We certainly have come to trust him. In simple faith, we have plunged ourselves beneath Calvary’s cleansing flood. We have looked away from our works and trusted Jesus alone. We have tasted and seen that he is sweet and his promises true. We have journals full of stories that prove his faithfulness over and over. We believe in his goodness, truthfulness, promises, love. We trust him.
But at times we waver. We wonder if God really hears our prayers. In the morning, we drowse at his word. Suffering tempts us to become suspicious of his governance. Unanswered prayer makes us unsure of his care. Chronic pain makes us skeptical whether he is really with us in time of need. We are tempted, as Lot’s wife, to look back.
And this distrust comes upon us subtly, rarely introducing itself properly. We start to sleep in a little more, pray a little less, and schedule fewer times of fellowship with believers. We get lost in our schedules and scroll through our lives to quiet the still, small voice, “Come back to me.” We know we have strayed. We know, ultimately, that God has done nothing to merit distrust. We sing, “Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, Oh for grace to trust you more.”
But what are we trusting? Of the litany of things that we trust God for, I believe the hardest to believe day to day — not in the sense of answering on a quiz, but in the sense of felt experience — is God’s love for us in Christ. On days when the flesh attempts mutiny, when I feel cold towards the consuming fire of heaven, when I see the pain I put in the eyes of a loved one, I even struggle to like myself — why wouldn’t God?
God says he loves me; I struggle to believe — emotionally — that he likes me. With Moses, I and too many saints live (and die) outside of this Promised Land, never truly enjoying the milk and honey that is theirs just beyond the Jordan. While it is the simplest lyric to sing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” it is the hardest to trust.
Satan makes sure of this. While he delights to convince the merely polite church-attender, the worshiper of foreign gods, and the secular humanitarian that God unconditionally loves them, he seeks to steal this heavenly bread from the mouths of his true children. He doesn’t want us to sing from our souls that his steadfast love is better than life (Psalm 63:3). He delights to see Christians with heads bowed in shame, mumbling to themselves as they struggle with sin, “He loves me; he loves me not.” He desires to make sons and daughters practical orphans.
He tried this with Jesus. No sooner had the words washed over him at his baptism, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22), Satan tempted him in the wilderness twice concerning his sonship, “If you are the Son of God . . .” (Luke 4:3, 9). So he strategizes against us today,
God pours out his love into our hearts through his Spirit; Satan tries to dam the life-giving floods through lies about our circumstances.
But God’s love stands beyond our circumstances as far as the stars stand beyond the anthill.
God’s love is beyond comprehension (Ephesians 3:17–19). It spans from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 103:11–18). Because of the cross, it does not deflate due to sin (Psalm 103:10). God will stop loving his people only when the moons overthrow their Maker’s command, or when the sun can depart from the course he has set for it, or when the heavens can be measured, or the molten core of the earth explored. Then — and only then — will he cast out his people from before him (Jeremiah 31:35–37).
Doubt affects experience but not reality. If we are truly in Christ, our fluctuating experience, our muttering sentiments of unworthiness, are no match for the evidence he has provided for us: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
God wrote in permanent marker at Calvary. There, he crucified all reason to distrust him. There, from sin and self we cease. There, from Jesus we simply take, joy and life and rest and peace.
Oh, for grace to trust him more.