In the garden of Eden, where all was right and every need met, Satan convinced Eve that God did not really love her and want the best for her. By believing this lie, Eve along with Adam committed the first sin.
It is no wonder that we, who live in an imperfect world, question the love of God during trials. If a sinless person in a perfect world could fall for that lie, what can stop us from doing the same?
Israel fell for it, many times. In the last Old Testament book, Malachi, God challenges His people. “‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. ‘Yet you say, “In what way have You loved us?” ‘Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?’ says the Lord. ‘Yet Jacob I have loved; but Esau I have hated . . . .’”
The language here is not about emotion, but about God’s choice of one family line over the other for a covenant relationship with Himself. Yet even though He selected Israel to be His people, they continually expressed doubt about His love and constantly challenged it.
God was just as persistent in expressing His love by reminding them of His choice of them. As my study Bible comments, “No one should conclude that God does not love His people because He afflicted them, but rather He loves them because He elected them.”
I’m not a big-picture person. I hone in on details, like close-ups, and have trouble grasping a larger perspective. It is easier writing short stories than novels, and I’d rather sit at the bottom of a mountain looking at the wild flowers than be at the top looking at the view.
But being a Christian means learning to keep the big picture in mind, having an eternal perspective. If my life could be put on a line, the line never ends and the time I spend here is but a small blip. I have an eternity of perfection to look forward to.
As Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Keeping that eternal perspective is vital, particularly as the “light afflictions” here on earth start to tip towards the heavy side. For me, the best way to keep that perspective is by thinking about the gospel and being constantly thankful that the love of God has been fully expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—and by remembering that God picked me. He had no reason to chose me to be His child; He just did.
I keep going back to Romans 8, a constant affirmation of God’s purposes for my life. He declares that He uses all things, even the rough stuff, for my good (to make me more like Jesus), and ends the chapter with these wonderful words:
“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”