I’ve heard it said that our earthly father shapes our view of God. This couldn’t be more true, at least from what I’ve observed. We seem to base our expectations of who God is and what he will do for us based on who our father was and what he did for us.
If your father let you down, you are probably expecting God to let you down.
If your father was generous, full of laughter, and always kept his word, then it won’t be as difficult for you to believe that our Father God is all of these things.
But if your father was strict, hard on you when you made mistakes, and offered discipline that was not loving correction but was based on fear and control, you probably think that God is the same way.
I don’t blame you for having a tainted view of God, and I’m not judging you for it. But I have to say something because as I watch you live with this view of God as someone you serve because, “It’s the right thing”, or because, “I’m a wretched sinner and I owe him for the grace he’s offered me”, or even because, “He stands by me as I drag myself through this miserable life,” I am brokenhearted for you.
This God that you believe in — he isn’t the real God. You don’t have to live with depression and fear. You don’t have to live with unhealed wounds and unfulfilled longings. You’re not tough because you keep serving God even though there is no joy or life in the worship you offer. God isn’t interested in how “strong” you are, or in how you keep serving him even though this life is so “awful and miserable.”
Life does have trials, and I don’t say these things to discount the difficulty you have experienced. But there’s something more to living for God, and if we continue to focus on simply enduring our trials, we’re missing it. The phrase, “a sacrifice of joy” keeps coming to mind as I write this. A quick search revealed this verse:
“Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.”
Psalm 107:22 (NIV)
Joy and thanksgiving are something that God requires of us. It’s not enough to say the words or go through the motions — God wants us to truly feel the joy and thanksgiving in our spirits. In fact, he commands it of us. How can we continue to feel so gloomy and miserable in the presence of a God whose “stern command” is that we are joyful? Don’t you realize, God’s desire was that you would never feel pain, hurt, fear, or abandonment. Don’t you understand, these things were NEVER meant to cross your path. Haven’t you heard that even though we turned our backs on God, he pursued us and with GREAT compassion and mercy, he drew us back to him and dried all our tears?
Your Father’s desire is for you to experience his undying love. He longs to give you a joy so powerful that you can still feel it in the midst of your trials. Let’s stop talking about following God as though it’s just something that helps us get by. Let’s allow him to fill us with his spirit and carry us in his strong arms. Let’s change the way we talk about God, so the words we speak about him are filled with hope, and not sorrow.
There are broken people in this world, and they are searching for a reason to be hopeful! They aren’t hard to come by — they are all around you. They are your brother, your sister, your co-worker, your best friend. As Christians, we are doing the world a disservice when we walk around without hope.
My God is not dead, he’s not mediocre, he’s not someone who helps me scrape by. My God has reawakened my dreams, given me a passionate love that is worth everything I own, and given me an all-encompassing HOPE that has changed the way I live. I don’t need to mourn about these passing trials when I know that someday, when he completes his work, I won’t even REMEMBER the trials I endured. I pray that hope is something that is so strong in my life that it changes the people around me.