25. Resolved, to examine carefully and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
- Jonathan Edwards -
Yesterday, in the evening service at church, we watched this short video...
It's a guy called Steve Saint who has done some serious suffering. His Father was brutally murdered when he was 5, his daughter died of a brain tumour when she was just 21, and now he's suffered a serious accident himself which seems to have left him almost completely paralysed. One of the most astounding things about this man is his faith in God. If anyone has a reason to doubt God's love for him, then surely he? I find myself asking "How can God say he loves this man, and yet allow him to suffer such awful tragedy and heartache" and yet what is completely astounding is that this man has said "I don't ask why; I trust him".
Doubt hits all of us at some point - is God really in control? Does he really love me? Does he really have power to deal with this huge issue? And suffering throws those questions into the limelight perhaps more than anything else...
Edwards challenges us to think carefully about the one (yes one - perhaps more like 100,000??) thing that most causes me to doubt God's love for me - is it suffering? is it situations and circumstances? is it the seeming mundaneness of daily life? is it my own insecurities? The list could go on... but I think he makes a good point here. So often we are overwhelmed by our inadequacies that we don't even know where to start. Edwards challenge is this... find the BIG thing that makes you doubt, and attack it with all your strength.
I know, for me, the big thing is my work-ethic. I believe in earning my way in the world... that flows into my relationship with God (even though it shouldn't) and means I feel great and secure in God's love for me when I'm reading my Bible daily, praying regularly, having lots of opportunities to share Christ with my friends and family... but take this past week for example. I haven't looked into my Bible once, I've thrown up arrow prayers throughout the day, normally consisting of "Lord - please help me to...(find my keys/settle Ava/fill in gap as appropriate!)" and I didn't even make it to Bible study. On these kind of days, I find it very easy to doubt God's love for me...why should he love a useless Christian like me, who can't even prioritise time with Him? Who talks all the talk and yet day to day, this week at least, has not shown in any way that God is even part of my life? That's when the devil hits with his "pharisee-fork"... and that's when I have to use "all my forces" to preach this to myself...
God doesn't love me for what I have or haven't done... he never has. That's never been the basis for his love for me! He loves me because he loves his Son, and his Son has taken up my pathetic attempts and failures at following him, and presented me, before his Father "pure and spotless"... not because I am, but because he's covered me with himself through his death and made me God's child. That's how I "direct all my forces" against those seeds of doubt!
So what is it for you? What is the ONE big thing that causes you to doubt that there is a God who loves you and wants you for his own?
Grab that ONE, and direct all your forces against it today!