Sunday, September 9, 2018

How do we know God loves us?

There are times in life where we wonder, where we doubt, where we really can’t see how the love of God -- or God himself -- can be true. How do I know God loves me?

I’ve read various answers to this question in books, sermons, and so on. What I’ve seen as the answer runs along the lines of the list below. But is that enough?
  • He tells you in the Bible. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Great song, and great truth. There are myriads of verses where God tells us he loves us, and will forever.
  • He sent his son to die for you. What greater love could there be, than to take his son, who loved, who never sinned, and give him to us, to carry our sins and be punished for them as if they were his sins?
It's the Spirit of God that bears witness or validates to our spirit not only that we are His children, but also that He loves us. (Romans 8:10) It's God's Spirit that empowers us, teaches us, guides us, gives us discernment as to how to walk and enables us to commune and fellowship with Him.
We are also cautioned not to trust our emotions, but, even when we don’t feel God’s love, to cling to the Scriptures and knowledge that God does love you. Trust. Billy Graham said:
Don’t trust your emotions; they can deceive you. Instead, trust Christ and what He has done for you. Invite Him to come into your life today, and then thank Him every morning for His unchanging love for you.
As I read these various answers to the question “How do we know God loves us?” I thought they felt kind of circular. Like: Believe it because God says it.

But what about people who don’t believe in God? Or what if I am in a time of doubt and not sure I believe in God?

I don’t know the full answer to that. What do you think is the answer?

Here’s a thought I came up with. People who don’t believe in God don’t know God loves them. For the doubters, and hopefully also for those sure of their disbelief, it’s temporary. At the time, they don’t know God loves them.

But here’s the thing: He does love them. Whether they know it or not.

It reminded me of a scene in C.S. Lewis’ book (and yes, those who know me are probably thinking, What doesn’t remind Mavis of a scene in a Narnia book?), The Last Battle. At the end of Narnia, the characters go through a door into “The Stable.” It turns out that the Stable is actually a new world, with “blue sky overhead, and grassy country spreading as far as [you] could see.” A group of Dwarfs is in that new world and...
They had a very odd look. They weren’t strolling about or enjoying themselves… They were very close together in a little circle facing one another.
They couldn’t see the others in the Stable or the beauty around them. They described it as “this pitch-black, poky, smelly little hole of a stable.” When Lucy tried to give them some flowers, they yelled at her for “shoving a lot of filthy stable-litter in [their] face.” When Aslan gave them a “glorious feast,” they thought they were eating hay, an old turnip, raw cabbage, and other animal feed you might find in a stable.

Surrounded by that beautiful world, they could not see it. Surrounded by God’s love, not all see or know it.

So, yes, the answers are circular. Because we do need to believe in God -- and hang on to that belief even when we can’t feel it -- in order to know God loves us. And regardless of whether we know it or not, he does.

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, Collier Books, c. 1980, p. 136

2 comments:

  1. I commented on FB too, but it occurs to me now that grief can make us like these elves. When I am grieving, I turn inwards on myself, and it's hard to see outside of the sadness. That's when the physical act of going for a walk in the woods can really help.

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    1. You're right, grief can make us like these dwarfs (dwarfs, not elves, :)) Good point. And doing something physical like a walk can help you get close to God again, and feel his presence. Some meditation and prayer would help for some, too.

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