“There are some things you should never trust Jesus for.”
That was a statement I made standing before 150 high school students one Sunday morning at my church, a few years back. I didn’t throw that line out just to get their attention. I meant it.
In the weeks preceding that Sunday, I’d had two different conversations, which troubled me.
The first was a forty-something man, I didn’t know all that well, who was unemployed. After some small talk, he told me with great enthusiasm about this job he’d applied for. “I’m really trusting Jesus to get me this job”, he gushed hopefully. “Would you pray for me?” I did, of course, but alarm bells were going off.
The second was a high school girl in a small group at my church, whose parents were going through a messy divorce. She, too, was “trusting” Jesus to put her parents’ marriage back together again.
Now, I know what each of these people meant when they said they were trusting Jesus. They were asking God to do something they desperately wanted done in their lives. That’s fair. I do the same thing all the time.
But, here’s what bothered me and this is how I addressed it that Sunday morning.
I looked directly at a high school senior with whom I had a great relationship sitting in the front row with his girlfriend and made this request. “I’d like you to give me $1,000.” That’s all I said. Then I just looked at him expectantly. After what felt like an hour, but was at most 20 seconds, there was complete silence in the room, he nervously responded, “You’re kidding aren’t you?”
“I’m not. And, if you don’t give me $1,000, I’ll never trust you again.” I then waited for his response.
Getting more and more exasperated, he finally blurted out the response I was hoping for. “Hold it! What makes you think I owe you $1,000 in the first place? And, what does that have to do with you not trusting me? This is crazy!” After apologizing and settling him down, I went right to the heart of the issue.
“Some of you will walk away from God someday because your parents got a divorce after you’ve prayed desperately, trusting God to put it back together again. Others of you will give up on Jesus because the mother you love, died of breast cancer, in spite of the family crying out for healing. You may bury your first born child, born with an incurable disease, in spite of the fact that you trusted Jesus to save him. Perhaps you’re already disillusioned with God because you begged him to restore a relationship with a boy you really loved, but he no longer loves you.
It’s important for you to know that Jesus wants us, he actually instructs us, in this story of the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8 and other places to pray passionately to the Father for all our needs.
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8
Writing to the church at Philippi Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phil. 4:6. So, we’re told to bring everything on our hearts to God.
However, here’s the caveat; he never promised that He would give us everything we asked for. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” I John 5:14 God’s will, what he ultimately wants for us, triumphs everything!
Jesus never promised you or anyone long life, prosperity, a good job, or a marriage that wouldn’t end until death. God meets all our needs, but he’s not promised to meet our wants. And a want, even a noble one, is not a promise. That’s why there are all kinds of things we should never trust Jesus for.
Actually, to “trust Christ” means that we have enough confidence in what Jesus said and what he taught that we’d actually obey him. To trust Christ means we will love our enemies even if it feels unfair. To trust Christ means we’ll forgive others, whether they’re sorry or not. To trust Christ is to obey him in all things even if they are counter-intuitive to all our instincts.
The “holy grail” of trusting Christ is, of course, trusting in his promise to save us if we truly believe in him as our God and Savior. But, after salvation, trusting Christ means doing the thing he wants, not getting the things from him, we want.
To trust Christ, is to obey Christ
The bottom line; God is always trustworthy. He will always do what he promises to do. But, he has no obligation to deliver on a promise he’s never made to you.
In two days I’ll post a follow-up blog and continue this topic, applying it to ministry plans and vision.
Following Jesus in Real Life