Do you ever feel like God comes up short?
Do you ever think that your life would be completely different if God just changed one thing in your life?
Do these feelings or doubts ever make you wonder if God is trying to hold things back from you?
Personally, I’d answer yes to every single one of those questions.
I don’t mean that I used to answer yes to those questions. I’ve dealt with all three of those questions this week. I’m what they call a ‘work in progress’.
I’m SLOWLY becoming more comfortable with that though.
Sanctification is a process and much to my chagrin it does not happen overnight. In order to be sanctified, we must take the broken parts of ourselves to God and let Him give us new parts back. It’s not a very fun process because it requires admitting to God AND ourselves that we can’t handle everything that life throws at us.
Humility is difficult. That’s a truth that I feel we’re all comfortable with. This difficulty increases exponentially after we’ve experienced a heartbreak, loss, or failure.
All three of those experiences throw us into some kind of fight or flight mode. I rarely hit the wall and immediately ask God for help. My fight mode involves trying to take control of the situation and my flight mode involves retreating or shutting down emotionally.
In the book ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, one of the characters writes a guide for hitchhikers and puts the words ‘DON’T PANIC’ on the back of the book in large letters. I love this motto. We all need this reminder on a daily basis.
Even though we don’t all panic in a dramatic or explicit way, we all experience an internal panic from time to time. For Christians, our fear comes from the doubt that God might not get involved in the problem that we’re facing. Sometimes, we face the more dangerous idea that God just isn’t paying attention or flat out doesn’t care about our personal problems.
The really interesting thing about those two ideas or assumptions is that they are usually linked or the second directly follows the first. We first wonder if God is going to fix our problem and then the possibility pops into our minds that He doesn’t care. For me, that immediately creates this deep feeling of loneliness.
The One That Got Away
My dating life has at times been an emotional roller coaster. Because I’ve fully explained this in earlier blogs, I won’t go into the details. Basically I used to get very excited anytime I became interested in a girl and then really disappointed when the girl didn’t reciprocate my feelings.
Each time this happened, I would get frustrated with God. I would ask Him why He gave me a desire for marriage only to hold back the fulfillment of that desire. I would then ask why He would introduce me to a girl to me just to block that possibility a short time later.
To put it mildly, I didn’t trust very much in the truth that God has a plan for my life and that He knows better than I do.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 ESV
In the past when someone asked about my favorite verse, I would always answer with Romans 8:28. I would conveniently not mention that it was my favorite because I thought about it often and I wanted it to be true. Notice the fact that I didn’t say ‘know it to be true’.
I wasn’t totally sure that I believed in that verse because God never seemed to be making things work together for what I thought was good.
The Real Satisfaction
It took me a long time, but I eventually realized that the problem didn’t come from God’s faithfulness or steadfast love. The problem came from what I thought would satisfy my desire. God wasn’t trying to keep marriage from me; He was trying to get my attention on the real goodness that would truly satisfy me.
He was trying to put my attention on Him.
That may sound either overly religious or selfish on God’s part, but that truth has saved my heart from despair many times and that trend won’t stop anytime soon. God didn’t rush in and get me a girlfriend every time that I wanted one because He would’ve been filling the God-sized hole in my heart with a girl. At the very least, this would have been kind of unloving.
In the same way that it wouldn’t be loving to give a starving person a bunch of skittles or coffee. They would feel great for a little while, but they wouldn’t get any of the nourishment that they need and they would probably get sick. The same was true for me.
I thought that I wanted a wife because I was hurt, lonely, and longed for both intimacy and healing. I assumed that love from a wife would provide both of those. The truth is that a wife can only reflect the intimacy and healing that God wants to provide for me.
Meeting the Artist
I was hung up on finding a wife because I thought the love of a wife was powerful enough to heal my broken heart. What I didn’t realize is that my heart was made for intimacy with God, and that only His steadfast love was powerful enough to heal it. I don’t say that to sell women short.
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” – Proverbs 18:22
Women are definitely the coolest thing on earth and I’m still interested in finding a wife. However, none of them could give me what I need to fix my lonely and broken heart because my heart was made to be satisfied by God. Every woman I meet is going to be a fallen person just like me and two sinking ships can’t help each other stay afloat.
No one would suggest betting their lives on a flaky and untrained doctor and we shouldn’t treat our hearts any different. Even though women are wondrous creations, the Creator offers Himself to us. If you could choose between dinner with Picasso or spending a few hours staring at his paintings, which would you choose?
If I let one of God’s creations outshine Him, that’s disrespectful and unloving. Even while I cried out to God to give me a wife, He patiently steered my course so that I would have a deeper relationship with Him. He did that because He understands me much better than I do and knows that only His love can heal my broken heart.
The Answer That Matters
I still struggle with doubts about whether God is holding out on me or selling me short. That said, these doubts have drastically faded over the last year. The more I lean into God, the more of my heart that He satisfies and heals.
I still have plenty of wounds that need healing and I’ll never stop being a ‘work in progress’. Thankfully, God delights in me and enjoys walking this long road with me. I have slowly started to realize that He is always there for me, and that truth is infinitely stronger than any doubt that comes my way.
Image Copyright: Grant Kwokby