Sunday, February 5, 2017

What to Do When You Doubt God's Love

I recall thinking as a child that the love of my parents could be illustrated like Morse Code. The dashes were when they loved me, but the dots meant they didn't. I remember saying something to my daddy about this. His sweet brow furrowed as he tried to get into my young head and untangle my mangled ideas about his love. When he spanked me, I thought his love was taking a break. When he gave me candy, his love was back again. 

This is a childish perspective on love, but if we aren't careful, our view of God's love can be just as immature. If He is doing everything we ask, we are sure He loves us. Let Him remain silent too long about a request, and the questions start. A tragedy can pull our faith in Him up by the roots. For some, faith never grows in that spot again.

  Let's be honest, it takes an effort to think maturely when times are hard. Our emotions default to doubt and accusations when we are in pain. The enemy is at the ready to accuse God in the face of heartache, and our sinful emotions are quick to agree. Maturity reins it in more quickly, but the temptation, I believe, always arrives first. 

How do you keep your head in times when you feel God's love is a dot rather than a dash? You must become a frequent guest at all your favorite watering holes. Don't let your anger cause you to pout and stay away. Limp if you have to, but get yourself to where you find encouragement. In this culture, there is no excuse for drying up. Where do you go when you need a spike in encouragement? Do you call a friend? Listen to a favorite preacher online? Dig up some old sermon notes? Maybe you let a favorite Bible character whisper in your ear or reheat a Bible verse that's gone cold. 

I also think there is something to be said for being a regular customer at those places so that when troubles come, it's not such a stretch to get it together. Sometimes discouragement and defaulting to doubt are an easier visit if you've been hanging out close to their neighborhoods anyway. God's love hooks are wedged deeper in the hearts of those who hang out with Him than those making a visit like an in-law's uncle's cousin twice removed every other Christmas. It takes less to re-convince you of His love even while your heart is stinging from tragedy, My Friend, if you stay close. That's part of how faith matures, by doing the day to day love thing with the Lord. You already know that getting through the tough times strengthens you too. Each get-through builds a more convincing case for the love that will not let you go and makes you into one who won't let go of  Him either. 

 What can you do to keep your dot and dash looking more like a steady line? Attend church more regularly? Hang with people who are working on doing the same? Pull away from those who squelch your faith? Listen to music that pickles and preserves a strong faith? Pray more? 

Be encouraged, Dear Reader. God's love endures forever (Psalm 136). He has loved you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). Nothing can separate you from His love (Romans 8:38).  Believe it when you feel it and even more when you don't.