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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - Trusting God When You Don't Understand

Craig Groeschel - Trusting God When You Don't Understand

Craig Groeschel - Trusting God When You Don't Understand
Craig Groeschel - Trusting God When You Don't Understand
TOPICS: Think Ahead, Truth, Worry

What do you think is the most disobeyed verse in the Bible? Think about it. What do you think is the most disobeyed verse in the Bible? Now, nobody knows for sure and nobody can prove it, but one could argue that one of the most important verses is also one of the most often disobeyed verses and also happens to be the most commonly quoted verse on coffee mugs in the history of the world. Perhaps the most disobeyed verse in the Bible could be Proverbs 3:5 that says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart". I'll give you the whole verse over here if we can get it on there, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways". This is hard to do, right? "In all your ways to acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight". Let's put it on the screen so we can just go. Let's go ahead and read this first part aloud together.

What do you think is maybe the most disobeyed verse in the Bible? Let's say this, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, and in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight". Those of you online, type in the comments section, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart". Trust in the Lord with every part of your heart. That's really easy to put on a coffee mug. It's really hard to do. How many of you would you agree? Type in the comments section, "That's hard to do". It is way easier to worry than it is to trust in the Lord with all your heart. Those of you that are super Christians, you're not worried, you're just concerned. It's way easier to be concerned than to trust in the Lord with all your heart because there's so much to worry about. How many of you have something heavy on your mind right now? Type in the comments sections, "I have something heavy on my mind".

What is it that you might be worried about? Those of you who are students, it might be an upcoming test that's just got you all spun up. It could be a decision that you have to make, and you're not sure what you're gonna do. I'm certain that many of you are really concerned about your schedule. How in the world am I gonna get it all done? Or it might be a child that you have that's not living in a way that you think is wise or God-honoring. It could be your marriage that you're trying and praying and hoping. And no matter how hard you work, it seems like you take two steps forward and then 19 back, right? It could be financially. The moment you start to catch up, everything doubles in price, and you're going, "How did we get here? I can't even afford to buy a house? I can barely even buy milk right now". It could be that you're worried about the health of someone you love or even your own health. What is it that you're concerned about?

I hate to be this transparent, but I can go from zero to freak out in no time at all. If Amy is running late, which with all integrity is often... I'm winking. You can't see, but I'm doing this. I'm winking at her. I get freaked out. I'll look on Find Friends and sometimes her little dot will be like stuck in the middle of the road, and it's not moving. It's not at a light, it's not a sight, it's like not moving. And I'm go, "She's been in a wreck. My wife is dead, she just died". And then I spin out going, "My life is over. There's no one that'll ever be able to replace her. I can't function without her. I won't be able to lead the..."

I am writing my letter of resignation for the church because she's seven minutes late, and then like ridiculous stuff. If things are going pretty well, I'll think to myself, "Well, why am I not worried? There's gotta be something to worry about". I'm worried that I don't have anything to worry about at the moment. It's crazy. When you think about it though, what we worry about shows us a lot about what we believe about God. Think about this. What you worry about the most often reveals where you trust God the least. Whatever you worry about the most is often an indicator of the place where you may not be trusting in the Lord with all your heart. Instead, you're leaning on your own understanding. What I wanna do today is I wanna talk to you about when you want to trust God and when you're trying to trust God, but it's really hard to trust God. I've entitled this message trusting God when you don't understand. And let's all pray.

Father, we thank you that your promises are true, that your word is alive and that you are always faithful. God, would you empower us by the power of the Holy Spirit to learn to put all of our trust in you, to lean on you in all of our ways, to acknowledge you, to put you first and God will trust you to work in our lives, to bring things for good, to make our path straight. Help us God, to trust in you no matter what. We pray this in Jesus' name and all God's people said... Amen.

If you're with us online, type in the comment section, "Amen and amen". We are in a message series called "Think Ahead", loosely based on a book that we released recently, and we're looking at six different characters in the Bible to see how they fought ahead and pre-decided some faith decisions to better honor God. Today, we're gonna look at Hannah from the Old Testament, and we're gonna look at her pre-decision to put her trust in God no matter what she would see. We're gonna start in 1 Samuel 1:2 and see kind of an interesting situation in a marriage. Scripture says this, "Elkanah..." We're gonna see Elkanah was a pretty good old boy, but he had some things to learn about women. First of all, he had two wives, okay? So Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not.

