I was at church on Saturday, and our (new) pastor said something that struck a chord with me. I’ve heard others say it before, but for some reason, the words hit me afresh for some reason. Here is what he said:
God is for you.
Now the context here is that this is a promise that the Lord makes to those who follow after Him. However, even if you find yourself outside of the household of faith, understand that God still cares about you a great deal, and is sovereignly – often subtly, but not always – orchestrating the events of your life so that you come to realize that your life isn’t quite complete without Him.
However, that is a post for another day.
Anyway, back to church this weekend, and our pastor’s words. I think that sometimes, we can get so bogged down in the Christian life, we can feel that if we do not “perform” up to a certain level of expectation, God is somehow upset with us for some reason, and regards us with less favor.
But if that were the case, why would Jesus have died on the cross and have been resurrected three days later? if our works were enough – if the Lord is happier with us on the days that we perform well, and rather miffed with us on the days when we don’t – then shouldn’t the Pharisees and Sadducees have been among Jesus’s most favored followers? Yet, as we so often read in the Gospels, Jesus had the strongest words of rebuke for these individuals. Interesting, no?
And while our external behaviors should be characterized by God-given wisdom and love (you can see my post on the topic from yesterday, if you like), the Bible seems to be clear that – ultimately – what matters most to the Lord is what is happening in our hearts. Do we really believe that He is who He says He is? Do we believe that He’ll do what He says He’ll do? Or do we approach the Lord a certain wariness of heart and mind?
If I’m honest, I often give God the spiritual side-eye more regularly than I’d like to admit – usually, because I’m too focused on my immediate circumstances. And because I’m not able to see a way out, I assume that there isn’t one. Thankfully, God is patient with me, and is working with me and changing my heart in this area, one day at a time. With the Lord, there is always a way out! He in the only one who can blow a hole in the walls that we are facing, and create a door (and then open it just for us) in ways that we could never before thought possible.
Put another way, have we forgotten that God is for us? Now hear me clearly – the Lord is not Someone who exists to do our bidding (a genie He is not, I assure you), but we must believe that – in the eternal economy of God – He is working things out for our ultimate good, if we’ve placed our faith in Him.
And for those of us who believe – who have decided to take Him at His word – the Lord makes several promises that are quite stunning, when you stop to think about them. Consider what this passage from Isaiah 30 says – I’ve briefly summarized the main ideas below:
- God longs to be gracious to us;
- He waits on high to have compassion on us;
- He is just; and
- We are blessed when we long for Him (as He longs for us).
The word “long” is pretty strong, no? Indeed, there is no emotional half-steppin’ with God – He’s all in. Loves is 100%. No, let me take that back – 150%. No, even more than that – some mind-blowing, astronomically large amount that defies all human understanding. That’s how much He loves us. Loves me. Loves you. And He cares, too. Really, really cares – more than any other person ever could.
So, for these and several other reasons, I’ve chosen Isaiah 30:18 as my verse of the week. If you’re feeling down, lonely, and/or a little hopeless – or even if life is great for you now – be encouraged that there is One who loves you desperately, completely, and only wants what is best for your life. This does not mean that everything in life will go well (there is still sin in the world, after all), but it does mean that there is One who sovereignly superintends over eternity past, present, and future, and that He’s got a plan in place that is unfolding precisely as it should (especially when it appears like the very opposite is happening!).
Then take a moment to rest in this truth and find peace, dear friends.
May the good Lord bless and prosper all that you do in His name this week and always. 💛