Over the last two years, the economy has left many families, like mine, facing hard times. With the loss of jobs, increased financial strain, foreclosures and a steadily falling house market, and skyrocketing gas prices, many are “enduring,” or at least trying to endure.
In years past, times like these may have caused me to question God’s love. Not anymore, though, as the truth of His unfailing love for me has been established in my heart through teaching I learned from Joyce Meyer. As a result of her childhood of abuse and mistreatmeant by her earthly father, Joyce had trouble believing that a heavenly Father loved her. In addition to diving into Scripture about God’s love, she started to constantly tell herself, “I know God loves me,” until she really started to believe it.
Hearing her share this experience, grabbed my attention. As a P.K., Bible college graduate, and pastor’s wife, I knew Scripture taught that God loves me. Yet, somehow when difficult times would arise — like the near-death delivery of our fourth daughter and my husband’s loss of a job — the question of God’s love would rise up.
So I started practicing what had worked for her, saying aloud over and over again, “I know God loves me.” Soon, what I was saying out loud began to take root in my heart. I found less and less that I was tempted to question God’s love for me during trying situations.
Reflecting on Jesus and the cross, I realize that sometimes I’ve taken for granted His endurance there. While remembering His physical sufferings, I hadn’t really considered that Jesus was tempted to give up, to think that God had deserted Him forever, and to question God’s love for Him — the same things that I’m tempted to do.
Physical suffering, pain, and loss can cause me to feel worn down, weakened, and more vulnerable when it comes to questioning God’s love. Yet, Jesus, my example, was unshakeable, even on the cross. He was grounded in the knowledge of God’s love and understood that “nothing can separate us from His love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below; there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39).
Compared to what Jesus endured, how can I complain? Difficult times can’t possibly compare to what He experienced, carrying the sins of the world. What could be more devastating or tormenting? How tempting would it be to think that God didn’t love me under unbearable pressure, along with the physical torture?
1 John 4:9, 10 states, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world … to be the propitiation for our sins.”
God’s love sent Jesus to the world and it also gave Him the power to endure, even in His darkest hour. And because Jesus endured, Hebrews 2:1-3 points me to fix my eyes on Him so that I can too.
Jesus is my example of endurance. Fixing and keeping my eyes on Him is how I can endure. Scripture assures me that focusing on Him will help me to not grow weary or lose heart.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Committing myself to believing — really believing — that God loves me has been a turning point in my faith, making all the difference in being able to endure the hardships and disappointments in life.