Now according to several commentaries that I read, a lot of scholars believe that is most likely he married Hannah, and Hannah couldn't conceive and he wanted to keep his legacy going. So he probably married Peninnah in order to try to have children and keep his name alive. You can imagine for Hannah how difficult that is. So she's got, you know, her husband, and she can't give him children that she's got this other Peninnah chick that can, and especially when she lived during that time, it was thought that a woman's primary value was from childbearing and culture was mean. If you were a woman who couldn't have children, the culture would say, "You know, you did something wrong. You've sinned, God is punishing you". Or literally, you're cursed by God.

So you can only imagine what's going on in Hannah's mind. She's like, "I wanna give my husband children, I wanna have a baby, but I can't. Did I do something wrong? Is God mad at me? I'm a failure". And she might have felt very ashamed for something that wasn't her fault, but she thought it was her fault. And some of you may be in a similar place right now. You may be in the middle of a trial and you're wondering like, "Is God punishing me for this"? And you're praying that God would deliver you or heal you or help you and he hasn't. And you're wondering, "Did I do something wrong? Is God even real? If he is, does he even care"? In our story, Elkanah, he took his family to the annual worship time for a sacrifice to the temple for worship and to offer the sacrifice. And Peninnah, we're gonna see... She could have starred on "Mean Girls".

She takes the opportunity to throw serious shade on Hannah, and we'll see this in 1 Samuel 1:6-7, watch how mean she is. I mean, this is like you think you got mean people in your family, just, just plain. This is ridiculous, okay? "So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children," that's just mean, "Year after year, it was the same". That phrase really gets me, "Year after year, it was the same. Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the temple. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat". So if you'd imagine, they're loading up on their donkey to go to church and Peninnah is going, "I got babies, and you don't". And year after year, scripture says it was the same. That phrase hits me in a deep emotional spot, and some of you could probably say the same. Year after year, it was the same.

And I don't know what it be for you, but some of you, year after year, you've prayed and believed this would be the year that God would bring supernatural healing. And year after year, it was the same. Year after year, you ask God to heal you of your depression, and you find it even difficult to make it through the day. Year after year, you're worried about money, and you believe that this would be the year that you finally would get ahead. And this is the year you fall even further behind, year after year, you believe God is gonna bring you someone special to spend the rest of your life with. And year after year, you got no good prospects, and you're wondering if there's anybody out there at all. And so you can kind of imagine how Hannah would've felt because all she's doing is asking God to do what he does for almost everybody else, right? God, I just want a baby. God, just give me a child.

She's praying for it, and God doesn't give her the child. Year after year, she prays and waits and hopes. And year after year, it was the same. How do you think she kept her faith in God? How do you think she handled it when people were cruel criticizing her, when God seemed unfair? She made it because she had pre-decided that no matter what she sees, no matter what happens in her life, no matter what God does, or no matter what God does not do, she pre-decided to trust in God, and her trust and her faith grew. Why? Because our trust in God does not grow in good times. When does our trust grow? We learn to trust God in the trials. We learn to trust God when things aren't going the way we want them to go.

And so we see this in her own relationship with God, her husband, I told you Elkanah was a good guy, but this guy, he makes a massive rookie mistake. This is a side point, but gentlemen, do not ever do this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Do not do what he does. He says to his wife, "Hey, Hannah. Why are you crying, Hannah"? Elkanah would ask, "Why aren't you eating"? So she's crying 'cause her little sister wife's going, "You ain't got a baby". And so she's crying about it, he goes, "Why be so downhearted just because you have no children? You have me". Isn't that better than 10 sons? I'm being Elkanah. How dumb can you be? Let's just call it what it is. This guy is not the brightest crayon in the box, right? He's a few fries sorta happy meal. This dude's cheese done slid off the cracker. You got me? Why are you so sad just 'cause you don't have a cute little baby?

You hit the husband jackpot. You should be praising God. You got this stuff going on and it's not in the Bible, but I'll tell you what Hannah said. She looked at him. I am not gonna tell you what she said 'cause there's a reason it's not in the Bible, but it started with, "You wanna rephrase that question"? And then she said, what's not in the Bible, and the reason I know is 'cause Amy said the same thing to me years ago when we had six kids under 11. And I came home and said, "So what'd you do all day"? And then I said, "You hit the husband jackpot," and don't say that guys. This guy is as dumb. And she continues to trust in God even though she's got no baby and even though she's married to an idiot, okay? And the one thing she wants from God, you know, he can give her, and he doesn't give her. And Hannah continues to choose to trust God.

