How Your View of God Intersects With Your Pain
You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. ~ John 8:32
Theology matters. I'm serious. What you believe about God determines your life outlook, which is why it's so important to know and practice the truth.
We have but ONE source of objective truth, and that is God's Word. The truth is so powerful, the enemy will stop at nothing to misconstrue it, to malign it, and to cause it to be misused in our lives. If you have ever been confused, confronted by pain, or caught in a web of deceit, chances are, you've struggled to believe the truth about God. The burden of your anxiety and depression can be greatly helped with the truths I'm going to share with you.
Our human paradigm is to call God into judgment based on our sense of entitlement ("I am innocent and deserve better"), our experience with oppressors (others did serious harm – why did God allow it?), and our life circumstances (I've got to work harder to better myself because God won't do it). In other words, we form our view of God based on our view of ourselves (self-centricity: we've made ourselves gods) rather than seeking to know who God is, and understanding our place in His economy (read: h-u-m-i-l-i-t-y).
Far from simply being pawns in God's system (as if He were a celestial tyrant, capriciously directing the cosmos), we have an opportunity to evaluate the truth about God in every thought or experience. Each event is an invitation to relate to Him and cooperate with His purposes. If we're going to live sanely in an insane world, we've got to get this right.
Truth #1: God Is Good
Here's one of the primeval truths that Satan questioned when tempting Eve in the first garden. And you and I must constantly face this question honestly many times per day: is God good? Your answer will depend on your theology. Much more than simply gritting your teeth to agree with Scripture, you need to experience this truth for yourself.
Psalm 106 opens with praise to God followed by a pronouncement of His goodness and enduring, steadfast love. What comes next is a narrative on how many times we fail, and how He continues to pursue us, rescue us, hear our cries for help, and welcome us into His presence. When we acknowledge the truth about ourselves (that we are bent on going our own way), we can appreciate the goodness of God shown by His love in reclaiming us.
Truth #2: God Is Sovereign
What do you do when life is spinning out of control? If you're anything like me, you scramble to fix things and re-establish some sense of normal. But maybe you, like me, have found that all the scrambling is just as fruitful as trying to reassemble the proverbial Humpty Dumpty.
Times like these tempt us to believe that God is out of control (because we are out of control). A second primeval event in the first garden was Satan's suggestion to Eve that she could be like God – that she could be in control. That's exactly what we humans tend to do: believe that we have the power to make things like we want them to be.
How much more peaceful it is to rest in the truth that God is still on His throne, directing outcomes as Psalm 115:3 affirms. For us nervous types, this is a hard truth to bear, especially when we see or experience harm in our fallen world. It's difficult to believe God is in control when evil is happening. That's when another truth becomes helpful:
Truth #3: God Redeems
"Redeem" means to buy back, or to take something worthless and make it into something useful. I have direct experience in my life with God's redemption. He took a floundering, broken person who had lost everything, including hope, yet His is turning me into a joyful, purposeful, hope-filled daughter. True to His Word, He turned ashes into beauty and created something entirely new.
That's the thing about God. Because He's God, He's powerful enough to take really bad, evil stuff and turn it into something glorious! And He's not done – we have yet to see all the good plans in store, and how He's going to turn things around.
Truth #4: God Is Glorious
At some point in our lives, we will question God's glory. We'll wonder:
- How can God possibly get glory out of this?
- Why is God's glory important?
- Why does God deserve glory?
- Why should I be concerned about God's glory?
Truth #5: God Is God, We Are Not
All the former truths rest on this foundational truth: we are not the Creator; we are the created. His thoughts and ways are all "higher" than ours (that is, He has the zoom-out picture). We see things from ground level, from one point of view. God has a helicopter view and omniscient perspective. What's more, He's working more than one angle at once. He has many purposes for many people as events unfold. Perhaps, from our view, something is headed in the direction of a train wreck, but then God does something wonderful and amazing that we could never imagine!
Take, for example, the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus could have arrived earlier and healed him before his death. Instead, when Lazarus had been buried four whole days and all looked lost, Jesus brought him back to life in front of friends and family! What a better outcome, and what greater glory to God!
The sooner we get real with ourselves and take our hands off the steering wheel of life; the sooner we acknowledge these truths about God and submit to His goodness, control, and glory – the sooner we get to rest in the comfort that it's all going to be ok. We are safe, we are loved, we are the children He carefully watches over. God stands ready to help as soon as we ask!
How To Practice Truth
Walking in truth requires practice in order to yield peace. You may already be pretty good at rehearsing negative thoughts because it's a habit (no judgment here). Living in freedom from lies is no different: habits result from intentional practice.
- Think about what you're thinking about
- Run your thoughts through the filters of your beliefs:
- Is God still good?
- Is God still in control?
- Is God still a redeemer?
- Will God get His glory?
- If you can't remember Scriptures that answer those questions, write one on a notecard for each, so you have a ready answer when you're tempted to doubt (get ideas HERE)
- Be alert for "God moments" when He shows you proof of truth:
- Are you breathing? God is good.
- Did God answer a prayer? God is still in control.
- Did you see something good come out of a bad situation? God redeems.
- Did you see God do something that magnified His power? God is glorious!
*Note: if you are in an abusive relationship, it is not God's will for you to stand there and take it. God is a rescuer, not an oppressor, and He takes no pleasure in your being harmed. It's not your job to figure out how to make your toxic relationship fit with God's will. If this is you, get help from a safe source.
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©2023 Julianne Knapp. First published 5.2.23