad things happen both in our own lives and in the lives of those around us.
BAD THINGS ARE GOING TO HAPPEN
It’s inevitable. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, sudden financial challenges, or even persecution for our faith, bad things are going to happen. It’s just reality and the result of the fallen world that we live in and it’s not going to get better until Jesus’ return.
The world is getting darker and more challenging by the day. Yet James tells us that we should be joyful during those times because it tests and strengthens our faith.
James writes, “ Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-3
Seriously? Consider it a joy? That isn’t very comforting in the middle of the storm, but when we think about it, it really does help develop our Spiritual walk.
Think about this past year. Did you face troubles and hardships? At the time they may have seemed like the end of the world and you may have wondered how you were going to get through it. But, guess what? You DID get through it. And as you relied on God, those trials developed and strengthened your faith. It may not seem like it, but you are stronger now than you were then.
STOP BLAMING GOD FOR EVERYTHING
We’ve all heard or even said the phrase, “The Devil made me do it.” when trying to justify or rationalize sin. But another common response when dealing with a bad situation is, “It’s God’s fault. Why didn’t He stop it?”
One common misconception is that, because God is all-knowing and knows everything that was, is, and is to come, He is the one who is causing our turmoil. We need to remember that knowing isn’t causing.
For those with children, think of it this way: You know your children are going to do something that you have told them not to do. They end up doing it anyway. You can’t always and don’t always stop it. But just because you knew they were going to do it doesn’t mean you caused it to happen.
Sometimes God intervenes and prevents tragedy. Sometimes He doesn’t. I’ve seen terminal cancer patients healed through the power of prayer and I’ve also seen a simple infection claim a life. What we have to remember is: God is God and His ways are not our ways.
Satan, the temporary prince of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) is working hard right now to try to blind and pull people away from Christ.
Jesus tells us that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) We need to keep that at the forefront of our mind and stop blaming God for every bad thing that happens.
Whether it’s cancer, a car accident, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, or even unexpected financial hardship, we need to remember that our sin–Adam and Eve’s sin–is what brought about the death and decay in this world. Because of that sin, we live in a broken world. Sometimes, we are simply reaping what we have sown. (Galatians 6:7)
REMEMBER WHAT IS TO COME
Another thing we tend to forget about is the glories of what is to come for those who have put their trust in Jesus. John writes about these glories in Revelation 21 when he talks about the new Heaven and the new Earth.
He writes, “…and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Rather than blaming God, we need to be turning towards Him for strength, comfort, and healing. We need to remember His promises both for now and for the future. It’s not always easy. In fact, at times it can seem downright impossible. But those are the times when we need to cry out to Him and ask Him to help us overcome our pain.
Even if you are frustrated or angry with Him, cry out to Him. The Bible is filled with accounts of God’s people getting frustrated and angry during troubling times. What did they do? They cried out to the Lord. Many times God reminded them of their mission and the promises to come.
WE NEED TO CHANGE OUR MINDSET
We need to get out of our head. Our thoughts can be our worst enemy if we allow them to fester.
We as humans have a tendency to let the negative events overshadow and drown out the positive. When trials arise we forget all of the blessings and great things that God has done for us. The more we focus on the negative, the more it starts to chip away at our trust in Him.
On the one hand, we need to give ourselves a break, because, after all, we are only human. On the other hand, we need to be careful and get our thoughts in check.
It can quickly turn into a downward spiral if we allow negative thoughts to have free reign in our life. If we dwell on them too long they can lead to high amounts of anxiety, panic attacks, and even depression and give us a very negative outlook on everything else going on in our life.
In his book, Christians Get Depressed Too, David Murray writes, “When we are depressed, we tend to pick out the negative in every situation and think about it alone, to the exclusion of everything else. We filter out anything positive and decide everything is negative.”
What we need to do is adjust the “false filter” of our thoughts and make sure that we are remaining thankful for all of the good things in our life. It’s not always easy. But it’ll help put things in proper perspective and stop our thoughts from getting too far out of hand.
STOP SAYING “EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON”
I know that we mean well, and most of us have done it. We’ve tried to comfort hurting people and even ourselves with the famous cliche, “Everything happens for a reason.”
