My mother has kept the same article from a church newsletter in her Bible since the 1970s. On the yellowing paper with tattered edges are the reflections of a woman who attended my mother’s church. She wrote from her hospital bed, and her name was Linda Harry—a woman who walked wisely.
Linda had a rare environmental disease that required her to live in a sterile environment. She was allergic to almost everything. In fact, because she was allergic to printer’s ink, her church family wrote out most of the Bible for her—in pencil. Linda’s condition was so severe that it would sometimes throw her into a coma. One of few foods she could eat was raw goat’s milk cheese. No cow’s milk was allowed. Tragically, on one occasion she ate some goat’s milk cheese that was supposed to be pure, but it wasn’t. It contained 5% cow’s milk.
Linda became violently ill and could not tolerate any food for two weeks. She was flown to a Houston hospital for special tests and treatments, and from there she wrote her thoughts about this significant setback in her life. Linda’s words were printed in her church newsletter back in California:
“I began to ask God why. Why hadn’t He protected me from this? If I’ve learned one thing from my beloved Prophets, it’s whenever I ask why, first look at God’s character and then His works done in the past. So I began to analyze it. (1) God is sovereign. Therefore, it was not outside of His control to have prevented all this. So, it was part of His plan. (2) God knows everything. So, He knew there was cow’s milk in it, and He knew what it would do to me. It was no surprise to Him! (3) God is all-powerful. So, He could have prevented this whole thing in any number of ways. (4) God is love. He really cares about every detail of my life, even this. So, He must know it is for my highest good, or He would and could have prevented it. He only gives in love—no other choice. (5) God doesn’t change. If it was true once, it is always true. He is always faithful, the same as He was to Israel. (6) God is merciful. I can never know what other options were available for God to choose from, but that His mercy was more than sufficient for me. He cares tenderly and intimately for me in His great mercy, protecting me from what I could not take. This far—no farther. With a God like that on my side, the why doesn’t seem very necessary to know because I know Him.”
To trust God, we must have the correct view of Him. It cannot be stressed enough: if we have a faulty view of God, then our faith in Him will be weak and easily shattered. We must acknowledge and believe the truth about God’s character in order to steadfastly trust Him in our suffering. As King David wrote in Psalm 9:9-10, “The Lord will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; and those who know Your name will put their trust in You. For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”
In her reflections, Linda mentioned several attributes of God that are essential to one’s understanding of the trustworthiness of God. I would like to share with you definitions of these attributes from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Meditate on these attributes and related Scriptures. Think on God in all His glorious wonder and perfection, and your trust in Him will be strengthened as you see Him as He really is–even in your suffering.
God is . . .
Sovereign (Providence): “God’s sovereignty is his exercise of rule (as “sovereign” or “king”) over his creation” (217). “God is continually involved with all created things in such a way that he keeps them existing and maintaining the properties with which he created them; cooperates with created things in every action, directing their distinctive properties to cause them to act as they do; and directs them to fulfill his purposes” (315).
“The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9)
All-Knowing (Omniscience): “God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act” (190).
“God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.” (I John 3:20)
All-powerful (Omnipotence): “God’s omnipotence means that God is able to do all his holy will” (216).
” You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)
Love: “God’s love means that God eternally gives of himself to others” (198).
“The life which I now live I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Unchanging: “God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes, and promises” (163).
“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart from generation to generation.” (Psalm 33:11)
Merciful: “God’s mercy means God’s goodness toward those in misery and distress” (200).
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34:6)
Next post in God is Trustworthy series:
“So, What Does Real Trust Look Like?”