Late one night this week I suddenly had it impressed on my mind to write a brief blog article addressing the question: Does God really love me? This same week I heard a short radio recording speaking to this issue and then the founder and current president of ServeNow spoke to this issue at our board meeting for our devotion time!
I am sure that from time to time everyone, including those of you reading this, no matter how strong your faith may be, have wondered or questioned at certain times, whether God really does love you. In fact, I would actually question the reality and depth of your faith if you never have or do from time to time experience doubts. As I like to remind people, doubts and unbelief are two different things. Doubts, if handled rightly actually drive you closer to God and deepen the genuineness of your faith; unbelief is a choice to harden our hearts against God. Doubts are part of the “fiery darts” Satan uses to try to keep people from faith or discourage people of faith. Unbelief is a human choice to give into doubts.
But I remember one elderly man in the church I pastored told me that while he believes God loves people in general and collectively…he has a hard time believing that God loves individuals personally and specifically. He couldn’t accept or receive the fact that God loved him (or others) as an individual. Was he right?
I often seem to be most assailed with doubts in the night. I also remember distinctly on my last trip to India, as we were driving by an endless sea of people and seeing endless overwhelming need, doubts and despair tried to overtake me. It is mind-boggling to think that God loves specifically and individually each person. And if he knows every person and their needs, why are so many suffering and struggling so much? The sheer number of people made me feel lost and insignificant. And the great need made me feel so overwhelmed with despair as I realized what we were doing was not even a drop in the bucket or scratching the surface. While we provided medical care for some and blankets to others, I couldn’t help but think of all the others not being treated, not being given blankets and not being told that God loves them. Did God love only the one’s we served and spoke to? Were they somehow more worthy?
This is the part of the article where it becomes harder to know what to write. I could very, very easily give a “biblical” and “theological” answer, such as we live in a fallen world where sin and suffering are a result and consequence. I could also quote a million wonderful verses about God’s love for us (John 3:16, 1 John 4:7-21, Psalm 139, Romans 8:28-39, Matthew 6:25-34). All of those do have their place to remind ourselves of. It would be good in fact to take the time to meditate on those verses. It is vital that we not go by our feelings but by faith in God’s word. It is absolutely important we put on the “armor of God” and take up the “shield of faith” to “extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:10-18). But I sort of want to go a different direction for this article.
First of all, I find that besides simply taking God at his word; I have to remind myself of ways God’s love has been seen and demonstrated as a reality in my own life specifically. Think back on times when God has provided in some specific way or spoken to you in some personal way. Sometimes we fail to recognize these moments, because while it comes directly from God, (as does everything that is good: James 1:16-18) it may come through “ordinary” means such as another person, or song on the radio, or message you hear, or article you read. Yet, we have to see behind the “vehicle” to the one orchestrating it in His Sovereign and specific love. Haven’t you ever read or heard something and said “wow that was like it was speaking right to me?” Haven’t you ever had times when someone has said just the right word to you at just the right time? Haven’t you ever had your back up against the wall in some way but then something unexpected happened that resolved that in a way you weren’t expecting? These are “God moments.” These moments remind us God does take an interest in our lives and knows the very details of our lives.
Secondly, I have to separate between circumstances and failures of others (or myself) verse God’s perfect love. Circumstances that we find ourselves in are often the result of living in a fallen-sin cursed world or with a fallen-sinful nature of our own. This world is not perfect, because we are not perfect. People (including ourselves) will always let us down, fail us, forget us, forsake us, hurt us, disappoint us, even discourage us. This can lead us to feeling like God has let us down or doesn’t love us. And so it becomes a battle to put our trust in God when man disappoints us. Yet it’s in Him we must put our trust, not people.
I don’t blame God for the need and suffering I see. I am in fact amazed by the fact that He suffered with us…and suffers us. I think that in itself speaks more than any argument. I think the real question is our love…or lack thereof. I am constantly amazed for example, by how pictures of animals will get more response on Facebook, then posts of human suffering and those in need. Frivolous posts get all kind’s of comments; but substantial posts are ignored. Our priorities are completely misplaced and our culture has become so shallow. It is us this is the problem, not God.
Do you doubt God’s love for you? If so, perhaps the very timing of this article and you reading it is one way God wants to provide assurance to you that He does. I don’t think there is anything profound in this article. But sometimes it’s the simple things; the small things; the most basic reminders at the right time, that can mean the most. So be assured God is love (1 John 4:15-16), which means by nature He loves you. Jesus did not just speak to crowds, or heal multitudes of people. He ministered to individuals and touched people one by one. In fact in Mark 4-5, Jesus left a crowd that He had been teaching and put his own disciples through a life-threatening storm, just to deliver one demon-possessed man on the other side!
Jesus also taught us that when we pray we are to relate to God as “Our Father”…a Father who knows and cares about every need in our lives (Matthew 6:8). He is after all, the One who envisioned and then fashioned and formed you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16). He knows you. He loves you. He takes a specific and special interest in every detail of your life.
I encourage you: let your doubts drive you to Him and His Word. And as you look out at a world in need, upon people suffering and struggling, let it not cripple you to do nothing, but let it compel you to demonstrate God’s love and compassion in action towards those in need. Let God use you as an instrument through which his love is seen. God is not interested in what we can’t do or don’t have to give. He is rather asking us what we do have and will give (Mark 6:38) and calling us to do something with that. Perhaps it is through you; your words, your deeds, your gift, your talents, your skills, your time, your touch, that God wants to assure someone else who is doubting His love, that He really does love them. God doesn’t just say he loves us…God has shown us He loves us. It is easy to say we love with our lips, but God calls us to show love, His love, with our actions.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us…we love because He first loved us.” (John 4:9-12; 19).
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him. Dear children, let us not love with words and tongue but with actions and in truth.” (John 3:16-20).