Loving God Must Be Nothing Less Than Knowing Pain

Out of greatest loss, the purest gains do spring up. To be committed to know no other thing than Christ, is to have the advantage of knowing more than all these lesser things put together.

Christ knows our emptiness and our apathy towards life and Him, He would simply have us know this — which He then accomplishes through some of the most fiery trials we have come to know.

But, what are the benefits that so motivate this God of love to approach us through such difficult means? They are meeting God, they are knowing God for the One Who transcends all earthly majesty and comfort; they are seeing the emptiness inside too deep to be bridged by mortal effort, but only by divine love.

This is what makes our mortal experience worth completing — God is working in us, on behalf of our greatest happiness, to bring us nearer to His side; to seek for His face, which cleanses our hearts from all God-less pursuits that begin and end in vanity.

Can we deign to thank God for less, to request that He would do less for us, so that we might not be so bound up in Him? Such would be a vain and rebellious limitation on our God. We should grieve His Spirit and hold Him afar off from us.

No, that we would rather He shake us than leave us alone, that He would approach us in our misery, then deny us in our bliss. Nothing less can be knowing God, loving Him with all our hearts.

Reviewing “The Science of Happiness”

I was reading the above titled article on happiness in an old Time magazine today — something I don’t often do — when I realized just how faithful God has been to me in all the many ways He has given me, both biologically and through spiritual growth, to be able to deal with ongoing realities of life that make me feel unhappy, and sometimes deflated.

I truly have so much to be thankful for, not because my life is wonderful or because I have reached that point of being fully satisfied with myself, but because of HIM. He really is the thing in all this that makes life worth living and continuing — for me, and also for you. Don’t believe me? Then try Him for yourself.

I do not promise that your life will become perfect, or your entire personality will be made still, but He will increase your life, and make you know what it was really meant to be.

I’m determined to watch steps and tongue so they won’t land me in trouble.
I decided to hold my tongue
as long as Wicked is in the room.
“Mum’s the word,” I said, and kept quiet.
But the longer I kept silence
The worse it got—
my insides got hotter and hotter.
My thoughts boiled over;
I spilled my guts.

“Tell me, what’s going on, God?
How long do I have to live?
Give me the bad news!
You’ve kept me on pretty short rations;
my life is string too short to be saved.
Oh! we’re all puffs of air.
Oh! we’re all shadows in a campfire.
Oh! we’re just spit in the wind.
We make our pile, and then we leave it.

“What am I doing in the meantime, Lord?
Hoping, that’s what I’m doing—hoping
You’ll save me from a rebel life,
save me from the contempt of dunces.
I’ll say no more, I’ll shut my mouth,
since you, Lord, are behind all this.
But I can’t take it much longer.
When you put us through the fire
to purge us from our sin,
our dearest idols go up in smoke.
Are we also nothing but smoke?

“Ah, God, listen to my prayer, my
cry—open your ears.
Don’t be callous;
just look at these tears of mine.
I’m a stranger here. I don’t know my way—
a migrant like my whole family.
Give me a break, cut me some slack
before it’s too late and I’m out of here.”

Psalm 39

What I’ve Finally Figured Out

Call me “the Quester.” I’ve been king over Israel in Jerusalem. I looked most carefully into everything, searched out all that is done on this earth. And let me tell you, there’s not much to write home about. God hasn’t made it easy for us. I’ve seen it all and it’s nothing but smoke—smoke, and spitting into the wind.

Life’s a corkscrew that can’t be straightened,
A minus that won’t add up.

I said to myself, “I know more and I’m wiser than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I’ve stockpiled wisdom and knowledge.” What I’ve finally concluded is that so-called wisdom and knowledge are mindless and witless—nothing but spitting into the wind.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-17

I’ve thought about it, if my life was so “good” that I could say that it was exactly what I wanted, would it truly be better than the life I have now? If the things God uses — which I often don’t appreciate in the moment — to humble me and correct what needs to be straightened in my character, were not apart of so much of my experience with Him, would I still love Him?

Sound like a silly question? Not if you consider something He has been showing me again and again and again and again — yes, I’ve needed to see it that much — in this season: If I did not know I needed God, and it was not a fact and an emotion and a definition of who I am that faces me every day, than I would not love God.

This idea takes me back to the verse in the Bible where it says:

This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

(1 John 4:9-10 The Message)

So, the very idea that I would believe that I could love God without Him acting in my life, to push me toward Him, is choosing to believe what is absolutely opposed to the gospel. And to find fault with the tools He uses to accomplish this is arrogant; I am questioning God’s knowledge of the nature of my sin and my primary opposition to Him — I am telling Him He doesn’t know what He is talking about, and I know myself better than He does.

Yet, who knows sin better than God? Who has seen its devastation more clearly, and knows from whence this destruction came? Whom can I trust with this grievous heart of mine more than One Whose holy heart can wrap mine up with mercy that can only belong to a God like this One?