Is Trusting God an Option? Book review

Being taught how to trust God by someone who believes trusting God is optional might sound a little kooky (because it is), but that is exactly what Joyce Meyer fans are doing when they read her newest book, Unshakeable Trust.  In the second paragraph of her introduction she states, “. . . trust is not an obligation that we owe God; it is a privilege that He makes available to us.” (p. vii) That one statement makes me want to fill this page with reasons why we should trust God, why it is imperative to the Christian faith that we trust God, but there are a few more contentions that I have with this book that need to be pointed out.

The first couple of pages of the first chapter didn’t send up any major red flags but by the third page she again asserts that, “there is no reason to be condemned if your trust in God is not perfected yet.” (p.3) While I can agree that trusting God isn’t easy, I don’t think it is wise to imply that it isn’t a big deal if you’re not trusting God.  Jesus commands that we trust Him. “. . . Do not fear, only believe” Mark 5:36.  It is not optional.  If ever you find yourself not trusting God to take care of you, then you should open your bible or pray, or do both.

The second contention I have with Meyer’s teaching is when she is talking about God’s character. She states, “. . . He works in our behalf and brings justice in our situation.” (p.4) This is how she interprets Hebrews 10:30, and after reading this verse I failed to see God talking about bringing justice to my situation.  What it is actually talking about is salvation and the assurance of it.  Again, we have an example of changing the context by only quoting one verse.  If you read Hebrews 10:30, then back up to verse 19 and read to the end of the chapter, you’ll see what I mean.

The last thing that I take issue with is Meyer’s belief that faith is what you have while you wait for God to give you what you want, which is the whole premise of the Word of Faith movement.  She states, “One of the reasons why trusting God can be challenging is because He doesn’t always immediately give us what we ask for.” (p.5) She also says, “God is waiting to help you and me, and all we need to do is trust Him to do so.” (ibid) Basically, people are having “faith” because they have gotten and/or will get something in return.   This is made evident in her story about dishtowels.

“Anytime I am having difficulty trusting God, I remember things He has done for me in the past and I am reassured that He will do it again.  I have kept journals for forty years, and I ran across one recently from the 1970’s, when I asked God to provide me with a dozen new dishtowels.  Dave and I had no money to purchase them, and since I was just beginning my journey of trusting God, I approached Him as a little child and asked for them.  Imagine my elation when a few weeks later, a woman I was barely acquainted with showed up at my door and said, ‘I hope you don’t think I’m crazy, but I kept feeling that God wanted me to bring you some new dishtowels!’ I got so excited that she was shocked until I explained to her that I had asked God to provide them.  That is one of my vivid experiences with the faithfulness of God, and there have been many others through the years.” (p.5)

While I like to give credit to God for everything that I have, I do not base my faith in what I have received.  God has done so much more than provide Joyce Meyer with dishtowels.  He is so much bigger than my little problems, He has overcome the world (John 16:33).  I don’t really need to look back at my own life to see what God has done, He already gave His son so that I can live (1 John 4:9).  Also, not all prayers are answered in the way we might expect.  God is sovereign and will act in accordance with His own plan, not ours.

The book is entitled Unshakeable Trust, but Meyer’s definition of faith seems to fit more in with the WOF movement and prosperity gospel than what real faith is.  “When Job’s wife said Curse God and die” (Job 2:9), Job rebuked her saying, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).  This foolish woman, and I’m speaking about Meyer now, spends a lot of time talking about good reasons to trust God and all of the wonderful things that will come of it.  However real trust and faith in God happens when you praise Him in the troubled times as much as the good times.  “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

I would love to see more examples of true faith.  I want to see examples of people who praise His name during the storms.  I once went on a mission trip to help rebuild houses after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.  I remember vividly when one of my group members asked a woman how she was doing.  Her response was, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.”  Her house had been ruined by the floods but she had friends and she had skills and most importantly, she had faith that God was in control.  Faith isn’t waiting for something, it’s seeing God in every aspect of your life right now.

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