Life, Hope & Truth

Depending on God

The Bible gives many examples of the benefits of depending on God. He is completely dependable. Learning to fully rely on God is a vital aspect of faith.

There are times when you just can’t possibly do anything more.

King Hezekiah was at that point. Surrounded and besieged by the powerful Assyrian army of Sennacherib, Hezekiah had dug a tunnel to protect the city’s water supply, fortified the walls and prepared the army. He had done everything that could physically be done to preserve Israel—and it still wasn’t enough.

Sennacherib sent one of his chief officers to threaten Hezekiah and to warn the kingdom of Judah of its impending doom (Isaiah 36).

Upon hearing the words of Sennacherib’s officer, Hezekiah knew what he needed to do: he fell to his knees and prayed to God in faith (Isaiah 37:14-20). He fully depended on God. In doing so, he turned to a power that Assyria could not rival or comprehend.

In response to Hezekiah’s prayer, God wiped out 185,000 enemy soldiers in a single night and turned back the mighty Assyrian army (Isaiah 37:36-38).

God is great!

Hezekiah’s most important action in the entire affair was not fortifying the walls, securing his water source or arming his city. The action that made the difference was Hezekiah’s prayer and that he was depending on God for the victory. This was based on a powerful realization: God is much greater than man.

What Hezekiah could never have accomplished in a million lifetimes, God did in a single night. Although God obviously has no literal weaknesses, Paul expressed in human terms that God, at His weakest, is far greater than mankind at his very best (1 Corinthians 1:25). All of the nations, with their power and splendor, are no more significant than a drop of water in a bucket compared to God (Isaiah 40:15).

We can depend on God

When we consider the power of God, it should only seem natural that we depend on Him as Hezekiah did. Instead, mankind often avoids looking to Him and instead finds something inferior to trust in.

Ancient Israel was a nation that should have known that they could depend on God. They had seen the mighty Egyptian empire destroyed by a series of 10 supernatural plagues. They had watched God annihilate the feared army of Egypt in a spectacular miracle at the Red Sea. The Israelites had even been through numerous battles that demonstrated God’s power and faithfulness.

When the time came to take a leap of faith, however, they failed. Instead of depending on God for help to conquer their new lands, they cried and declared it hopeless. They listened to 10 faithless spies and ignored God’s specific promises to help them as they fought (Numbers 14).

Bible verses about relying on God not man

The Bible makes clear that instead of relying on people, we’re much better off depending on God.

Psalm 118:8-9 says, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.”

Psalm 146:3-6 adds, “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish.

“Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps truth forever.”

In the book of Jeremiah, God is even more explicit: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes. …

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes” (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

The dangers of relying on others, ourselves or things

Yet often it seems easier to depend on other people for help instead of going to God. Humans, whether good or bad, are visible, while God is invisible and often works behind the scenes.

Even if we know how powerful God is and have experienced His wonderful deliverance before, it can be easy to turn back to people during our next hardship.

This was what happened in the tragic life of King Asa.

Asa, a powerful king of Judah, had watched God perform a mighty military victory for him against Ethiopia (2 Chronicles 14). Years later, a similar challenge came from neighboring Israel. But instead of turning to God, this time Asa chose to ally himself with Syria, an enemy of God (2 Chronicles 16:1-6).

One of the most common mistakes made throughout human history is depending on our own strength. It can be easy to see ourselves as invincible and able to do anything, but the sad reality is that we’re frail, limited humans. Even at our best, we can be one moment away from irreparable tragedy.

The only sure thing that we can fully depend on—that we know will never let us down—is our unfailing God!For this reason, the Bible sees those who rely on their own strength instead of God as laughable (Psalm 52:6-7).

Even more foolish than depending on ourselves is depending on physical things. Many depend on money, which represents wealth and security. Others depend on hoarding and stockpiling physical supplies that will eventually run out or decay. Some even depend on physical images that people have shaped and formed. These idols are not capable of helping us, and to depend on them is the height of folly (Psalm 135:15-18).

The only sure thing that we can fully depend on—that we know will never let us down—is our unfailing God!

Benefits of depending on God

There’s no doubt about the power and might of God and His ability to help us, regardless of our situation. We can depend on God in our hard times and severe trials. Other times, our circumstances might seem trivial—too trivial to bother a God who “removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:21).

Yet the Bible tells us to cast “all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). It actively encourages us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). God is powerful enough to handle our hard times as well as our small problems.

