Not just wishful thinking

14 Sep

For the past 5 or 6 months, I’ve been going through this period of questioning. Not questioning that God exists or that the Gospel is true. I still believe that He does and that it is. My questions have been more about how the truth of the Gospel affects me in my everyday life. This post in March and  this one in June explains some of what I’ve been struggling through, specifically what I wrote in my March post:

“Why does it matter that God cares for me? That I’m released from the bondage of sin? If I’m having a hard day at work and pray to God for strength, how does my prayer really matter? How does it change my circumstances? If I say that I’m relying on God and drawing down strength from Him, does He really do anything for me? Or are those words just a human attempt to make life a little easier, to make hard times a little better, to deceive ourselves that ‘everything is going to work out for our good’ when the dice could really fall either way?”

In my other posts, I came up with 2 reasons (out of many, I’m sure) why the Christian life does work and why it does make sense in some weird doesn’t-make-sense kind of way. One was that after we are reborn as children of God, we have the Holy Spirit inside us, who gives us the ability to do, believe, and say things we wouldn’t have done on our own. The other was that it isn’t about me getting random strength from God to go through tough circumstances, as if just the existence of God is enough to alleviate anxiety. Rather, my confidence and trust in God is based on real circumstances and real promises.

I was praying about this the other day, still struggling through it. Because even though I get these flashes of understanding, they go away after a while and I’m left still wondering how the Christian life works. For some reason, I can’t get past the question of why it all matters. “Jesus died for me and I’m going to heaven; what difference does that make right now?”

It’s funny how I know the answer to that question. I can read about it because it’s all over the New Testament. But my heart says “So what? Why does that really matter for this moment?” As in, why should knowing that God loves me make me feel better? He’s up in heaven and He’s the God of the universe. How sure am I that He really cares about every detail of my life? If everyone on earth hated me, why would it make me feel better that God loves me?

Again, the answer is obvious but my heart-response is missing. I don’t believe questioning is a bad thing and I don’t believe that my salvation is in any way jeopardized by these thoughts–after all, I do still believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. But it’s a weird thing to be unsure about things you took completely for granted before.

Anyway, the real reason why I am blogging about this (again!) is that the other day, I read this in The Purpose-Driven Life: “Our hope in difficult times is not based on positive thinking, wishful thinking, or natural optimism. It is a certainty based on the truths that God is in complete control of our universe and that he loves us.”

That really spoke to me because it is what I have been leaning toward these many months but not been quite able to believe. When you think about it, if the Bible is true, then it is indisputable that God is in control of everything and that He loves us–enough that His own Son would not only die for us, but absorb the complete wrath for our sins as well. It’s an amazing thought. Another amazing thing is that the God of the universe communicates with us. He wants to have a relationship with us. He is present in our world, in ways that we are so ignorant of.

While writing this, I kept thinking of Hebrews 11:6–“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Faith involves 2 things: 1) believing that God exists and 2) that He rewards those who seek Him. God is perfect and holy so if He wants us to believe that He rewards those who seek Him, it must be true.

And the best part about that verse–we can draw near to God.

According to this verse, God draws near to us too: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8a)

This is another verse that I love:

Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.
(Psalm 65:4)

It continues to astound me that God chose me to know Him, to receive joy in this life and eternal salvation in the next. Our God is an awesome God.

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