God Cares About our Hard Questions

I grew up living in fear of God. No, not the fear that means revering Him, but the quaking fear of being pursued by an unapproachable, vindictive God who sought to harm me. I pictured Him as standing above me with a sword ready to strike me down and cast me into hellfire if I stepped even one toenail out of the way of what the church dictated.

I learned not to question God and not to question the ministers who were set in authority over us, because they were God’s messengers speaking for God. Spiritual, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse from a minister locked me in a prison with no way out.

BUT GOD…

Thanks be to God who broke the chains and did provide a way out. It’s an ongoing healing journey, but God has graciously led me to a way of love through Jesus, a love we didn’t hear much of. God is love. He delights to save us, not to harm us. He doesn’t want anyone to perish, and He doesn’t condemn us.

God doesn’t stop loving us when questions plague our hearts. It doesn’t mean we have a lack of faith or are being irreverent if we approach Him with them. He invites us to pour out all our confusion to Him, even though He already knows what is bothering us. He may not always give us answers here in this broken world, but He cares about our questions and uses them to help us in mourning our losses.

We can’t always trace God’s hand in events in this world and in our lives, but we can trust His heart. His arms are always open for us to run into and to be embraced to His heart of everlasting, unfailing love. He won’t always answer our questions, but it is His pleasure to give us grace to hold His hand and trust His heart and His infinitely higher thoughts and plan. He won’t always stop the pain, but He will bring beauty out of it in His way and timing. He won’t always fix what’s broken while we’re on this earth, but He gives us the courage to let go of our plans as we surrender to His control and remember His love never fails, no matter what.

We are not alone when we ask God “Why?”

  • When the Israelites wailed and complained and blamed Moses about their plight, Moses was frustrated and asked God, Why have You been so hard on Your servant?” (Numbers 11:11) It’s like he asked, “Here I am serving You, God, so why is all this happening? Why are You laying such a heavy burden on me?” God answered by qualifying others to help Moses carry the burden. The people were still discontent, but God strengthened him to carry on.

  • David asked, “Oh Lord, why do You stand far off? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) He was in deep lament over all the sin and injustice against the innocent, the poor, and the helpless. It seemed God was unconcerned and hiding Himself. Though God didn’t directly mete out the justice right then, He did help David to focus on God’s faithful character as the Helper of the helpless. Someday there will be an end to all the oppression.

  • The prophet Habbakuk’s name means “he who embraces.” It was through grappling with tough questions that he came to a firm faith. In the first chapter, he asked God, “Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing?” (Habbakuk 1:3) His heart was pained that God wasn’t immediately exacting justice against wrongdoings. He learned that things don’t happen according to our schedule or our plan but only in the way and timing of God.

  • In the anguish of his spirit, Job asked, “Why have You made me Your target?” (Job 7:20) He lost all his children and his possessions. He acknowledges he is not sinless, even though he had a close relationship with God, but he can’t understand why it seems God is destroying him. Though Job didn’t get his children back and He would continue to feel the loss, God eventually gave him more children and more possessions than before. God restored his spirit and gave him grace to go on, and his faith became even deeper through this devastating trial.

  • The most remarkable question of all was by Jesus who took our place and suffered for our sins. In the deepest soul anguish ever, He cried out to His Father, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) He didn’t just “feel” like God forsook Him like we sometimes do. He really was forsaken. For us. Now even when it “feels” like God has abandoned us, we have the steadfast promise that He never will.

God gives us these stories and so many more to shine like beacons of hope that we are not alone. He will always be with us, even when it seems like He’s not.

Why God?

Before Austin sings this song, he shares how God showed him that it’s okay to ask Him the hard questions.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to Me,
all of you who are weary
and carry heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.‘”
Matthew 11:28

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18

God’s Lens of Love and Grace Overcomes Satan’s Vicious Lies That God Doesn’t Care

“See what great love the Father
has lavished on us, that we should
be called children of God! 
And that is what we are!”

1 John 3:1

That is what we are? Children of God? Yes! God is a Father who will never, ever hurt us like earthly fathers sometimes do. He delights in us, so deeply that Jesus came to suffer and die in our place. Willingly. Lovingly. Lavishly.

Do you ever feel like you know this in your head, but your heart sometimes struggles to believe it? Your legs feel too rubbery to get up and move forward and receive this truth He so freely offers? Your hands feel too weak to take hold of His proffered hand of love and grace? Especially in times of vulnerability when Satan pummels us with his vicious lies and stomps us under his feet?