And I like this because instead of turning away from him and going, "God, you're not there for me, you're not faithful". She chooses to turn to him, and we actually see her turn to him and unload on him, which is many times really a good sign. And I'll show you why. Here's what she does. Scripture says, "Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up," and what did she do? She went out to pray. What did she pray to God? Eli, the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. We're gonna see Eli come into the story again in a moment. And Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. What is she saying? We don't know exactly, but maybe it's like, "God, where are you and why haven't you? And I've trusted you and you can and you haven't. And I know you can, and I've been faithful, and I'm believing you and she's got one and I don't. And God, where are you"?

And she's crying out to him in deep and honest anguish. And if you are ever there, I wanna promise you that just because you cry out to God doesn't mean that you don't trust him. In fact, crying out is often a reflection of your desire to keep trusting him. God can handle your honesty, he can handle your emotion. And I promise you, he would rather you run to him in honest pain than turn your back on him when you don't understand. And so she's crying out, "God, where are you"? Whatever it is. And in the middle of her pain, she makes a vow to God, a promise. And here's what she says, "Oh, Lord of Heaven's army, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son," watch what she says, here's your promise, "then I will give him back to you". If you hear my prayer, I will dedicate the entirety of his life to your service.

Oh, God. And as she's in the middle of this sob fest, she's crying out and deep anguish and profound sorrow. Eli the priest talks to her in this unusual interaction and he says to her, "Go in peace and may God grant your request". What's actually happened? Nothing has changed, but the priest says, "God will grant your request". And she replies, "Oh, thank you, sir," she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and say this part aloud with me, "she was sad no longer". She was no longer sad. She still didn't have a baby. She still didn't have her prayer answered, but she was no longer sad. How's that? Because she's still in the same exact place just like some of you, year after year, it's been the same. And you walk into church one way and you're sad, and you may walk out with the exact same situation, but you're no longer sad.

How is that possible? Because she had pre-decided, and in that moment, reaffirmed with everything in her that no matter what happens, she's gonna trust in the Lord with every bit of her heart and lean not on her own understanding of what she thinks should happen and what she would do if she were God, lean not to... But in everything, in all her ways, she would surrender to him, acknowledge him, cry out to him, and he would do what a faithful God will do. What does she do? She cried out to God and was sad no longer. That's trust. Hannah's circumstances did not change, but her heart changed. She put her faith in God. And this next verse is ridiculously emotional to me. Scripture says this, "The entire family got up early the next morning," and what did they do? Let's all say it together. And they went to worship the Lord once more.

Let me ask you again, those of you online, just type this in the comment section. This is profound. This is a reflection of faith. Nothing outwardly had changed, and what did they do? They went to worship the Lord once more. Nothing had changed. The situation was visibly exactly as it was before. God hadn't done anything noticeable, and they went to worship the Lord once more. If we can get really honest and not play like we're super spiritual Christians, it is super hard to trust God when we don't understand. When you know he could do something and he doesn't and you've tried to be faithful and you sought him and you prayed and you fasted and you prayed some more and you begged and you pleaded and you hoped and you did good things for people and you're hoping that you know, hey, give an offering, maybe he'll notice that, God. And you're continue to pray and you continue to pray and God doesn't come through, and they went to worship the Lord once more.

The reason this hits me so deeply, I think there's probably been two times in the last 10 years that I broken down and just sobbed, you know, kind of an ugly cry, uncontrollable, one was like two weeks after my dad's death. I didn't cry, I didn't cry, and then boom, one day, it just hit me. The other time was several weeks back. And there was a situation that I've talked about before and I'm not gonna go into again, but the weight of it hit me so hard. And it was right before church on the weekend when I was supposed to preach back there with Amy, and I'm in my little office, 10 minutes before church, and I was sobbing and sobbing and sobbing and sobbing and sobbing eight minutes before church, six minutes before church, five minutes before church. Church starts and the music's playing, and I can't stop. I got red eyes, I got snot. Sorry about that. It was kind of like... I mean, I had snot everywhere. And I said, "How am I gonna preach"?

And I wiped the tears off, cleaned up as much I could, and Amy and I walked and sat in our normal seat on the front row, and we worshiped the Lord once more. Nothing had changed. But by faith, we praised God like he heard our prayer and answered it. We worshiped the Lord once more. I don't know who this is for, but you've been hanging on, and you're about to give up. And one of the biggest acts of faith is to praise God when you still don't see it, to worship him when you don't feel like it. And just to say, I'm not worshiping you for the what. I'm worshiping for the who, who you are. And you've always been good, and you've always been faithful, and you wipe the tears away, and you lift up your hands toward heaven, and you worship him once more. Because you're not worshiping him for just what you see, you're worshiping for what he says, you're worshiping for his faithfulness because our trust does not grow in the good times.

