“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 (NLT)
The last few months have been one of the hardest seasons I’ve ever experienced. A situation in my personal life went haywire and left me with an aching heart.
There have been days when I didn’t know if I could get through. Days when God’s strength and my faith were the only reasons I got out of bed. Days filled with “whys.” Days when I’ve questioned God about suffering, the unfairness of life at times and unanswered prayers. I’ve carried the weight of a myriad of overwhelming emotions, fear and heartache.
If I’m honest, I can’t say I’ve felt thankful for my circumstances or focused on God’s promise of having a plan and a purpose for everything. I can say I have been upset with God at times, questioning His ways and feeling discouraged, fearful and down.
Yet recently in the midst of an especially trying day, my heart was changed during a time of prayer. I heard myself say something that caught me off guard. It was just one simple statement consisting of five simple words that rolled effortlessly off of my lips:
I still love You, Lord.
Even though my mind was swirling with hurt and negative thoughts, my heart was swirling with love for God, even when I wasn’t really thinking about it. I realized I loved Him unconditionally, even though in that moment I had felt forgotten. I experienced a surge of peace and relief, prompting me to trust God’s ways, and then today’s key verse came to mind.
Romans 5:8 reminds us of this beautiful, holy love which is not based on us meeting certain conditions, adhering to strict rules or proving our worthiness. A love we are blessed with simply because of who He is. It’s not because of who we are, but because of what He’s done for us, not because of anything we do for Him. It’s a love we don’t deserve, but enjoy nonetheless.
When life is good, it’s easy and natural to love the Lord. But when life falls apart unexpectedly, it’s not quite so easy. In fact, it might even feel impossible. Those thoughts and doubts don’t make us a bad person or a failure at being a believer; they merely make us human.
The upside is these thoughts can force us to ask ourselves a really hard question: Despite everything — will I still love Jesus with my whole heart, soul and mind?
Our honest answer to this question serves as an indicator of whether we love the Lord all the time, or just in the good times — when He gives, and when He takes away, when He answers our deepest prayers, or when it seems He isn’t listening at all.
Maybe you can relate to the emotions and feelings I’ve been experiencing. Maybe you are facing a difficult time, an undeserved hurt or a painful loss. Maybe you’ve been wondering if God hears your prayers, or if He has forgotten you. Maybe you’ve doubted if He loves you, and if you could still love Him, in the face of your hardships.
Sweet friend, you are not alone.
Even the most faithful followers of Jesus have times when they find themselves doubting not only His love during difficult times, but maybe even His existence. Times when they wonder if His love is meant for them, or just everyone else. The truth is, those thoughts are from the enemy who wants to cloud our minds, make us bitter and pull us away from God. But Scripture tells us God sent His Son to die for us, even though we were still sinners, because He loves us unconditionally.
This brief encounter with God helped me refocus on how blessed I am to have His love, especially when life isn’t perfect.
God’s love is unconditional, with no strings attached. I’m so thankful for His gentle whisper on that particular day which reminded me how important it is to love Him unconditionally in return.
Dear Lord, forgive me for doubting Your ways or Your love for me. Fill me with peace and joy. Equip me to focus on Your everlasting love, push past my doubts and love You unconditionally despite my circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Jeremiah 31:3b, “… I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (NIV)
Job 1:21b, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (NIV)
1 John 4:9‑10, “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.” (NIV)
If you’re dealing with a stressful or painful situation, consider getting a copy of Tracie Miles’ book Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace in Your Chaotic World.
Visit Tracie’s blog for 5 tips on focusing on loving God even when it’s hard.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What’s one thing causing you to doubt God’s love for you? How might focusing on how much He loves you unconditionally change your heart and attitude?
Repeat these words daily as much as needed: I still love You, Lord.
© 2016 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.