When we go to God in prayer and place a matter in His hands, God can handle it in any number of ways. Sometimes those ways are obvious and clearly miraculous. Other times, they are more subtle, but just as wonderful.

Here are three ways God helps when we depend on Him.

  1. God fights our battles for us.

Sometimes God decides to take the matter completely out of our hands, particularly if the trouble is too great for us to handle. There are many examples throughout Israel’s history when God did this. The nation of Israel started out with such a miracle at the Red Sea, where God miraculously destroyed the army of Egypt (despite Israel’s lack of faith) in order to deliver His people (Exodus 14).

During the time of the judges, Israel again needed a miraculous deliverance. Working with a man named Gideon, God made sure that Israel knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was God who had delivered them by having only 300 men go against an innumerable army (Judges 7).

God caused fear and confusion to strike the enemy army before Gideon even had a chance to raise His sword, and He enabled Israel to gain the victory that day.

  1. God helps those who help themselves.

Depending on God isn’t always a matter of washing our hands of all responsibility. Many times we still have to do our part, and then God blesses our efforts. Acknowledging that the final outcome is in God’s capable hands, we still do all that we can toward that outcome.

If we have done nothing to prepare for an exam or job interview, for example, we can’t assume God will miraculously make up for our lack of preparation. God does expect us to do our part. Once we do, God can bless our efforts in ways that we cannot imagine, as He did with the widowed Ruth. (For more on Ruth, read our article “Ruth” in the “Women of Faith” section.)

  1. God provides the strength we need.

There are also times when depending on God doesn’t seem to work. There are times when we ask God for help on our job, and then we’re fired. Or we pray for a loved one, but the loved one remains ill or dies.

Situations like these don’t mean that God has let us down or dropped out of our lives. He’s still there, but He is working things out differently than we had expected or desired.

Times like these hurt. There can be moments when we think we’re going to break because the pain is so great. Like Job, we can feel completely abandoned by God and wonder where He’s at. It can be all too easy to give up, to decide that depending on God doesn’t work.

The truth is that these are the times when we must depend on God the most. He’s still there, still working with us. Instead of preventing the trial, however, He has decided in His extraordinary wisdom to take us through it.

God doesn’t promise that it’ll be easy, but if you humbly and obediently depend on Him, He promises that He’ll get you through it.In times like these, there are a number of encouraging scriptures that we can study (see our section on “Encouraging Bible Verses”).

One of the most encouraging scriptures to consider when we’re tempted to give up is 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

God doesn’t promise that it’ll be easy, but if you humbly and obediently depend on Him, He promises that He’ll get you through it.

Depending on God day by day

We generally think of depending on God in hard times and in trials—which we certainly should do. But relying on our Creator isn’t limited only to times of hardship. Instead, God wants us to depend on Him for all of our needs day by day.

When Israel was in the wilderness and worried about starving to death, God provided the people with manna from heaven to keep them going. He didn’t give them all the manna they would ever need in one batch, or even a week’s worth. Instead, God provided Israel with the manna on a day-by-day basis for 40 years (Exodus 16).

Spiritually, the lesson is the same. Jesus Christ talked about the manna God gave Israel and then said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:32, 35). Just as ancient Israel had to rely on God for their daily bread, we need to go to God every single day.

We are to depend on God at all times, not just during our times of dire need (Psalm 62:8).

Dependent, not complacent

One of the greatest dangers that we face is becoming complacent—not recognizing our complete and utter need for God. It is all too easy to become comfortable with God’s blessings and forget that He is the source of all the good we have (Isaiah 17:10).

If we forget God, we can end up assuming that we—frail, helpless, dependent human beings—accomplished all of the good in our lives and that we’re worthy of the credit (Deuteronomy 8:11-17).

When we become complacent, we make foolish mistakes. Instead of depending on God, we start to make decisions without Him, pursuing our own will and doing things on our own. Often, this leads us deeper into sin and away from God’s will.

We have to remember that God is our Creator and the source of all of our blessings. It’s our responsibility to thank Him, praise Him and depend on Him every day.

About the Author

Joshua Travers

Joshua Travers

Joshua Travers grew up and lives in Athens, Ohio. He graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in social studies and Spanish education from Ohio University. He also studied theology at Foundation Institute, Center for Biblical Education, in Allen, Texas and graduated with a certificate in biblical studies in May 2017.

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