We learned to trust him in the trials. And scripture says in 1 Samuel 1, here's what happened, "They returned home to Ramah. And when Elkanah slept with Hannah," what does that mean? She actually forgave him for what he said earlier, so they made up. Whatever you're going through in your marriage, there's hope and there's healing in the name of Jesus. Sometimes you gotta forgive. And so she forgave him for that whole better than 10 kids thing. And slept with Hannah, and the Lord remembered her plea. And in due time, she gave birth to a son. In due time. And she named him Samuel, for she said, "I asked the Lord for him".

She named him Samuel. What does Samuel mean? Samuel means heard by God. It means God heard. That's what it means. And so every time she would say her son's name, "Samuel, Hey, Samuel, hey..." Every time she'd say his name, she was saying God heard. She's remembering her trial and remembering the faithfulness of God, that God heard her prayer and God answered it. Every single time, God, you remembered and you heard. Now praise God, hallelujah. You get to worship with the baby, but it kind of raises the question why God takes so long, right? Why didn't he do it years earlier? You want me to tell you why? The answer is I don't have a clue. I didn't study that in seminary. That's above my pay grade. I don't know. I mean, God's ways are higher than our ways, and God might not have done it 'cause other times he didn't.

I don't know why God didn't do what he could have done and did it earlier, but here's what I do know, that through the whole process, she got to a point where she actually dedicated her son, her unborn son to the Lord. If God had given her a baby earlier, she might not have done that. In other words, what I found in my own life is sometimes God needs to do something in me long before he does something for me. Sometimes he's gotta teach me something. He's gotta do something in me to change my heart. If I'm gonna trust in the Lord God with all of my heart because my heart's wicked on his own, and sometimes it needs healing. Maybe there's somebody here God wants to do something in you before he does something for you. And so if you're waiting or if you're sobbing, and you go back and worship the Lord once more, how do you wait well? How do you wait well?

One of the most helpful things for me, I've got this journal, it's a five-year journal. One of the reasons why I have it is because you only have to journal a little bit. That's a day right there. Those of you that journal like 40 pages a day, like I could never do that. So I got an easy one. This is like a beginner's one. And what I like about this one is when I go back and look at... This is August the 10th. This is August 11th. So this is August the 10th, 2017, this 2018, '19, '20, '21. And whenever I go back and look at previous years, on the same day, I see all of my prayer requests. And what happens is on August the 10th in 2017, I was worried about something and not trusting God with it. A year later, I can see that God was actually faithful. And year over year over year, I see the faithfulness of God.

I never know on the day of, but a year or two or three years later, I look back and say, "Oh, God, I still may not understand, but I see your goodness, I see your faithfulness". Because God has been faithful in the past, we can trust him with the future. His word is true, and he is always faithful. I don't know who this is for, but I believe God gave me a word for someone who's waiting right now. God gave me a word for someone who's hurting right now. God gave me a word for someone who's disappointed with God, and I want to tell you and promise you that God has not left you. That he is still here, that he is still good, that he is always faithful, that his promises are true. You can trust him, you can let him back in, you can run to him, you can cry out to him. You can fall upon him. You can cry in deep anguish to him, and then you can worship the Lord once more because he is always good. He is always with you. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you, and Hannah did this. She pre-decided, "I'm gonna trust him no matter what," and then she dedicated her unborn son.

And then she has a son. And she kept her word, and she gave Samuel to the Lord. And what did God do through Samuel? So many things, Eli and Samuel had the experience. God spoke to Samuel, and he interceded on behalf of God's people faithfully. And he became a judge over Israel and ruled. He established a school of prophets. He anointed David as the king of Israel. And through David's lineage, it actually led to the birth of Christ. That whole process led to a point of deeper trust where she could surrender her son and dedicate him faithfully to the work in the ministry of God. And through that faithfulness, God did so much to her son when she learned, what? To trust in the Lord with all of her heart and lean not on her own understanding, but in every single way to acknowledge him, to submit to him, to surrender to him, and he would make her path straight.

I wanna ask somebody here today, what do you think God might do through you if you choose to trust him in your trial? What do you think God might do in you? And God might do through you, and God might do for you if you choose to trust him in your trial. God help us to trust in you with every bit of our hearts because you're good. Your promises are true, and you're always faithful. All of our churches and those of you online, would you just go before God with me in prayer.