Believe me, Satan knows where we’re most vulnerable. Terminal or chronic illness can sap our energy. Depression and other mental illnesses can suck us down, down, down into a deep, dark hole where we lose hope and can’t see a speck of light anymore to lead us out. Losses of so many kinds can make us wonder where God is. Loss of self and devastation of lives through abuse or other traumas. The death of loved ones. Betrayals. Desertions. Divisions. Loss of jobs and financial means. The pandemic and all its repercussions. And on and on it goes. And Satan stalks as a hungry and determined lion watching, waiting, and pouncing on us when we’re weak and vulnerable.

When we’re discouraged, we become an easy target, and it can be harder to fight off those negative voices of never being enough. Those critical voices that say we’re unlovable, unwanted, and surely not needed in this world. Those vicious voices that say Jesus does not care and there is no hope or help for us.

Satan knows exactly when our bodies or souls are weary and feeling too weak to hang onto God’s truth. He sometimes convinces us to look through our lens of skewed perspectives because of past or present trauma and hurting words and actions that can drown out the remembrance of our identity in Christ Jesus. He doesn’t want us to look through the lens of truth that we are Jesus’ beloved, that Jesus cares so deeply, and He is with us no matter how difficult our struggles are.

Recently, I was looking through that distorted lens before I even realized it. My heart became so heavy, and I couldn’t understand why. Help me, Jesus! I turned to the One who knows and understands the deepest troubles of our hearts. The One who cries with us and longs for us to release our burdens into His hands.

And He graciously opened one of His promises to me:

“The God of peace will soon
crush Satan under your feet.
The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you!”

Romans 16:20

Yes, Jesus in His powerful love and grace has already gained the victory over Satan, but as long as we’re on earth, Satan will try his utmost to bring us to doubt that truth. The grace of Jesus will always be with us here and help us through the heaviest trial, but won’t that be a glorious day when Satan will forever be crushed under our feet?!

If we hear condemning or shaming voices, it’s not God. God may sometimes lead us in a way of correction out of love, but He will never condemn us even when we fail or fall. Even though He knows that in our weakness, we sometimes do take up those distorted lens Satan digs up and gives us. He can and will remove those lens and again give us His lens of love and grace. The lens He sees us through. His lovable and wanted child who is needed in this world to spread the same love He gives us to others.

“So now there is no condemnation
for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
‘I have loved you with an everlasting love;
 I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'”

Jeremiah 31:3

August Hope Whispers

Messages and chalk creations on lawns and sidewalks or in windows breathe hope as they encourage love and kindness.

Every seed of kindness we plant,

However small, noticed or unnoticed,

Can bloom hope in the heart of a hurting soul,

A soul aching to be loved and cared about.

Every tiny seed planted will grow

And sprinkle seeds to others,

Making a difference in the lives of many.

Lessons from Charlotte’s Web

Recently Charlotte’s Web was on TV, not the animated one, but the one with real life people and animals who talk. It brought back such fond memories. I loved that book as a child!

The right words can change someone’s world for the better.

Kindness unrecognized doesn’t make it any less of a kindness. (When Wilbur was taken back from the fair to the farm, Charlotte died alone at the fairgrounds. She showed kindness from her loving heart, not for recognition.)

Having a true friend is a tremendous thing. (Charlotte had saved Wilbur’s life, and Wilbur wondered what he could do for her. Charlotte told him he has been a friend.)

Acts of kindness have a ripple effect in many lives. (After Charlotte’s kindness to Wilbur, many people started acting kinder to each other.)

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.

Nature is a Retreat of Hope

“All God’s creatures are a unique expression of life,
whether on earth for 100 days or 100 years.”
Anthony Douglas 

Thank you to my brother John for these stunning photos.
(🙂 Please respect copyright laws. 🙂)

Couch’s Spadefoot – Did you know they spend up to 10 months buried underground and come out during the monsoon season to breed?

My, what big ears you have! “The better to hear you with, my dear!” 🙂

Big feet for balancing 🙂

Here in SD, I have only seen one Dove species, the Mourning Dove, but John was able to capture photos of the five main dove species in his area of Arizona.

Common Ground Dove

Eurasian Collared Dove

Inca Dove

Mourning Dove

White-Winged Dove