When you think of God’s promises, do you always think that they are for something awesome? What if He promised that bad things would happen to you – that life would be hard – would that make you love and trust Him less? It should actually make you love and trust Him more. Why? Let’s go.
Last Tuesday at the Porch, JP finished off the Romans 8 series by focusing on God’s love for you. As he put it, God’s love cuts through all accusations, condemnation, and separation to give you good without reservation. Amazing! As the Apostle Paul put it in Romans 8:38-39, nothing can separate you from God’s love for you in Christ…not whatever life brings, not death, not anything that is happening to you or ever will happen to you, not any spiritual force, and not anything in creation. NOTHING can remove you from God’s love! That’s a huge truth – thank God for it, and ask Him to help that soak into your soul.
The problem is, all the stuff in that list of things that can’t separate you from God’s love, can make you really feel like God must not love you! Breakups. Cancer. Singleness. Job loss. Addiction. Sickness. Death. They all happen, either to you or to people you know. And they can cause you to doubt God’s love, unless you realize that His promises to you are so much more than an (out of context) Jeremiah 29:11-style “coffee mug promise” that everything will make you feel prosperous and hopeful.
So what has God actually promised? Here are two promises that you must count on in order to be sure of God’s love for you, and to have peace and joy in the middle of a crazy and jacked-up world.
In the middle of John 16:33, Jesus tells His disciples, “…in this world you will have trouble.” That’s a summary of a whole list of bad things He said would happen to them, from being hated and persecuted to being murdered. Jesus was being real – hard times were coming.
Peter, who heard this straight from Jesus, passed on the same message to Christians in his later letters. In 1 Peter 4:12 he tells believers not to be surprised at the “fiery trials” they are going through, as if something strange was happening to them. He’s basically telling them, “it’s not strange that you have trouble even though you’re a Christian. In fact, you should expect it!” (And more than expect it – rejoice in it – but that’s another blog post).
An important part of this first promise is to know WHY hard things happen. It’s not because God doesn’t love you; it’s because our world is full of sin and death. Jesus is just acknowledging current reality.
So when trouble happens in your life, whatever it is, it shouldn’t make you turn your back on God or think that He doesn’t love you. Instead, remember that He told you it would happen. So that promise came true. Let the trouble remind you that you can trust Him and take Him at His word.
Thankfully, Jesus didn’t just stop with a “life’s going to be hard, deal with it” type of promise. In the last part of John 16:33 He tells His disciples that they will have trouble, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
What does that mean? It means that if you are a Christian, your salvation is won, your sin doesn’t own or define you, your future is secure, and your faithfulness will be rewarded. Jesus has overcome every possible consequence of sin and brokenness, and He’s also going to come back to destroy sin and to make everything new and right in the future.
Combine that promise with the awesome truth that God works everything – even bad things – for your good, and the amazing implication is this – being a Christian and having God love you doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen; it means that you can overcome those bad things with God’s strength, and God will actually make something good come from it.
Nothing bad that happens should make you stop loving God. And nothing bad that happens means that He’s stopped loving you. There’s nothing that can make you lose His love if you are in Christ. Take heart.