Tag Archives: God’s love

God’s Love Doesn’t Negate the Possibility of Suffering

I’m currently teaching my way through the book of Mark in the New Testament  at my church. I want to pass along something about God’s love that many people seem to miss.

When Jesus was baptized, his Father revealed a big part of his heart by what he said. If I  had to imagine what God might say to Jesus in that moment, it would be something like, “I have called you to save the world. It will require all that you have, but I send you forth!” That’s a very functional message and it shows a bit of who I am: task oriented.

But to the contrary, Jesus’ Father wasn’t task oriented at all. He was very relational and affirming, saying:

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 

Can God’s Love Allow Suffering?

What’s striking to me is what follows:

 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. Mark 1:12,13

​God immediately put Jesus in a place of suffering, isolation, and temptation. The mention of the wild animals just added to the scary and unpredictable nature of being in the wilderness.

It’s hard for many people to grasp that God allows suffering. In their mind, suffering negates the possibility of God’s love for them. They are convinced that if God loves them he will never allow them to suffer. When bad things happen they are quick to question and doubt God’s love, if not his very existence. Their faith rises and falls on their circumstances. They feel close to God when things are good. They feel far from God when things are bad.

​What we have to remember is that we live in a broken world. Someday God will set all things right. He will judge the wicked and reward the righteous. There will be no more death or sickness. All suffering will cease. Until then, his only promise is to be WITH US in our suffering, not rescue us from all suffering.

God’s Love Does Not Guarantee We Will Not Suffer

When Jesus walked the earth his healings and miracles were not guarantees that all believers would experience these things on earth. They were only a promise of the hope Jesus offered his believers who followed him to the end of time. His miracles were a snapshot of heaven to come.

It’s in these hard times that we see the reality of God the most. God wants to prove his faithfulness to us and have us prove to ourselves that, with his help, we can face anything.

Notice how the text above ends by saying that angels attended Jesus. That means they served him or supported him during his temptations so he could overcome the temptations.

It’s in these hard times that we see the reality of God the most. God wants to prove his faithfulness to us and have us prove to ourselves that, with his help, we can face anything.

If you are going through a hard time, trust that Jesus is with you to comfort you, guide you, and sustain you through it. He has even sent his angels to support you. ​

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Don’t Let Your Shame Block God’s Love

Last Sunday I spoke about an aspect of God’s love that I have never spoken about before. Most believers understand that God loves them. They can quote the Bible verses. But many believersshame-652499_640 are never able to receive God’s love because they don’t think they deserve it. In their mind, God’s love is for people who have cleaned up their act.

But there’s an inherent problem to this kind of thinking: you can’t clean up your act without God’s love. If you insist on becoming a better person so God can love you, that “carrot” will always be in front of you. You’ll never get there. You’ve consigned yourself to your own personal “hell,” but you don’t even know what you’ve done because you think you know all about God’s love.

Yes, you KNOW about it. You haven’t RECEIVED it. You need to let the knowledge drop from your head to your heart and bring the healing that’s needed.

The issue is: we receive God’s love on our good days…when we are doing well. But we don’t receive God’s love when we need it the most…when we screw up and fail miserably. We resist the invasion of God’s love because we don’t think God wants to/ or is able to come into our unholy place.

You’ve consigned yourself to your own personal “hell,” but you don’t even know what you’ve done because you think you know all about God’s love.

A good example is something that happened to me 20 years ago. I had done my initial study of shame (which I’ve written about since). I realized that shame was not just a topic for other people. Shame was MY issue. My dad shamed me and I faithfully passed it on to my kids.

I felt sick about it for three months. It haunted me. I felt like I had passed on an incurable disease that would affect my kids forever. But then it dawned on me that hating myself and being depressed wasn’t doing anything productive. It only made things worse.  It wasn’t helping my kids to continually beat myself up and live under the weight of guilt. I was letting my shame rob from me again. How ironic!

So I decided to agree with God and forgive myself. If he could love me in my failure, then I could too. I stopped berating myself and owned my shame, talked to my kids about it, and actively sought to not only change my behavior but teach what I learned to others. Instead of wallowing in self-pity I broke the cycle of shame that my dad passed onto me. That’s a good thing! That’s something I am proud of doing.

I mention this because you might do the same thing…beat yourself up over failure and not allow God to love you and forgive you. But if you want to find the freedom that God has for you, that needs to happen. Just think whom you might become if you loved yourself like God does?

You can download Sunday’s message here. 

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Download your free copy.

I gave away my book on Sunday that deals with overcoming shame. I want to do the same here. Click this link: Healing the Hurts of Your Past. I hope you’ll read it and post a link to the book on Facebook so your friends will read it too!  Why give it away? That’s simple: more people will read it. More people will discover how shame has diminished them and the people around them. And hopefully, more people will find the same freedom I have found.

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Relationship, not Behavior, is God’s Priority

behavior

God’s love draws us to him.
Our good behavior doesn’t draw him to us.

You might find this hard to believe, but the Bible tells us that when you and I go astray, God’s first priority isn’t to get our behavior in line. Did you know that? God’s first priority is to reestablish our relationship with him. God’s love draws us to him. Our good behavior doesn’t draw him to us.

God knows that if he can help restore your relationship with him that your behavior will eventually follow. But if he focuses on your behavior, your guilt will push you away from him. It’s counterproductive.

A party for a prodigal.

You might know the story of the prodigal son that Jesus told…the son that ran away from home to live the party life only to return home when his money ran out.

The shock of that story is the boy didn’t return to an angry dad who punished him for his behavior like you’d expect. The boy returned to a dad that met him at the gate of the city with a hug and a kiss and a ring and a cloak and then threw a party for him.

Jesus used that story to teach us how God thinks about sin and guilt. Most dads wouldn’t welcome home their runaway son with a party! But God isn’t like that. He’s much more interested in his relationship to you than he is in getting you to obey a list of rules. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care about rules. They have their place. It’s just not the first thing on his mind.

God’s kindness draws us to him, not our good behavior.

The first thing on God’s mind is to be your friend: to establish relationship. Then he works with you to address your behavior.  The Bible tells us, “God’s kindness leads you back to God.” (Romans 2:4)

When you know that God is for you and not against you then you are confident to turn to him even when you’ve failed miserably. That’s why the Bible calls us to,

…come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. Hebrews 4:16

If God’s grace sounds like something you need right now, this verse gives you the confidence you need to ask for it. Can you think of a good reason to wait?

This post is adapted from “Forgiven…once and for all”. Get your free copy by subscribing to this blog.

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