18 February 2013

the lesson still most difficult

Psyche Entering Cupid's Garden by JWW
Last post in a series (find the rest here: introduction, I, II, III, IV, V).
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
-Micah 7:18-20
Is the Lord there? And if He is . . . does he love me?

I suppose these are some of the deepest questions a human can ask. Although a redeemed child of God might be expected to answer them with confidence, doubt still gnaws at our hearts in the midst of pain. Is He? Does He? Really?

A Scriptural answer is found in Hebrews 11:6: "Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."

Yes. He exists, and He loves-- loves enough to pay close attention to what His children are doing, to answer those who seek him, and to faithfully bestow rewards as He has promised. Even more, as that passage from Micah proclaims, He delights in loving us.

God delights to love me. What a marvelous truth! It's wonderful. It's life-giving. Yet it has been the hardest thing for me to internalize during this particular trial, because to believe it now, I need to look past what I feel. (If He loved me, wouldn't He pay attention to my suffering? How in the world does this display His affection? Why do I feel so alone?)

This is where I just don't have a logical bridge between feeling and truth. Faith is the only bridge, the only way to get me from anger and pain to resting in God's care. And He graciously gives that faith, a bit at a time . . .

I loved this post by Lore Ferguson: "When He Feels Far Off." An excerpt:
He is near because his Word says he is near. Because he is Immanuel, God with us. Because he came to earth as a baby wrapped in rags and humility. He is near because he was a suffering servant, drinking a cup that wasn't taken from him, even when he asked. He is near because he walked through the valley, in the shadow of his own death. He is near because he is God, encompassing, creating, drawing, loving, shepherding. He is near not because we feel his nearness, but because he says he is near.

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