It is easy to trust God in times of peace and clarity. It is much more difficult to trust him in confusing, uncertain times. However, it is even more important to trust him in times like these. God is our anchor and firm foundation when the storms of life are raging all around us. He is trustworthy even if nothing else is. If you are walking through uncertainty and struggling to trust God in the middle of it, I want to share four important principles for trusting God in any circumstance. I pray that each of these principles will speak directly to your heart and help you to trust God again, even in the middle of this uncertain season you are walking through.
When it looks like there’s no way out
A few weeks ago, I checked my online student loan servicer and found out that my deferment period was ending in four days and that I actually had more loans due than I initially thought. I freaked out. I couldn’t afford my payments. I was only working a part time retail job and did not make nearly enough to cover my monthly payments. I felt stuck and unsure of what to do.
I’d have to start looking for a full time job in an industry I wasn’t sure I wanted to work in anymore. I had dreams of traveling to Italy to pursue a Master’s Degree in Museum Studies. I guess that would be put on hold too.
Pushed in a direction I didn’t want to go, I started applying for full time positions in the industry I went to school for. It wasn’t the solution I wanted but it would work.
However, I still had one problem. I would need my loans deferred for another few months while I searched for a full time job. Except, it was pretty unlikely. I made lots of calls and tried everything I could.
My plans failed and I was left in the middle of uncertainty
Let me explain. I don’t come from a wealthy family. Honestly, we’ve struggled a lot. But, I knew that my education and future career could be the way out of financial struggle. I graduated at the top of my class and still struggled.
In my mind, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I worked so hard, why would God let me struggle? It was a struggle to even land that part time job and it proved to be just as much of a struggle to land a full time position.
My perfect plans failed and I was left in the middle of uncertainty, unsure of what to do. I didn’t want to pursue a full time position because that would destroy my dreams of pursuing my Master’s Degree. I thought about going for the Master’s Degree since it would be a legitimate way to defer my loans further but the program started next fall and I also wasn’t sure if I wanted to jump right into it. It was a huge risk and would bring about many sudden changes in my life.
The fear in my heart was not of God
Truthfully, I had no idea what to do. I wished it were easier. I started to allow negative thoughts to creep into my heart. Maybe I shouldn’t have gone to college in the first place? Will I ever pay off my high student loan debt? Will I ever be successful? Will I always struggle?
I had to pause for a second. The fear in my heart was not of God. God’s promises over my life were still true. He still had a plan for me even if it didn’t look like I expected.
So what should you do when you’re facing uncertainty and life looks nothing like what you expected?
Here are three things I’ve learned. I pray they help you too.
1. You stand firmly on God’s promises
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.Hebrews 6:13-15
That’s what Abraham did, that’s what I’m choosing to do, and that’s what I recommend you do as well. God never goes back on his promises. The Bible says that no word spoken from the mouth of God will return empty. It will do exactly what God intended it to do. When God spoke success over my life, it meant he intends to accomplish it no matter what. Just because I can’t see it yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Think about Abraham’s promise. God not only promised Abraham a son, he promised to make him the father of many nations. Yet, Abraham and his wife Sarah couldn’t even conceive a child. When life looks different from your promise, it’s natural to start to think maybe God made a mistake. But he doesn’t make mistakes. His timeline is simply just not the same as ours.
2. You let go of the need to be in control
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.Proverbs 16:9
This is a big one. It’s challenging to trust God in the middle of uncertainty because we are so used to being in control. I had a plan for how my life would turn out but God had another plan. I needed to step back and release control so that God could work in me as he pleased.
God at work in our lives won’t always look pleasant. It can be very painful at times and even very uncertain. But, God’s work in our lives will always produce good. Even if times are challenging, he promises to be with us.
We can depend on him during uncertain times. Don’t try to do everything on your own. Lean into his presence and trust him for direction. He will never lead you astray.
3. You choose faith instead of fear
Uncertain situations tend to bring fear. Fear comes when our norm is shaken and we don’t know what will happen next. The fear I felt was so real. It wanted to immobilize me. But here’s what God reminded me of in that moment: what is uncertain with man is certain with God. Even though I don’t know what will happen next, God knows. That simply means I have nothing to worry about.
