How do I know God loves me?

My wife and I are still in the midst of celebrating the birth of our first child. It has been a wonderful first week and a half getting to know him — feeling the warmth of his body, watching his facial expressions, smelling his sweet baby smell (is that the diaper-rash cream or is it the baby?), hearing him breathe and becoming familiar with the sound of his voice.

At times like this you find yourself sitting back and feeling very thankful. Thankful for a wonderful wife, for a beautiful healthy baby boy, for loving and supportive family and friends.

I find that my heart starts to fill with a fresh warmth toward God. He has blessed us with this baby, these people, and these circumstances. For that we are so so grateful.

But as I feel my heart warm to God at this time there is a danger. The danger, I think, is that all these wonderful things (good gifts from God as they are) might so easily become the main foundation for my assurance of God’s love for me, and the main basis of my love for him.

How easy it is to praise God for all the temporal and material things he has given us. It is right to thank him for his many good gifts! And of course we will do that with great joy! But are these things really to be the main source of our praise?

In the book of Job God points to Job as a blameless and upright man.

8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

Satan’s response is telling:

9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

“Have you not blessed Job with material blessings?”, he says. “Have you not protected him from sadness, and loss, and harm? Of course he loves you! Who wouldn’t? But take those things away and we’ll see how faithful he is. We’ll see how much his heart burns for his God then!”

The point here is that Satan knows how fickle our hearts can be. He knows how our hearts sing and how we warm to God when things are going well. And so he asks for permission to put Job through his paces with some genuine, mind-blowing suffering, in order to reveal where Job’s heart really lies.

Ultimately we know that Job, though he struggled immensely, did not turn his back on his God even when appalling suffering came, but we are not all Jobs! So how do we guard against having fickle hearts that turn from God when suffering comes?

I think the answer lies in having a right understanding of the primary way in which God has proven his love for us. This is and always will be the cross of Christ through which he has taken us, the sinners and rebels we are, and cleansed us, redeemed us, counted us as his sons.

This truth is what enabled Horatio Spafford, the writer of hymn It Is Well With My Soul to go on worshipping the Lord with a thankful heart even when, in the space of a year or two, he lost his baby son, most of his worldly wealth, and all four of his daughters.

In the midst of his grief he penned these words:

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

This is the joy that remains in your heart on the best day of your life. This is the joy that remains in your heart on the worst day of your life. This is the gospel. It is always how I know God loves me, and it is always the main source of my love for God.

Let’s not depart from the gospel of Christ for a moment, even when the sun is shining and our hearts our filled with happiness. And may Christ himself be our most precious treasure and our reward, never the happiness, the people, the material things, or the circumstances God chooses, from time to time, to bless us with.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

When darkness seems to hide His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s