“Like a Weaned Child”: Trusting God When Life Hurts (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

Lesson #1: The trials envisioned and trust enjoined by this text are not extraordinary but normative for the covenant community.

The command to “hope” in verse three is very common throughout the Bible, especially in contexts of hardship, suffering, and persecution (e.g., Lam 3:24, 26). Thus, the Psalmist is not calling God’s people to do something extra-ordinary. He’s calling them to live a life of faith in a sin-cursed world. And that’s the kind of world we live in. As a result, trials and tragedies are not rare, but rather they are part of life (Job 5:7; 1 Peter 4:12). We may not all suffer the same trials. We may not all face the same mysteries. But sooner or later, God will bring difficulty into our life that we may not understand. Trusting God in such circumstances is what the Christian life is all about!

Lesson #2: God often intends the afflictions of one member for the good of the whole community.

In Psalm 119:71, David says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn [God’s] statutes.” But it was not only good for David’s soul. It was also good for the entire community of Israel. God afflicted David, so that David might encourage God’s people to trust in the Lord. Such was also Paul’s experience—2 Corinthians 1:4: “[God] comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble.”

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“Like a Weaned Child”: Trusting God When Life Hurts (Part 1)

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? For example, what do we say when a Christian mother backs the car over the top of her little toddler crushing him to death? When a Christian man discovers he has brain cancer and must soon leave his three young children without a father? When a hurricane destroys the homes and disrupts the lives not only of unbelievers but also of believers? Perhaps you’ve asked that question while undergoing personal trial or tragedy. You’ve lost a loved one or gone through a heart-rending divorce or contracted a chronic illness or been betrayed by a Christian friend. The Lord has dealt bitterly with you, as He did with Naomi, and you desperately want to know “Why?”

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The Principle of the Open Hand

There is a dynamic that each of us must learn by experience that has the power to transform our understanding of the Christian life. I call it the principle of the open hand.

I have tried to determine who first enunciated this concept. Apparently, it traces to Martin Luther, who stated: “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”

Apparently, Corrie Ten Boom—one of the great Christian heroes who arose through the horrors of the Holocaust—loved that quote and added her own twist, saying: “I have learned to hold all things loosely, so God will not have to pry them out of my hands.”

A variation on this theme is that God will only dispense His blessings into an open hand, never a clenched fist.

It seems to me that all of these precepts are true and work together, but I would actually add one more layer to them. You see, anytime I close my fist to clutch God’s blessings, He does not even have to pry them away from me. They simply crumble and vanish like the dust.

However, when I hold those treasures that He lends for my oversight carefully, but lightly—with my hands open toward heaven, displaying faith—they somehow remain secure. Not only that, He seems to reward my posture. Sometimes He will even:

… open for (me) the windows of heaven
And pour out for (me) such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it. (Mal. 3:10)

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Trust the God Who Provides (Not the Means He Uses)

"If you have had a stable and steady job for 5, 10, or 20 years, it’s easy to get the idea that the job that is what provides for you. No, God provides for you. ...You may say—God has provided a small group for me, a dear friend for me, a healthy church for me, a wonderful ministry for me. These are the means of God’s supply. The way God supplies will change." - Colin Smith

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Trusting God When Your Pain Seems Pointless

"Last spring, my youngest found me lying in bed when she arrived home from her soccer game: 'Does your head still hurt really bad, Mom? It’s okay that you missed my game; I have more coming up. Maybe you can come to one of those games.' My oldest daughter asked me, 'Mom, someday if you don’t have a migraine, can you take me to the store to pick up some new art supplies?' I constantly feel like a disappointment." - TGC

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