What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 ESV)
One of the greatest lies the enemy has ever told me is that God doesn’t love me. Because of this lie and my struggle with it, I have often had a very warped view of the circumstances, struggles, and trials in my life. Because of the lie that God doesn’t love me, I have sometimes struggled to turn to God in times of pain and despair. Maybe some of you can relate.
A. W. Tozer said this: “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Let’s try a little exercise: stop and focus for a moment, think about God. What is the first thing that comes to your mind? It’s harder for me because I’ve heard Tozer’s quote, but it is still revealing. When you think about God, do you think about His incredible, selfless, perfect love for you? Or have you bought the lie (or some form of it) that God doesn’t love you?
Why am I including this in a devotion about returning back to God? Although I don’t know the science behind it, I have experienced this in my own life, when we don’t feel loved, wanted, or like we can approach God, often we won’t. It isn’t that we don’t want to come to God, it is fear. This fear and the very real realization of our own sin and shame can keep us from returning to God. This fear causes us to run and hide, even when God is seeking us out (see Genesis 3:8-10).
I’ve often taught that the Bible is God’s love letter to mankind. In this love letter we see a God of compassion, grace, mercy, patience, and kindness seeking out His beloved creation, mankind. Pastor Craig Groeschel said it this way: “God didn’t just shout His love from heaven, He has showed His love on earth.” Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we see our Creator tenderly and gently calling out to fallen man. He knows our sin and shame, yet He gave everything perfect and beautiful so we could be forgiven and free (see John 3:16). What’s the point? It’s time to come out of hiding. The Father is calling dear child, it’s time to come home.
In today’s focal verse Paul shares a profound thought: if God is for us, who can be against us? What Paul says next should make each of us pause and worship: He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32 ESV) God not only loves you, but He really loves you. Not only did He give Jesus to die in the place we rightly deserved, but He also gives us amazing grace and sweet mercy that we could never deserve or earn.
Grace, God’s riches at Christ’s expense, are the unmerited, unearned, undeserved favor and blessings of God. Grace is God giving us eternal life, forgiveness of sin, redemption, renewal, and relationship when we deserved death, condemnation, and hell. Mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve (separation, death, suffering). The grace and mercy of God flow from the cross of Jesus and His finished work on it.
Today my prayer for you and I is that we would start to believe God when He says, “I love you this much.” If we could just grasp it for a minute, we would crawl out of whatever hiding place we’ve buried ourselves in and run with all our strength back to His loving arms. We would humble ourselves under the perfect love of a Good Father. We would pray earnestly, honestly, and continually. We would seek God with all our heart and mind. We would cry out for and experience incredible forgiveness and love.
I once heard a story that went like this: there was a man who fell in a deep, dark hole. The man tried with all his might to climb out of the hole. He fought harder and harder but no matter how hard he fought; he always fell back to the bottom of the hole. Finally, after trying with all his might and failing to escape the hole, the man sat down in desperation and defeat.
The man heard someone far above the hole and began to shout, “please, help me!” At the top of the hole a face appeared with piercing eyes looking down at the man. The man quickly recognized a deacon from his church. “Please, help me out of this hole!” the man cried. The deacon looked down at the man and after quizzing him on how he found himself in the hole, promised to put him in the prayer list at church and continued on his way. The man was still in the hole, and he sat back down in defeat.
A little while later, the man heard activity again at the top of the hole. Tired and desperate, he called out: “can you please help me? I’m stuck.” Above the hole, the eyes of the man’s pastor looked down. After giving the man in the hole a pep talk, sharing some Scripture, and praying for him, the pastor continued on his way. The man was still stuck, desperate, depressed, defeated, and all alone.
Still more time passed when the man once again heard activity at the top of the hole. Almost too weak to even cry out, the man whispered: “please, help.” A worn, scarred face appeared over the top of the hole. Before the man knew it, the person jumped down into the hole with him. The man stood up, startled and scared. “What are you doing? Now we are both stuck!” the man cried out. The person gently took his hand and said, “it’s OK, I’ve been here before and I know the way out.”
OK, I’ve modified the story a bit to fit our vernacular, but the point is this, I’ve been there before, and I know the way out. A lack of obedience and devotion stems from the lie that God doesn’t love you. If the enemy can continue to convince you that you are a failure, that you should be ashamed, and that God could never love a sinner like you, you’ll continue hiding and running from God. Today I’m praying that for the first time in a very long time you’ll hear the loving call of God and come out of hiding. God loves you. God is for you. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39).
Father, forgive me for buying the lie that You don’t or couldn’t love me. God, I confess that I don’t understand why You love me, but I am thankful You do. Today Lord I ask that You’d help me stop hiding from You. Help me know there is no condemnation for me in Christ Jesus. Jesus, thank You that You did everything required so I could be reunited with God. Holy Spirit, I confess there are times I am in a deep, dark hole. Please enter into my struggle and speak truth into my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.