Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

The Love of God. . .

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 02 December 2007

We have a beautiful crab apple tree in our backyard. It blooms for about a week and a half in late spring. It’s beautiful. And I highly doubt I'd appreciate its magnificent beauty if it were blooming today or last August 13th - or even if it bloomed an extra 2 weeks in May for that matter! That’s just not the way God created crab apple trees. To always be in fruit would kill a tree. As trees cycle from dormancy, to blossom, to fruitfulness, to loss, pruning, and dormancy again, without fluctuations in God’s blessing, so people basking in God’s blessing have seasons of growth and fruitfulness and seasons of loss, dryness and barrenness. The main difference between spiritual seasons and natural seasons is that nature moves in unison, whereas at any one time, different Christians in the same locality will be in different spiritual seasons. Some people will be over the moon, pampered with spiritual goose bumps, like John when receiving his revelation. Others will be languishing in the midst of an oppressive trial, like John was, as a prisoner on Patmos, when his vision commenced (Revelation 1:9). It would be a grave misunderstanding to think this means some have God’s favor and some do not, or to think you have fallen out of God’s love and blessing, when it is simply not your season for fruit. Just as nature is never not undergoing some process, God’s love is never absent from His children.

It's going on two years now since Pastor Mark did a sermon series from the Book of Job. He told me then -- and I've heard from others in ministry -- that studying and teaching from the Book of Job will inevitably bring about trials in the lives of both the teacher and his hearers. Have you had your share of trials? I believe I’ve had mine

Yes... Job crashed from prosperity to poverty, from health to sickness and from a large, happy family to devastating grief. Throughout it all there was not the slightest fluctuation in God’s love for him. And there's Joseph in the Book of Genesis who went from being the pampered, favorite son, to being a slave, then branded a rapist and incarcerated as a criminal, and finally exalted to political power, fame and fortune – all without any change in God’s attitude to him. And what about David? David moved from shepherd boy to giant killer, to King’s son-in-law, to fugitive, to King – with God being proud of him the whole time. We could talk too of Elijah, who slid from mountain top, to depression, to spectacular entry to heaven. Or we could burst out of the Old Testament into the New, and see the mightily blessed apostle Paul often having not even enough to eat, suffering horrific beatings, unjust prison sentences, pounded by natural disasters (snake bite, several ship wrecks, and so on) and God refusing to answer his prayers (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). On and on we could go, showing from God’s revelation to humanity that changing fortunes need not indicate changes in God’s favor or a lack of His Love.

When – as a congregation – we went through the Book of Acts last winter, I really took an interest -- more than any other time in my life -- to the conversion of the Apostle Paul. I think I was even envious of the Apostle Paul. Wouldn't it be awesome to be and feel so loved of God that the Lord would actually appear to you in blinding light as he did to Paul? But . . . would I feel loved of God if, like Paul, I reeled from one catastrophe to another – shipwreck after shipwreck, years languishing in prison, religious leaders wanting him dead, forsaken by Christians and so on? Not exactly the mind-picture we see when we think of the Love of God.

From the youngest age we learn the song, "Jesus Loves Me." Yes! Jesus loves us! A resounding “DUH!” This is a given. It's in His Word. What truly matters -- the only thing that matters -- is how much WE love God. This makes all the difference in how we LOVE others. Which is of course our mandate! (Luke 10:26). But have you ever wondered, “How can I love others when I don’t feel God’s love all that much myself?”

I have struggled myself with feeling God’s love. This along with my years of counseling people who didn’t feel "loved", has given me a compassion for the many of us who find ourselves "cheated" by God -- feeling that He is cold or distant. Some people simply feeling nothing. “What is wrong with me?” we worry, when feeling God seems so easy for our friends -- even unsaved friends. Over the next few months, this page will focus on seeking biblical answers for those of us who are perplexed and/or distressed over being unable to feel God’s love, or his presence or favor. How can we love others if we don't feel truly, deeply, passionately loved by God ourselves?

Christmastime is an especially difficult time for so many people: for those who’ve lost a loved one, for those who are single, for those who are elderly and alone. If we confuse circumstances with God’s favor, we are bound to suffer bouts of feeling unloved. Until we understand the heart of God and his plans for us. Nothing is more likely to crush our ability to feel loved than when God seems to be blessing others more than us. Don’t let that happen – to yourself or someone you know. Tucked in the heart of Scripture sleeps a tiny psalm of precious truth. David confesses that as a mother denies her baby access to her milk when it’s time for her darling to be weaned, so God sometimes denies us things we crave. Yet as a weaned infant lies warm and secure in its mother’s bosom, our soul can nestle into God, not knowing why we have been denied that which we have clamored for, but content to draw love and comfort from the Father’s heart. Sometime this Christmas season read it: Psalm 131. Then share it with someone else who needs it. Print it out on pretty paper. Tie it with a nice bow. And share what you’ve learned about The Love of God!

Esthermay Bentley-Goossen

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