“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” ~Deuteronomy 31:8
Do you struggle to believe that God loves you? That He will never leave you nor forsake you? That He longs to bless and care for you?
“Jesus loves you!” True as it is, this phrase has become somewhat of a cliche today, hasn’t it? Overused and misused, it’s right up there with “God bless you”. Add to that our overuse of the word, Love in general. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one. We love everything these days, don’t we? Our homes, our cars, our careers, movies, books, food, pleasure, etc, etc.
Here’s another term that’s been overused and misused to the point of insignificance: Hero. Have you noticed that everyone is a hero nowadays? If you do something for me and I appreciate it, you’re my hero. “An ice cold Frapp on a hot and miserable day? Thank you very much, you’re my hero!”
Jesus loves you, God bless you, You’re my hero! As wonderful as these phrases are, when they are carelessly spoken by those who use them in a superficial way, they come to be seen as rhetorical, ineffectual, and meaningless. A sort of greeting, or space filler at the beginning or end of a conversation. Perhaps a catchphrase that makes us feel as though we personally are off the hook for actually loving or blessing someone in action ourselves. Or how about a cute saying on a water bottle?
It’s no wonder we grapple with the concept of God’s undying love and heroic acts on behalf of His precious and unique creation. But what does Word of God have to say on the subject?
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” ~Deuteronomy 31:8
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. ~Psalm 86:5-7
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. ~Psalm 139:7-12
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! ~Psalm 139:16-17
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. ~Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV
I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. ~Jeremiah 31:3 NIV
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ~Matthew 10:29-31
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. ~John 6:44
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. ~John 14:2-3
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8
“If God is for us, who can be against us? Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ~Romans 8:31-39
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. ~Ephesians 2:4-5
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. ~1 John 3:1 NIV
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. ~1 John 4:10
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” ~Revelation 21:3-4
That’s a lot to take in, isn’t? And this is only a drop in the bucket of the many verses that tell us just how much God loves us with an undying, heroic love!
But, you might say, how does this fit in with the suffering, trials, and persecution that Christians around the world experience? That’s a fair question. I’m no stranger to suffering and trials, though I can say I’ve not had to experience much in the way of persecution so far. One thing I’ve learned though, is that there’s not a verse in the Bible that promises life will be easy when you follow Christ. Just the opposite, in fact. To expect anything less would be to set your sights on the wrong target. The mistake is in thinking we deserve more than we do, or anything at all.
Our salvation is entirely a work of God’s grace and mercy. We don’t deserve it and we could never earn it. Our comfort is in knowing that, while we do suffer in this life, not one second of that suffering is pointless or wasted as we submit to Him in our tribulation. This cannot be said of those who don’t know Christ. Our loving Father only allows those things in our lives that He deems necessary and for a purpose. And be assured, He understands our pain and will not allow it to go on one minute more than necessary to accomplish that purpose. His great love for us cannot allow anything more.. or less.
As difficult as it may seem, we must choose to trust Him in the fire. Make up your mind to trust that He is good and that He has your best interest at heart. Stay the course, look forward to the eternal, keep your eyes on on Him, and submit to His purposes; even when you don’t understand the why. And in the end, you will come forth as gold, Job 23:10.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~2 Corinthians 8:7-11, 16-18
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Cover photo: iDisciple.org