The purpose of this article is not to debate whether or not that statement is true. It IS true. God is sovereign and nothing happens without His hand or at least allowing it to happen. (Job 1)
That doesn’t mean it’s comforting to hear or should be said when tragedy strikes. Think about it. Have you ever been “comforted” by those words in a time of tragedy? Maybe you are one of the few that have. But for most people, it’s not comforting at all. In fact, it can actually make things worse and push many people AWAY from God, rather than towards Him.
Proverbs 25:20 puts it like this. “Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.”
We need to stop telling people to, “cheer up,” “things will get better soon,” and, “everything happens for a reason.”
What we need to do is listen, be compassionate, mourn with those who are mourning (Romans 12:15), and pray WITH, not just for, those who are hurting. We need to ask God for wisdom and the best words to use to bring hope and healing to the situation. We need to be there and SHOW the love of Jesus rather than just texting or “commenting” empty words.
Think about it this way. While everything does happen for a reason, until we know what that reason is, which only God does, maybe we should take a different approach.
3 THINGS TO DO WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN
PRAY – Even when you don’t feel like praying. Even when you are angry and God is the last person that you want to talk to, that’s the moment that you need to cry out to Him the most. Even if you don’t know the words to speak, bow before Him and let the Holy Spirit lead you. (Romans 8:26)
REJOICE AND BE THANKFUL FOR THE GOOD – Take a moment to remember all of the blessings and great things God has done in and through your life. Write them down. Think of all the ways that God has blessed you this year, this month, this week, and even today in the midst of the storm.
SPEND TIME IN THE WORD – Avoid the temptations of the false pacifiers that leave us empty and numb. Avoid the “drink” with a friend, the Netflix binge, the comfort eating and comfort spending.
When faced with difficult times and hardships we need to cling to the truth and promises found in God’s word. It’s never been easier to access God’s Word. The people from Biblical times would have loved to have the convenient access that we take for granted today. It’s available on our phones, tablets, and my personal favorite…print form!
If you don’t have a Bible here are 2 that I recommend for new believers to get started:
If you happen to be shopping for one, buy 2 and give one to a friend!
BIBLE VERSES ON COMFORT AND PROVISION
9 Bible Verses That Comfort
Deuteronomy 31:8 – The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Psalm 9:9-10 – The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
Psalm 23:4 – Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?
*All of Psalm 27 is a fantastic Psalm about putting our full trust in God
Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psalm 86:17 – Show me a sign for good, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed, because You, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
Psalm 119: 49-52 – Remember the word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me. The arrogant utterly deride me, yet I do not turn aside from Your law. I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O Lord, and comfort myself.
Psalm 119:76 – O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, according to Your word to Your servant.
8 Bible Verses on God’s Provision
Genesis 3:21 – The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
(I love that passage. Because immediately after their sin, and trying to hide it, God still showed compassion and provided for their needs.)
Genesis 9:3 – Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.
Job 38:41 – Who prepares for the raven its nourishment when its young cry to God and wander about without food?
Psalm 81:10 – I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I will fill it.
Psalm 84:11 – For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Matthew 6:31-33 – Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 7:11 – If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
Philippians 4:19 – And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
A lot of this is easier said than done. But if we focus on running towards God rather than away from Him we will be far better off. It’s not easy. But we need to remember that it wasn’t easy for the people in the days of the Bible either. They didn’t have a personal copy of God’s Word to rely on, and they didn’t have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
We have a lot of advantages that they didn’t have. Let’s use them and share them with others that are hurting as well.
Prayer For Today
Father, it’s not always easy to trust You when our world is falling apart. But that’s when we need to rely on You the most. Remind us during those times that You are always there, and have not abandoned us. We trust in Your promise to never leave us nor forsake us. Help us in our times of chaos and pain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you or someone you know is hurting and going through a rough time, share this article with them.
Part of this article was inspired by Christians Get Depressed Too by David Murray. It’s a great book on how to understand and properly address the serious issues of anxiety and depression. I highly recommend you pick it up and when you are finished, pass it on to a friend.
How have you learned to trust God when bad things happen? We would love to read about it in the comments section below.