Being back on the blog is pretty fun. I’m in a much different season of life and even the internet is no longer the same. I felt like I was brushing away the imaginary dust on my favorite journal to get back into reading what I wrote in the past and seeing there were still so many empty pages I could fill out.
I grew up in a family of believers. My dad is the 7th generation pastor (that we know of) and my mom’s dad is also a pastor. I was immersed in the church community since I was born. I have heard and known about God and His love since I was little.
When I was a senior in high school I remember I started to really struggle with understanding or knowing what was true, if God loved me, or if I loved Him. I continued to worship Him, read the Bible at school/church/home and memorize scripture and pray to Him. But I didn’t know how to fully trust Him.
I think just like in any relationship there is a difference between liking someone and loving someone. Or not having any “issue” with someone and being an acquaintance in comparison to being close with someone. I believe that I was aware of His presence, but I did not know Him as Love. I did not know Him as friend.
I remember my sophomore year in college I wrote in a journal entry, “God, I trust and love everyone in my life way too easily but I really struggle to trust and love you.” Wow- what a bold statement that was for me. The following day we were in a car accident due to someone texting and driving (we believe they were texting). That accident flipped my life upside down. I was then struggling with an injury, chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety, depression, the list goes on…and in that moment I felt confused and angry. I started to question God more. Who is He? How can I trust Him? How can I love a God who allows me to have pain?
Goodness, even typing those thoughts out always feels interesting. People are so scared of those questions. They’re fearful of being asked such questions or even asking them. But those questions were ones I wrestled with. Instead of allowing the bitterness and anger to grow, I decided to seek answers and truth. I began to read my Bible for what it was and to see who He was. I needed to get to know Him first before I would write Him off as untrustworthy, untrue, or unloveable. My only understanding of Him prior was based on my own life circumstances. If life was going well, God was good. If life was not going well, how could I trust Him? But that view was from a place of viewing life through my own mind and a lack of getting to know Him or His word.
Well obviously the story has changed, I now trust Him and love Him so much. I have found Him to be the only one I was able to trust during a season and found Him to be the Truth. I have since been healing in my relationship with man (trust is something I have battled for a while). Learning to love Him has been difficult, an honor, and healing for my heart.
Learning His love is learning His word and how detailed His story of redemption is. Learning His good creation. I studied from Genesis to Revelation and prayed even as I was learning. I’m still and hope to always be learning. But I am now in a place where I can solidly say, I believe in, I trust, and I love Him. I saw that His heart was gentle and forgiving. He is SO loving. Studying the life of Jesus is humbling. He suffered. He experienced excruciating pain. He was mocked. He was ignored. He grieved. He carried the weight of our sins. He loved. He laughed. He wept. He celebrated. He healed. He restored. He redeemed. He rose again, His Holy Spirit is with us, and He will return.
I had to first recognize that my understanding of His love was placing His sovereignty and love into a box that was conditional. If all was well, He loved me. If something was wrong, His love failed…but that isn’t unconditional love. Unconditional love is despite the circumstances on this earth. His love knows no bounds. His love can pierce the darkness and heal the brokenhearted. His love can and does break generational sin and trauma. His love comforts those who have lost a loved one. His love is there with those who are hurting when evil seeks to kill, steal and destroy. His love is there in creation surrounding us. His love can be found in the places we have yet to visit or find. His love is already there.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
In chapter 20 of The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer, he says, “If nothing in us can win Thy love, nothing in the universe can prevent Thee from loving us. Thy love is uncaused and undeserved. Thou art Thyself the reason for the love wherewith we are loved. Help us to believe the intensity, the eternity of the love that has found us. Then love will cast out fear; and our troubled hearts will be at peace, trusting not in what we are but in what Thou has declared Thyself to be.”
God’s love is not conditional. He loved us even though. He loved us even when. He loves us still. We see this in Romans 5:8, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Remembering the Psalm 139 verses when learning His love is so impactful. He knows us so well, He loves us, protects us, and is with us.
Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
139 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.[b]
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts![c]
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting![d]
Another moment that was so impactful for me in learning God’s love is studying His relationship with Israel. Israel’s past within scriptures is full of God preparing a way, protecting, loving, promising, giving, and seeing that the human side of the relationship (meaning Israel) hasn’t always followed through or obeyed God. They have broken their end of the deal, they have forgotten God over and over, and they have disrespected and sinned. And yet God continues to forgive, love, correct, comfort, redeem, move forward, put in place, and protect Israel. What the Lord says to Israel in Isaiah 43:4 is so beautiful, “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.”
I think about the story of Lazarus and his family often when it comes to suffering. How Lazarus’ family must’ve felt waiting for Jesus’ arrival. They must’ve thought He was so late. Or that if He had only been there sooner none of the grief would’ve occurred. But what a blessing that moment was for us to witness and read about. Thank God, Jesus showed up “late” and brought Lazarus back to life because that was right before He himself would be killed on the cross. I wrote this piece a while back about Lazarus’ family,
Jesus, Where are You?
artistic processing of Lazarus’ family
“I heard He was on His way. But why isn’t He already here?
Death has already entered, where was He on the date when darkness was near?
“If only He was just here,” I said
“this wouldn’t have happened.”
“He’s on His way.” I was told. And yes, I’ve heard, but why wasn’t He here?
There He is, but He’s too late. How do I tell Him, He has missed the date?
I told Him the news as I lamented and mourned, I have felt His tears meet mine.
He felt this pain too. “If only He was here,” I thought.
But He is now.
He walked towards death and His presence brought life. All along He knew, the timing didn’t defeat His power.
And now I hear of His court date for His own death. I know He defeated it once, but this seems too much to bear?
What do I do when He isn’t here? I’ve learned once before. I saw His power upon arrival. He taught me it’s okay to weep, even when His victory is near. And so for now I will mourn and ask, “Jesus, where are you?” while reminding myself He is never late and will be here soon.”
How often do we feel God’s timing is off and His love is not present when we don’t see Him arriving yet? How often do we ask Him where He is when we are aching? We can know that God has always fulfilled His promises, unlike man. He is trustworthy. He does arrive at the right time. He makes all things right. He restores, He brings back to life, and He will continue to until all is made right.
We already know that we will be restored and we know that He wins.
Learning God’s love is a blessing we all have the gift of receiving. If you are struggling to know Him and to know His love, I challenge you to read His word, pray, ask Him questions, and journal. Ask yourself what definition of love you hold, and is that the True definition? Is love that limited that it comes and goes when life is easy or hard? I would love to talk in the comments below!
Thank you for reading,
Tay, I love this. I’ve been in a weird season of waiting and wrestling with where life is taking me, and this was challenging and reassuring. God is never late, and He loves me. That should give me peace over my life and what is to come, even when things feel strange and stagnant.
I love your perspective on the Lazarus story and the poem you wrote! It’s wild how Jesus responds to honest prayers. Martha and Mary both started with the same sentiment (“If you had been here…”), but Martha quickly rushed to “even now I know…” Jesus met her where she was at and encouraged her faith. And then Mary came. She didn’t offer any theological analysis of the situation, and neither did Jesus. He wept with her. Such a wild story to tell in the middle of John’s testimony to the deity of Jesus. Our God comes close in suffering and sorrow. He weeps with us. He loves so deeply. It’s beautiful. Thanks for shining a light on that!
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