Lesson Learned: Trust God
Most of us have heard the advice that we should be lifelong learners. In my experience, life itself is the best teacher. Some lessons are hard to master while others we seemingly grasp without even trying, but I’ve found that God has a customized curriculum of life events for each one of us. Though we may sometimes think we have life all figured out, God ultimately knows what is best. His ways are much better and wiser than ours, and what we learn along the journey with Him is beyond what we could ever have imagined.
As I reflect back on my greatest lessons learned over the years, I would like to share a few of these in the hope that it might help a fellow “lifelong learner” along the way.
Lesson #1 – Trust God. One of my earliest lessons came as a teenager. As a middle child in a large family where Mom and Dad were often busy, I had to figure out a lot of things on my own. I had witnessed extended family members whose lives were a wreck from partying, alcohol, or being dependent on prescription drugs to help them through depression. I did not want that for my life, so was determined to avoid those outcomes by always doing my best to be a good person and do the right thing. At home, my focus was to try to please my parents. At school, it was to please my teachers and friends. When the opportunity came to start going to church with my grandma and sister, my goal was to live as my Sunday school teachers taught.
It was not possible for me to change harsh feelings that I knew were wrong. And even my best efforts to “be good” left me feeling unsatisfied. Something was missing.
Eventually, however, I realized that as hard as I tried to do what was right, I was failing. It was not possible for me to change harsh feelings that I knew were wrong. And even my best efforts to “be good” left me feeling unsatisfied. Something was missing. I wondered what I was put on this earth for. I did believe in God and knew there was a Heaven and a Hell, but had no assurance that Heaven was where I would spend eternity. I feared for the worst at times when I couldn’t control my emotions or actions.
At age seventeen, in one of my worst moments, God reached out to me, saying, “You have tried everything else. Why not give Me a chance?” I did that, placing my trust in God for the first time by surrendering to Him, and my life changed in an instant! Instead of despair, God gave me hope, and He gave peace instead of anger. In place of jealousy, bitterness, and sin, He filled my heart with His perfect love. I was truly a “new creature” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Lesson learned: Trust God when He calls, and surrender to Him.
Lesson #2 – Trust God. As I grew in my new relationship with the Lord, I turned to Him for guidance in times of uncertainty. For example: Who should I date? God advised me never to date someone I would not consider marrying. Then I wondered, Who should I marry? That question took a lot of prayer, but the end result of following God’s guidance was a godly husband. Our love never failed, and we never regretted our decision. After we were married we looked to God to know, Should we have children? God gave us children, and then we needed to know how to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The need for guidance does not end, and God never fails to lead us!
During the years of raising our children, there were many situations that we were not sure how to handle, but God guided us through His Word. There were also times when we did not know how we would pay our bills. We honored God’s financial plan of tithing first, and when we turned to Him in times of difficulty, He always provided for us. Issues came up with jobs, extended family, and more. We proved the promise from Proverbs 3:5-6 time and again: “Trust in the <smallcaps>Lord<smallcaps> with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Lesson learned: Turn your concerns over to God and trust His guidance.
Lesson #3: Trust God. One of my hardest trials was when a dearest hope of mine came true but was soon taken away. My husband and I wanted a large family, and my personal dream was to have twins. We had two children, and then a pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage. That was a difficult time, but God taught me to count my blessings. A couple more years passed, and then to our delight, I was pregnant again. However, about five months later, a car accident occurred on my way to work. Though not physically injured, the trauma and other complications caused my pregnancy to end. The situation was heartbreaking, and then the doctor informed us that we had lost twins. Even today, words fail to describe the profound loss we felt. I could not understand why God would give me my heart’s desire just to take it away. It seemed to me that it would have been better to never have known we were going to have twins. Though I could not comprehend why this had happened, God helped me through that painful time, and later blessed us with another son.
To my amazement, I discovered that the loss of our twins was my hardest time, yet also the time when I felt closest to God! Because I needed God’s presence and comfort so much during that time, I was reading the Bible more and praying more earnestly than ever before.
Years later, at a Bible study session, those of us participating were asked to look back over our lives and figure out when we were closest to the Lord. The purpose was to determine what caused that close relationship. To my amazement, I discovered that the loss of our twins was my hardest time, yet also the time when I felt closest to God! Because I needed God’s presence and comfort so much during that time, I was reading the Bible more and praying more earnestly than ever before. God had used that trial to help me grow closer to Him and stronger in my faith.
A while later, a colleague of mine went through a similar experience of losing her unborn baby. Because of what I had been through, I was able to empathize (not just sympathize) with her. Through our shared sorrows, she went from being an atheist to believing in God! She was able to trust that He knew best in this circumstance. My sorrow changed to joy, knowing that God had permitted a trial that would later enable me to reach out and help someone in need.
At some point, all of us will question why God allows bad things to happen to good people. We will not always understand God’s ways. However, with the passing of time I have seen many ways that God uses these situations for a greater good, either for myself or for another. Lesson learned: Trust God with your trials. He has a good purpose for everything He allows.
Lesson #4: Trust God. As my husband and I approached the end of our careers, we thought we had our retirement all planned out. Our dream was to travel from branch church to branch church, supporting their music programs and enjoying fellowship with God and His saints. However, when that time arrived, my retirement lasted only four days before life-changing events took place that altered our plans entirely. A medical emergency caused my husband to be placed in an intensive care unit for two days, and one month later he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. The damage from these episodes and successive strokes caused Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, which started us on a new journey with God.
It was hard to suddenly change our plans, sell our home, and relocate to a new city. Witnessing my husband’s suffering and trying to help him maintain his dignity in spite of the demoralizing symptoms of Alzheimer’s was beyond difficult. In many ways, the man I knew was already gone, and I grieved that loss even while trying to care for him. Yet at certain times, God in His mercy would allow a moment of clarity to break through his mental confusion, and I had my husband back. Those were such precious times! God encouraged him, too. Even though his memory loss meant that he could no longer perform most tasks, the Lord allowed him to retain his ability to play the clarinet. His fingers could still fly over the keys and play his most difficult memorized music. He was unable to comprehend anything he read, but God preserved his love of the Bible, and he would often surprise me with comments about what he learned anew.
Over the course of four years, despite the challenges, there were many blessed moments of God’s intervention on our behalf, and miraculous ways that God went before us to provide our needs even before we knew what was ahead. Often, these incidences became a tool to share God’s goodness with family, medical providers, and others. They painted a beautiful picture of His grace, power, and faithfulness. We could clearly see His perfect foreknowledge and absolute love. Now more than ever, I value how close God has been in every aspect of my life. These lessons were not easy, but I wouldn’t trade what I have learned over the past four year for anything.
There has been sorrow, but it has never overshadowed my joy. There have been questions, but God has given His perfect peace. There have been times I have felt tired and weak, but He has been my strength.
My husband’s trials have ended and He has gone to be with His Lord. There has been sorrow, but it has never overshadowed my joy. There have been questions, but God has given His perfect peace. There have been times I have felt tired and weak, but He has been my strength. There have been times I felt alone and bereft, but He has been my constant Companion and Friend. I can confirm the words of the Psalmist, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). Lesson learned: We can trust God to the very end of this life. He will see us all the way through!
Truly, I am a lifelong learner of how trustworthy our God is. Life will bring us challenges that are big and small and everything in between, and we can trust God with all of them. He is in control! Lessons learned: God can always be trusted.