“When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.” Psalms 56:9
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
It must be the default method of human nature to question the love and goodness of God when going through difficult times. I have heard it so many times – the question: “If God is a God of love then why did….” The blank is filled in with some tragedy, some heartbreak or some disaster story from last night’s evening news. Yes, I have heard ‘the question’ many times; but in full disclosure here, I have asked the question myself – more than once.
As I look back on my life I am disappointed to say that there have been many times I have questioned God’s love for me. The Bible says that every single day we are blessed by a loving God. The Bible says that His mercies are new “every morning’ (Lamentations 3:23). Every breath I take is a gift from God. Why then is it that in times of difficulty it is so easy to start questioning if God loves me? Have you been there? Why do we as Christians – saved from the penalty of sin and spared from eternity in Hell question God’s love when things get difficult? I have found five trigger points that cause there to be a question of God’s love and goodness.
1. We don’t ‘know’ God
This can be true on two different levels. First of all, for a new believer, a relationship with God is new. A Christian who has just found forgiveness of her sins and placed her dependence in Christ’s work on the cross is finding out about this God who loves her and growing in her relationship with Him. Satan loves to put a question mark over the goodness of God. Many times this can happen shortly after salvation when something happens in their lives and suddenly the God whom they just came to know in salvation weeks earlier appears to be in judgment of them; making the new relationship with God appears unstable and God self serving and far removed.
This can also happen to those of us who have been saved for some time. Yes, we are saved; but we don’t really ‘know’ God. We have not spent time cultivating a relationship with Him; and when trouble comes Satan throws a great big question mark over God’s head and we start doubting God’s love and goodness to us. It’s a tactic of the devil that we have seen since the Garden of Eden.
2. We allow our feelings to dictate our view of God
Our feelings can throw us! Feelings can appear to be reality; and if we allow ourselves to live our lives by our feelings we find our lives to be nothing short of an emotional roller coaster ride. I wonder how many days I have wasted in my life living by my feelings? I cringe to think of this; because it is something I have struggled with a lot! My feelings can tell me that God does not care for me. Have you been there? Something ‘bad’ happens in your day and you immediately feel like God is judging you and mad at you? I can feel like God is mad at me; and if I allow my feelings to become my compass – I am headed to being lost in an emotional wilderness of trouble.
3. We focus on us and our failures and not Christ
The old adage, “A person wrapped up in themselves makes for a very small package” is very true. There are times when my thoughts have been revolving around me and all that I have done wrong. I have gone to bed before feeling like a complete failure. (The kids got on my nerves, I lost my temper, was mad at the dog and Rob said something that hurt my feelings and I snapped at him…and as I lay there and meditate on everything I have done wrong I feel like a complete failure). Have you ever gone to bed, looked back at your day and thought, “I hope I don’t wake up in the morning –if I’m just going to mess up tomorrow as much as I messed up today”? When we are stuck looking at all we have done wrong, all our shortcomings and not focused on Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit we become defeated. The feeling of defeat is NEVER from God. The Christian life is a life of hope.
4. When we think God is like us
I have five kids. One of my five has a lot of special needs issues. The questions he asks on any given day have to range in the hundreds. That is how he communicates with people – by quizzing them and asking questions. (Many of which he asked yesterday and the day before that and the day before that….. you get the picture.) I wake up in the morning to Zak standing over our bed asking another question. I get so tired of all of the questions. I turn my back and roll my eyes, I ask him to go to his room and line up his cars – or go outside and rake the driveway again (a blog post for another day) – all just to be free from having to answer his all of his questions for a few minutes. Sometimes, I just need a break from Zak – I love him with all of my heart; but somedays….
It’s easy for me to have a faulty view of God and to think that God is like me – that He gets tired of me and just wants a break from me. (I know me – and I could understand if He just needed a time out from all my issues!) When I start to think that God’s patience level with me is the same as mine in situations that come into my life– I pull away from Him. How thankful I am that God is SO MUCH MORE patient with me than I have ever been with others. God never needs a time out from us!
5. When we forget where we live
It is always after a major news story that you hear the questions, “How can a loving God have allowed that to happen?” When a natural disaster comes and lives are lost this question is heard over and over. When a child dies or when an entire family is killed but the drunk driver walks away from the crash - the question comes. I have wrestled with this one. I cannot forget that I live in a sin cursed world – I’m not home yet. In Heaven there will be justice and things will make sense, all wrongs will be made right; but here on earth – sin still reigns and we live with the effects of sin. Because this isn’t Heaven we experience the pain of death and separation from those we love.
Imagine how wonderful it will be when we never have to go to another funeral again? We just attended the funeral of a family member. As we stood by the graveside, I told the Lord that if I never stood by one more grave, listened to one more eulogy or viewed one more casket about to be lowered into the ground – that would be fine with me. That day is coming; but we are not there yet. We still live in a fallen world – we still hurt and cry and wonder why things happen that do not make sense. We can’t forget where we live – and we must remember where we are going!
If these are the natural responses to the trouble that comes into our lives; if our human nature defaults to questioning a loving God and brings us to defeat – how do we change this pattern? God does not want us to live in defeat. When you and I do not know with all assurance that God is FOR us we will be defeated. There is a simple two-fold solution to getting us from the defeated life of questioning God’s goodness and love for us to being assured that God is for us – and NO ONE can be against us (not even ourselves).
First of all we must know our God. Not just know Him as the Savior of our sins – but KNOW Him by His character. This is something I struggled with so much in college. I always felt like God was mad at me – like I had failed Him once again. (There are times even now – when I slip back into this mindset – urrr!) One of my professors challenged me to start a “God Is” journal. In that journal I went through the book of Psalms and wrote down any verse that said something about who God is. (My professor had gotten the idea from a book called “What do I know about my God?” by Mardi Collier. I plan on doing a book review on this book here in the near future on the blog.) After I went through and located all the references to who God is, I was challenged to then journal how I had experienced each of the listed attributes of God in my own life.
So, when I got to this verse in Psalms 56:9 – “God is FOR me…” I took time to meditate on how God had been for me in my own life. I then wrote in my journal different ways that I had seen that God had been for me. Ladies, this transformed my life! This completely changed my view of God.
Secondly, we must accept what the Bible says as truth. I can write down that God is for me – and I can even record ways that God has been for me in my life; but I must accept by faith that God is for me. That means if my feelings tell me that God is mad at me I must check to see if my feelings line up with the Bible. I must bring my thoughts and feelings under the truth of the Bible.
We must THINK TRUTH.
I can look at ways I have failed and think that God is tired of me and wants a ‘time out ‘ from me – but this is NOT the God of the Bible – it is a god of my own making. I have a choice at that moment when the feelings come to choose to worship the God of the Bible – (the God that is FOR me) or to worship the god of my own making. We must bring our feelings under the control of the Holy Spirit and accept by faith what God’s Word says is true about God.
God is FOR me. This is a truth that I can rest on and accept by faith no matter what is happening in my life right now! Here is the awesome part: “If God is for me… who can be against me?”
Thanks so much for stopping by, I’m so glad you did. I trust you have a wonderful week.