Heavenly Father, build our faith. God, for those who are waiting and hurting and questioning, do a healing work just like you did in Hannah, even though nothing has changed yet, that we're sad no more, that we worship you again.

As you're praying and reflecting today, I want you to be... Let's just do this. Let's open up our eyes if you don't mind. We're the body of Christ, and I want to be able to pray for each other. Those of you right now, let's call it what it is. Don't act super spiritual. There's something that's weighing on you. It's a heavy, it's a burden, it's a worry. It's a concern. I've got one. My hands are the first one up. Those of you say that that's you. Would you lift up your hands right now? Go and lift them up. Leave them up online, just type "I have a burden" in the comments. Lift 'em up if you will. If you wouldn't mind, can you just reach out appropriately and maybe put your hand on the shoulder of someone in front of you or besides you. And we're just gonna pray together as the family of God, just reaching out to somebody nearby.

And God, with the laying on of hands, we come before you as people hurting, needing you. And God, we just acknowledge sometimes it's really, really hard to trust you. We can't see you. We don't know what you're doing. We don't understand all your purposes. But God, we pre-decide. We choose to put our faith in you and God at this moment as we're just feeling the touch of another human being. Help us to feel the touch of your hand, your supernatural love for us, your providence. God, we thank you that you're working in all things to bring about good to those who love you and are called according to your purpose. God, we just acknowledge that your ways are higher than our ways, that you have a bigger picture. God help us to trust in you. God, in this moment with our children, with our health, with our finances, with our relationships, with our careers, with our spiritual life, with our fears, with our mental health issues, God, with whatever is weighing on us, help us to trust in you with every bit of our hearts. We cry out to you. In deep anguish, we cry out to you. And God, we thank you that you hear the cries of our hearts. God, I pray that you'd lift our heads or rejoin our hearts. God, I pray for those who walked in sad that they would be sad no more, and we would worship you once again 'cause you are always good and always faithful.

As you keep praying today, you can remove your hand if you don't wanna be awkward for the rest of the time, it's all right. Keep praying. Nobody looking around today. Let me ask you this question. On a scale of one to 10, how confident are you that if your life was over, you would be right with God? A scale of one to 10, scale of one to 10, how confident are you? If you're not a 10 today, I wanna talk to you. You're 7, 5, 8, whatever. If you're not a 10 today, I want to talk to you. We are never made right with God by our own good works. Every single one of us, we've all sinned. You've sinned, I've sinned. And our sin separates us from the holiness of God.

But God's love is so amazing and it's so personal that he didn't tell us that he loved us from heaven, but he showed his love on earth. He sent his son Jesus, who was perfect in every way, and Jesus came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who was without sin gave his life on a cross. He died. And three days later, God raised Jesus from the dead so that anyone, and this includes you, doesn't matter what you've done, anyone who calls on the name of the Lord that you would be saved, scripture says this, that if you believe in your heart, that God raised Jesus from the dead, and you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you'll be saved.

If you surrender to the Lordship of Christ, your sins are forgiven. They're not held against you. That means you're heaven bound. You belong to God. You're a child of God. That means if I ask you a scale of one to 10, how sure are you? You say 10. If you say anything less than 10, let's make it a 10. Step away from your sin. Step toward the grace of Jesus Christ, call on him. And when you do, God hears your prayers and you become new. Everything else is gone, and you become new. Today at all of our churches or wherever you're watching from, you're less than a 10, let's make it a 10 today. You need his grace.

You say, "I know I've sinned. I want his forgiveness". Today, we're just gonna step away from your sin. We're gonna repent of it, and we're gonna surrender our lives, all of it to Jesus. We're gonna trust in him and him alone for our salvation. Those who say, "I need that, I want that. I wanna be a 10. I wanna be sure I wanna belong to him. I need Jesus. I need his forgiveness. I'm ready to surrender my life to him". That's your prayer today. Would you lift your hands high right now. All over the place, lift them up right there. Praise God for you, over there. Others, have you lift them up? Right back here. Come on. Lift your hands high today and say, "Yes, I need Jesus". Others today, that's your prayer. Online, you can type in the comment section, "I'm surrendering my life to Jesus". And as we have many people here and people around the world, let's all pray together. Just pray aloud. Pray:

Heavenly Father, I'm ready to trust you to forgive my sins. To trust Jesus. To be the Lord of my life. To be my savior. To trust your Holy Spirit. To fill me. So I could know you. And live for you. My life is no longer my life. I give it all to you. I surrender. Use my life to glorify you. Thank you for new life. For forgiveness, for salvation. I give you all of mine. In Jesus' name, I pray.

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