As I reflect back over the last five or six months, I found myself asking a progression of three questions.
At the beginning, the question is WHY? Why is this happening? Why is there a global pandemic? Why is racial tension coming to a head right now? Why is our nation is so divided in so many ways?
I think this is a good and natural question to ask at the beginning. But I’m not sure that it’s very helpful.
So a more helpful question becomes WHAT? What is God doing in us and among us in all of this? We looked at this last week. This has been and continues to be a very valuable question for me. What is He awakening in me? What can I see now that I couldn’t see before? What am I to do differently as a result of this awareness?
A significant part of what God is awakening in me is coming through his Word. Recently I re-read Paul’s almost effusive description of the love of God in Romans 8. Paul asks, “what can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus?” And the long beautiful answer is nothing, absolutely nothing and no one!
So, in light of this reality, when I come to a place of struggle or frustration or sadness or confusion, the better question becomes HOW? How is God loving me, loving us, in this?
He is somehow.
It’s all He does.
It’s His very nature (1 John 4:8).
This question seems to be the most helpful because it is refocusing and redirecting. It has a very practical effect of taking my eyes off of me (self-pity) and turning them upwards and outwards. I start to look for different things – for the good and holy vs the painful and ugly. It makes me look more broadly and creatively for the love of God in circumstances that do not feel or look like the love that I want or expect. I have to look for more than a warm, divine hug or encouraging God-word. I have to look for a weightier love that will gently but firmly prune and correct and discipline like the good, good Father He is. I find myself looking to and for the love of God and then growing, bit by bit, more deeply into this Love!
May we, like Paul, be “absolutely convinced” that he is always and in everything loving me and then ask the better question: How are you loving me in this?