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How can I believe that God loves me after all Iíve been through?


My life has really been tough, especially these past few years. How can I believe that God loves me after all Iíve been through?

Steve Answers:

I certainly don’t know all that you’ve been through. When you say that your life has really been tough, my heart goes out to you, and I want to say “I’m so sorry!”

Part of me also wants to say “I wish none of the bad stuff would have happened to you,” but that seems rather impossible. Everyone has tough times, even though some certainly have it tougher than others. Your tough times might be a “10,” and somebody else might scream out when they hit a “5.” Either way, it’s tough.

When tough times come, how do you handle it? Some fight back; others run away; and still others find themselves paralyzed, injured, or beaten down.

I feel extremely blessed because I was born into a family with a mom and dad, and they loved me. Many people don’t get that luxury. I had siblings, and we fought like many siblings do, but we made it through, and we have a strong loyalty to each other. Again, many people don’t. Why did I have it so good? It wasn’t because I deserved it more than somebody else. In a sense, those are the cards I was dealt. I am very blessed.

When I’ve gone on mission trips to poor areas of the world, I often wonder, Why wasn’t I born here? My life would be completely different. But I had no say in when or where I was born or who my “family” would be. I doubt that you had any say in that matter, either.

That takes us back to “What do you do with what you have been given?”

You asked how you might be able to believe God loves you after all you’ve been through. Let me turn that question around: How would you have made it to where you are if it weren’t for the fact that God loves you? When I read in the Bible about the devil roaming this world like a wild lion, trying to devour everyone (1 Peter 5:8), it seems as though it’s a miracle that you’re still standing! I would label that as one example that God loves you.

I’m not trying to use scare tactics; I really mean it. Sometimes we think that we’re on our own and we just need to try a little harder and everything will work out all right. That’s simply not true.

Perhaps the biggest example of going through tough times was the life and ministry of Jesus. Intent on helping others, He got hounded just about every step of the way. In the end His closest friends deserted Him, one of his disciples turned traitor on Him, and both political and religious leaders perverted justice so they could crucify Him. Now, that sounds like a really tough time!

I don’t know about you, but there are times I expect that my life should be easier because I’ve committed it to Jesus. But here’s what Jesus told His followers: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Matthew 16:24-26, Message).1

If you’ve never experienced love from another person, you might not even know how to comprehend God’s love for you. That doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you. You just need to discover it for yourself. Here are some ways that might help you understand God’s love for you.

1. Identify places where you have seen love.
I’m talking about not only romantic love, but a love that demonstrates complete unselfishness for someone else, consistently. Think beyond a puppy who licks its owner’s face because the owner fed the puppy earlier. I’m talking about really putting it on the line for another person. Where have you seen that? The most extreme example I know is Christ’s death for you and for me. He died in our place so we could live in His place (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).

2. Read of God’s love in Scripture.
It’s all over Scripture. Here are just a few examples from John 15 (NLT):2

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love” (verse 9).

“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you” (verse 12).

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (verse 13).
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (verse 18).

I would also recommend that you read Psalms. Try reading one each day. Because of your question, I would say to start with Psalms 91, 92, 93, and 94.

3.Look around you. Sometimes our problems absorb so much of our attention that we fail to see God’s love all over the place. Some see it in what happens in nature, or circumstances, or sheer beauty, or laughter, or kindness. Be on the lookout and challenge another person to look as well; then compare notes after a day or two.

4. Listen to others. Ask other people where they see God’s love. In a sense, you’re doing that by asking me. But ask other people as well.

5. Look beyond yourself. A surefire way to get out of depression and feeling really bad about your situation is to go find somebody who is in a situation worse than you and then help them. Perhaps you’ve heard of the person who admitted, “I complained because I had no shoes until I found someone who had no feet.” Go help somebody!

I’ve found that following Christ doesn’t mean that tough times cease. But I’ve also found that Jesus gives me purpose and power to live for Him in spite of tough times. Jesus told His disciples, “Trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world” (John 16:32, 33, Message).

Take this as an invitation to follow Jesus. He offers love, joy, and peace in a world full of tough times. I think He’s the only way any of us can make it. And that’s one more demonstration of God’s love for us. 

1 Texts credited to Message are from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.
2 Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Steve Case is a youth pastor, popular speaker, and mission trip leader. He’s also president of Involve Youth, in Sacramento, California.
Got a spiritual question? Send it to: Pastor Steve • INSIGHT, 55 W. Oak Ridge Dr., Hagers­town, MD 21740-7390. •

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