This reminds me of the time Jesus peacefully calmed a raging storm that was terrifying his disciples. It was dark, they were on a boat and everything was good and perfect. Jesus was sleeping in the bottom of the boat while the disciples were on the upper level. Out of nowhere, the winds started getting stronger and rain started pouring down. Lightning started flashing and thunder was rolling. Well, that’s what I imagine the storm was like. It kind of reminds me of life actually. One moment everything can be smooth sailing and the next, you can be in a deadly storm. The crazy thing is that during all this commotion, Jesus never woke up. He was still, sleeping soundly in the bottom of the boat.
What kind of man is this?
Now the disciples started thinking “What kind of man is this? How is he sleeping in this storm?” Then they woke him up yelling, “Jesus, why are you letting us die in this storm? Why don’t you help us?” That’s how I feel sometimes. Everything looks chaotic and I can’t hear a word from God. But you know what, Jesus knew something they didn’t know. He had something they didn’t have. He knew they would make it to the other side safely. So there was no need to worry about it. Sometimes when you’re in an uncertain place and you can’t hear God, it means that you don’t have to worry. If the storm needed calming, he’d calm it.
If your uncertain situation needs calming, Jesus will calm it. He loves you too much to let you drown. If you’re still in the struggle, it means God has a way out. So cling to faith. When negative thoughts come into your mind, reject them immediately and embrace God’s truth. Worrying is like going down a rabbit hole, once you’re in it, it’s very hard to get out. Don’t get stuck in its cycle.
4. You work while you’re waiting
This is probably one of the hardest things to do. When I’m in an uncertain situation, I want it to change immediately. God promised me success in my career and I’d love to see it right away. It would certainly calm my anxiety. But, God doesn’t work the way we do. He wants us to trust him even when it’s hard.
While you’re waiting, work on something you’re passionate about. Your passion project may help you when it’s time to step into your promise. It could even lead you to your promise. Who knows? Don’t just sit around idly waiting for God to change something. He could be prompting you to start working on something that could change your life and the life of others.
The work that she was doing might have seemed trivial at the moment but it led her right into the arms of her promise.
A great example of working while waiting is Ruth. You may or may not have heard her story but in short, she lost her husband and ended up wandering around a foreign country with her mother in law, Naomi, hoping that God would bring provision for them. Instead of sitting around waiting for provision, she took an opportunity to work for scraps of grain from a stranger’s field to feed her and her mother in law. Little did she know, that stranger was a relative of Naomi and according to Jewish law, would be required to marry her if no other relative was alive.
Ruth went from poverty to wealth in an instant and it was only because she decided to work while waiting on God for provision. The work that she was doing might have seemed trivial at the moment but it led her right into the arms of her promise.
I encourage you to start a new hobby, take a course, read more books, travel, blog, or write, while you’re waiting for God to bring you out of uncertainty. It will help to make the wait so much easier. Like Ruth, it may lead you into your promise. You never know.
I can’t say that I know exactly how my loans will be paid off as I’m writing this. Negative thoughts still come into my mind but I reject them and embrace truth. I can say, though, by God’s grace, I got ALL my loans deferred. Even the ones I thought wouldn’t have a chance. If that isn’t something to celebrate, I don’t know what is. God is good every step of the way.
I’m still walking through uncertainty but I know that God is able. I depend on him because he won’t ever leave me. I’m going through this but I’ll get to the other side by his grace.
I’ll leave you with some scripture you can hold on to when you’re faced with uncertain situations. When you notice yourself slipping into fear and doubt, read over these:
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11
The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. Exodus 14:14
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
When you’re facing uncertain situations, let God’s truth be your anchor. Your situation may seem rocky, but God’s hand is firm. He holds you and covers you from all harm. You don’t have to worry when he’s with you. Even though you may not know your next move, he does. Get out there and start working on your passion project while you’re waiting. No matter what the struggle is, it gets better. God is good and he is with you. That’s enough of a reason to trust him.
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