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Leave the Results in God’s Hands

Pray and do your part, then trust God

Doug Britton, MFT

Page Summary

Part 4 of a 4-part series on “Trusting God”

Part 1      Part 2      Part 3

Introduction: Did Stephen fail when he was killed?

About 2,000 years ago, a man named Stephen gave a speech about Jesus to a group of Jewish leaders. It was a hard-hitting speech, and his listeners became enraged. In fact, they were so angry that they dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death (Acts 7:1-60).

Looking at the results, you might think Stephen wasn’t a very successful public speaker. After all, his listeners killed him. But he didn’t fail. He did exactly what he was supposed to do.

The results might not have been what he hoped for, yet his martyrdom—and the way he prayed for his killers as he died (Acts 7:60)—have been an inspiration to millions of people.

Trust God himself, not what you would like him to do

I often pray for God’s guidance, help, and protection, and he has often answered my prayers in amazing ways. However, on many occasions he hasn’t answer my prayers the way I wanted.

If you have also experienced “unanswered” prayers, remember the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3:17-18). When they were thrown into the furnace, they trusted God even though they didn’t know if he would deliver them or if they would burn up.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. (Daniel 3:17-18)

Related: Depend on God’s power

God sees the big picture.

God sees the big picture much better than we do. Being a Christian is not the same thing as being in an army. However, an analogy that might help is to look at a soldier who is serving under a great general. The soldier cannot understand the complete battle plan. But he or she doesn’t need to. The soldier’s responsibility is to perform his or her role, trusting that the general sees the big picture.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Related: God’s purpose for your life

Sometimes God protects us, sometimes he doesn’t.

God helped Jesus escape harm many times (John 7:30, 8:20, 8:59, 10:31, and 10:39), yet eventually he was crucified. Likewise, God protected Paul sometimes, yet other times Paul was severely mistreated (2 Corinthians 11:22-33).

Sometimes we prosper, sometimes we don’t. Even when we don’t prosper, we can trust God.

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights … (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)

Trust God’s timing.

Even when God intervenes miraculously, his timing may be very different from ours. We want immediate action, yet sometimes it takes many years to see the results.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Remember God’s character.

Although you may not always understand the big picture, you can trust God because you know that he knows the big picture, and he loves you much more than you can easily understand.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Trust God: Put people in his hands

As Christians, we are called to love everyone (Ephesians 5:1-2) and to help others (Philippians 2:3-4). But sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by the problems faced by our family and friends, not to mention the massive numbers of problems throughout the world.

Don’t take too much responsibility for others’ happiness.

Comfort and encourage others, pray for them, and ask God if there are steps you could take to help. But don’t take total responsibility for other people’s decisions or happiness.

Along the same lines, don’t try to help everyone who has needs. There are too many hurting people! Instead, ask God to help you know when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”

Pray for peace and joy.

Paul lived a life of service to our Lord and to other people. Yet he also lived a joyful life and encouraged us to do the same (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

God offers you a close friendship with him and an abundant, joyful life, regardless of your circumstances—or the experiences of others. Love people and pray for them, but don’t carry the weight of too much responsibility. Ask God to help you put people in his hands, and to help you know his joy and peace.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Related: Living a joyful life

Trust God, but also do your part

Trusting God may mean quietly waiting for a miracle and not doing anything to bring it about. However, you may have a part to play.


Throughout the Bible, we are instructed to pray for others and for ourselves. When you pray, also ask God if there is anything he wants you to do in the situation.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Ask others to pray.

In addition to praying yourself, ask others to pray. Paul often asked fellow believers to pray for him. God answered these prayers, although they did not guarantee that Paul would live a trouble-free life.

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. (Romans 15:30-32)

And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. (2 Thessalonians 3:2)

Take action.

A man once parked his recreational vehicle in our church parking lot. He said he was trusting God to provide food for him, which really meant that he was counting on people to bring him food. He completely misunderstood what it meant to trust God.

Although the Bible calls us to help the hungry or poor, it also says that people must work if they can.

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)

If you are unemployed, don’t simply pray and wait for a miracle. Look for a job. If you are sick, pray, but also see a doctor.

If people in your neighborhood are hungry, help them or donate food to a local food closet.

If you are concerned about the government, vote and pray about getting involved politically.

What do you think?

8. Does trusting God mean never taking action? Why or why not?

9. Can you think of a time when you should trust God, but also take action? Explain your answer.

Trust God to use you

Have you ever tried to do a good job at something—perhaps as an employee, pastor, spouse, or parent—but the results were not great, and you felt like a failure?

Or have you ever done something really wrong (perhaps having spent many years in prison)? Or have you ever felt insignificant and that your life doesn’t matter?

Whatever your history, I’d like to encourage you—what you do next matters.

God has a plan and purpose for your life. It is to grow closer to him and to look for ways to share his love with others. Whoever you are, whatever you have done, or however old you are, never think your life doesn’t matter. It does. 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

Memory verse

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

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About Doug Britton, MFT

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)

Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.

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