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Comfort for the troubled soul
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"Even though troubles came down on me hard, your commands always gave me delight. The way you tell me to live is always right; help me understand it so I can live to the fullest " (Psalm 119:143-144 MSG).

God's word can a great comfort to the troubled soul if we will let it.

As long as we live in this fallen world, we are going to face difficult situations. Too many professed Christians are secretly angry with God because he has not responded to them in a way they wanted him to respond or how they thought he should respond. They've prayed for something, they've pleaded for something and some have been sinful enough to try to force his hand by claiming the answer they wanted before God answered. Prayer is not primarily my bending the Divine Will to do my bidding, but prayer, true prayer, is bending my will to fulfill the Divine bidding. Even Jesus prayed, "nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:39, NKJV). This is the second person of the Trinity. Even he was not so brazen as to pray, "My Father, thank you for taking this cup from me." Though it was obvious that was his desire at that moment in time.

We will face difficult times, we will suffer, and eventually, if Jesus doesn't come in our lifetime, we will die, that is the reality of living in this fallen world; it is the reality of the consequences of sin. Most of us want to live any way we want and then have God come and kiss our wounds and make them all better, and if he doesn't, we stew and become bitter. This has got to stop. We need to come to the place where we who say that our Heavenly Father really does know best need to start living with that confidence, even when he is not doing what we think he should do.

The truth is, we cannot comprehend all God does. The Bible reminds us, "'My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,' says the Lord. 'And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT). There are many things I do not understand in this life. Tragedies I cannot comprehend, but I am absolutely confident that God can be trusted. Why? He proved his love for me by sending his son who who came to this earth by the way as a willing sacrifice for sin. God did this despite the fact that he knew I despised him, despite the fact that he knew I didn't want his involvement in my life, despite the fact that he knew that I would constantly fail him (sometimes inadvertently but mostly purposefully), and even though he knew all this, he still loved me, died for me, and rose for me so that I could live. That is why I am absolutely confident this God can be trusted even if he doesn't do what I want him to do; even if I cannot understand what he is doing. I like the way The Message Translation puts Romans 8:32, "If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us?" (Romans 8:32, The Message). That God can be trusted.

Lest you are prone to think, "Well, why would I trust a God who would sacrifice his own son?" Let me remind you that Jesus' sacrifice was not an unwilling one. Yes, in that final hour he pleaded with the Father for another way, but he also willingly submitted to what he understood to be the only way of redemption - the penalty had to be paid so the righteous judge could remain just. The amazing thing to me in all of this is the fact that God didn't need to create us in the first place. He is, by nature, self-sufficient which means he needs nothing from anyone. He didn't have to create us to find his own fulfillment; get that silly notion out of your head.

Why then did he create us when he knew what we were going to do and what it was going to cost? The only answer I can give is his love. If that is what he is like, I know I can trust him even in the difficult moments of my life. The psalmist hits the nail on the head: even when I face struggles I cannot understand or fathom, the truth of God's promises can give me the grace I need to go through them and the comfort I need as I am going through the valleys of life.

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church. Write him in care of the church at 11677 Brown Bridge Road Covington, GA, 30016. Send e-mail to