I read a quote the other day that said, "You will trust God only as much as you love Him."
This is an interesting one to ponder. You will trust God only as much as you love Him.... It would probably be pretty safe to say it works the other way around, too. You will love Him only as much as you trust Him. Love and trust go hand-in-hand. You love someone at least partly dependent on how much you can trust them. If there is complete trust, then there can be complete love.
The Lord is wholly trustworthy, therefore He ought to be loved with abandon. But do we trust Him fully? Whether or not we do will reveal just how deep our love for Him goes. This is such a challenge. Because really, how much do we love Him? We may say we love Him greatly, but then comes the litmus test - how much do we trust Him?
Love and trust go hand-in-hand. Both are formed from a steady, constant, ever-growing relationship. So where is our relationship? How much we love and trust the LORD can be a good litmus test for where our relationship stands. When trust wavers and doubt threatens, it is our relationship with the Lord that needs to be returned to - not a happier day or life with fewer problems.
"Bad days" will happen, trials will impede, and gloom will cover our bright happy sunshine but if we fully trust the LORD and our love for Him is rooted firmly in His grace and goodness and will, our faith will be built, joy grown, and relationship deepened.
How much do we love Him? How much do we trust Him?
How do you react when life doesn't go the way you expected? What do you do when it changes? Or doesn't change? Do you run away or toward the problem, situation, or circumstance facing you? More importantly, do you run to God with it? I've often heard it said that it's not so much the problem or circumstance, but what you do with it, that matters. I believe wholeheartedly that that little statement, that little bit of commentary on life, is true. The circumstance itself is a catalyst. Sometimes it can be a catalyst into fear, sometimes into the waters of doubt. But regardless, it should always catapult us into the arms of our loving Savior.
The Lord does not expect us to be numb or devoid of emotion. He expects us to be rightly angry when unjustly wronged. He expects us to weep tears of sorrow when faced with pain, tragedy, and loss. He expects us to, at times, feel doubt and worry and failure. But as our loving Father, He also expects us to approach Him with it, seek Him through it, and trust Him to work in it. He is our Father. His love, tenderness, mercy, and compassion are completely unfathomable.
He had compassion upon the multitudes when they were with Him and fed them. He had mercy on the woman caught in adultery and said, "Go and sin no more." His disciples rebuked the parents of little children and Jesus tenderly said, "Let them come unto me." And when asked how much He loved the world, He stretched out His arms upon the cross and said, "This much." So great is His love, tenderness, mercy, and compassion! So great we cannot begin to comprehend it all.
So when, through trials and life's stormy blasts, you want to run away from it all, by all means run! Run into the arms of the one who loves you far deeper than you could possibly know. Run to Him whose mercy exceeds our greatest hopes. Run to the one who tenderly holds His children and compassionately feels all of your pain. Run to the Savior, run to your Father, run to the one who cares about you and whatever situation you face so much that He died to redeem it out of the ashes and dust.
You are loved, you are precious, you are beloved, and you are redeemed. Never will you be left to struggle on your own. He is there in the midst of trials and pain and fiery torture. Run to Him because He loves you and because He cares.
I have a little journal which I use to essentially "preach at myself." Each page has a quote or scripture verse which serves to provoke thought. Yesterday's verse was Nehemiah 8:10, "The joy of the LORD is your strength" and, like all scripture, it got me to thinking.
IS the joy of the LORD my strength? Is my strength rooted in the LORD? Life changes, hopes fall through, temporary pleasures are exactly that and the sum total of what we might put our hope in - other than the LORD - will eventually let us down. But the LORD! The LORD will never leave or forsake. He will never abandon. He will be an unchanging constant to bolster our souls. If hope and joy, desires and enjoyments, are placed ultimately in Him, then joy is steady and constant. If strength is derived from Him, then the outside world could crumble apart but the rock of your strength would still hold firm.
"The joy of the LORD is your strength." Verses like this demand the question be asked - "is it?" Is the joy of the LORD our strength? Or do we depend upon outward circumstances to keep us happy and satisfied, secure and content? Could we find joy and strength just as readily whether the day were a good one or a "bad" one? As faulty human beings, it can be a battle to keep the source of our strength, the source of our joy, constantly in the LORD. The "good" days are easy, sure, but what about the "bad" ones?
As I learn more about how the LORD works in the lives of His children, I have come to the realization that though we all like the good days, we perhaps need the "bad" ones. So often it is through those that we are reminded where the source of our strength and joy really lies.
Life can be tough. Anyone who has lived any amount of time on this blue marble we consider home recognizes this fact. It doesn't matter where you live or where you grew up; at one point or another, life will be difficult. I remember my college biology teacher telling us that he could, without knowing us individually, divide us into two groups: those who had experienced trials and those who eventually would. I remember thinking 'Yikes! That's scary.' What I have since learned is that he was right. I do not remember if he went beyond that statement to give advice, but if I could sidle up to my college freshman self just after that statement was given and tell myself one thing, it would be this: during good times and tough times, as much as you can, preach at yourself.
I am not, of course, suggesting you go out and get yourself a pulpit to stand behind, but I will resolutely state that nothing aides in approaching life and plugging away through difficult times like preaching at yourself and repeating the various Bible truths you know about your Lord and Savior. Like the fact that nothing is too hard for Him - He who created the heavens and earth. He who holds the spinning world in His hands. He who caused the deaf to hear and the blind to see. He who took upon Himself the sin of the whole world! He who died to take the punishment every human being deserves. He who rose from the dead to triumph over sin and death itself. Nothing is too hard for Him! There is no sickness He cannot heal, no sin He cannot forgive. No life He cannot redeem, no situation He cannot work in! There is no mountain too high He cannot help us over it, no valley too low He cannot get us out of it. He is good and He is God and nothing is too hard for Him!
Yes, preach at yourself. Every day. During good times and hard. Because through it, worry will be turned into confidence, fear turned into rejoicing, and doubt will be turned into praise.