Monday, February 11, 2008
The way to measure His love
In yesterday’s Bible class, one of the women shared how she was taught in the country of her birth that there is no God. She also said that it was hard to believe in God when their lives back in that country were filled with so many difficulties.
Today’s devotional reading begins with, “Some people can never believe that God loves them when their circumstances are contrary.”
How true. The other women in the class quickly responded saying that they also had trouble trusting God in adversity. It is not cultural, but a universal struggle. Besides, the first lie suggested by Satan in the garden of Eden was something like, If God really wants the best for you, He would not withhold good things from you. He knows that if you eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, you will be like Him. If God really loved you, He would want you to have it, not forbid you from eating it.
When this young woman shared her faith barrier, my mind quickly went to verses in the Bible that say the proof of God’s love is not in life’s circumstances, but the fact that He sent His Son to die for our sin. If we assume His love is shown only by the comfort He gives us, then base our faith in Him on that, such faith will turn off and on continually. Even if things do go well, life on this earth is affected by of the sinfulness of man. We will always have difficulties because of sin, so in love, God first offers us the remedy for sin.
God the Son came to earth and died that we might be forgiven and transformed. After we accept His redemption, He works to change us. He might even use difficult circumstances to do it, but if we measure His love by those, we will never be sure if He cares. But if we measure it by the Cross and the sacrifice of His life so we could be set free from sin, then we know.
God is Enough says the same thing. “If we rely on circumstances, in the slightest degree, as the groundwork of our confidence or our joy, we are sure to come to grief.” Yet if we remember that He saved us and let that be the gauge of His love, then we can “say with the prophet, ‘Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stall: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation’ (Habakkuk 3:17–18).”
Why then does this God who loves us so much allow difficulties, disappointment and failure in the lives of those who follow Him? My devotional writer suggests that because my soul is made for rejoicing in God alone and “can never find rest short of it,” then all of His dealings with me are shaped to that end. If necessary, I will be deprived of all joy in everything else—that I might discover He is enough and that my greatest joy is only in God.
I’m not sure the woman in my class understood our responses to her. She says she is not a Christian, yet she faithfully attends so she can study the Bible with us. As I watch her puzzle over the ideas presented to her, I’m impressed as she honestly shares her difficulties and progress with believing in God. I’m also impressed with God as He draws her back again and again, each week giving her something to consider about Himself. May His love for her become clearer and may we be faithful to lift up Christ as the measurement.