Today (in)Courage is featuring a post of mine where I share about one of the loneliest times in my life. It was a season when I had few friends and felt as though far more people were against me than for me. Rejection, resentment, and ridicule gouged gaping soul wounds that later twisted themselves into knotty scar tissue, tender to the slightest provocation.
During those dark days, I held tight to Jesus and to all he is and all he promises. I knew he was near. I felt his presence, guidance and protection. I truly don’t know how I would have survived without my savior. I don’t think I would have. But can I get really honest for a second and let you in on a secret I didn’t want to admit even to myself?
Sometimes God’s love confused me more than it comforted me.
I couldn’t understand why he created me to be so unlikable. How could he make something that he loved so much to have it hated by others?
So I loved him and I relied on him; and yet I doubted him. I didn’t question his existence or his power. Instead, my skepticism circled around how he felt about me. I believed he loved me out of obligation, as if he regretted making me and felt only pity and duty toward his deficient creation.
Awkwardly, I withdrew from God the Father and from the Holy Spirit, but I remained pursuant of God the Son.The more I learned about Jesus … the more I knew Jesus … his character … his holiness … his sacrifice. The truth that radiates from Christ penetrates and permeates a being in a manner that leaves little, if any, room for doubt.
Jesus understands human suffering, because Jesus’ suffering as a human is unmatched.
My question about how God could make something that he loved so much to have it hated by others was answered in one word. Jesus.
I love how Tim Keller explains this in his book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering:
Jesus lost all his glory so that we could be clothed in it. He was shut out so we could get access. He was bound, nailed, so that we could be free. He was cast out so we could approach. And Jesus took away the only kind of suffering that can really destroy you: that is being cast away from God. He took so that now all suffering that comes into your life will only make you great. A lump of coal under pressure becomes a diamond. And the suffering of a person in Christ only turns you into somebody gorgeous.”
By drawing closer to Jesus, I then gained a deeper understanding of God’s heart and his love for those he created in his image. There has never been a greater demonstration of love than what God accomplished on the cross. You see, sin is expensive. It corrupts. It bankrupts. It destroys. The payment to defeat it had to incomprehensibly exorbitant. But God loved us … me … you … far too much to leave our sin debt unpaid.
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” I John 4:9-12.
Loving Jesus more fully also enables me to accept the realities of his adoration and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I absolutely cannot claim to love Jesus wholly when I reject what he says about me. I can’t have it both ways. If I believe the old lies that tell me I’m less valuable than others, then I’m not fully accepting that Jesus deemed me worth dying for.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:14-17
So when you feel like no one in this great big, wild, sinful world is for you, please remember Jesus. Remember that His suffering and your suffering are not without value. And remember that even though you are a being who makes mistakes, your being is not a mistake.