I’ve been working with people long enough to know that when I say God is love some people pull back and look at me sideways, “Really? God is love? Well, if that’s true, then how could He have allowed . . .”—and out comes a painful story. Are you like that?
Something happened to you. A wrong was done to you. A selfish person broke your heart or took what wasn’t theirs, and you cannot reconcile the pain they brought with the message that God loves you.
I’m so sorry for your hurt—I really am.
Please hear me now, the way out of that corner of confusion is not to deny or run from God’s heart for you. Instead you must turn and look squarely into the reality of who He really is. Too often we self-define God’s love: “This is my concept of love, and God must conform to this view or I can’t believe He is loving.” Many have made this mistake without realizing it or calculating the fallout from such a belief-banishing choice.
God has never represented His love for you as that pampering, “here Billy, have another cupcake. Take the one with the extra icing,” permissive-mother kind of love. But I do understand why people sometimes struggle to see God as loving.
For example, most people would agree that when you love someone, you protect them, right? God’s love is a protecting love, but it’s not always a preventing love. God doesn’t always keep hard things from happening. Here’s why: He has a higher purpose for our pain. He allows it to humble us so we see how much we need Him.
Sometimes God allows pain to restore us
Some of you were so far from God, off on your own, going who-knows-where. God allowed some hard thing in your life so that the pain of it brought you back to Him. If you would have never turned to Him without that heartache, isn’t it also true that in some sense that it was a loving thing for God to allow? Wasn’t it the hurt that brought you to the wonderful place of asking for His help? Is a father unloving for insisting that his child goes to college? Will the child ever feel love before the graduation and career satisfaction to follow are in place?
A hundred years from today, as awful as that pain was, you’ll thank God for it if you choose to let its purpose be fulfilled in you. God’s love is revealed in the ultimate purpose for which He allows our momentary pain. God does not have to prove He loves us at the end of every hour or every day. He does invite us to trust what He is doing and choose to embrace the truth that time will reveal the reality of His love. Oh, choose to believe He loves you!
Sometimes God allows pain to refine us.
Sometimes He allows pain to refine us so we can be more like Him. I’ve said to Kathy many times, “I hate to think of the person that I would be apart from God in my life.” I shudder to imagine where I would be without God’s refining influence. Without God allowing painful things into my life, what kind of husband and father would I be today? What kind of pastor or friend would I be? What kind of man would I be without the excruciating hurts that have driven me to my knees before the God who loves to refine me?
Looking back, it’s His love and mercy I see even when His protection does not always prevent pain in my life.
Yes, God loves you with a perfecting love. You are under construction, my friend. God is working on you. There will be difficult times, but you can trust Him. No pain is allowed into your life but that He chooses to use it for your good. Your loving, protecting Father measures out the trial and carefully watches over you every moment. His eyes are upon you. You are never far from His thoughts. He counts the hairs on your head. He saves your tears in a bottle. He loves you with an everlasting love. But let His love be what it really is—a perfecting love.
I choose God’s love.