I’d heard the phrase “God is love” plenty of times, but I never really took it to heart. After all, “God is love” seemed to contradict the way in which some Christians had treated me and others. I was never good enough for them, never acted holy enough, and didn’t look the way a supposedly “good Christian” was supposed to look. I was a misfit. But I realize now that God specializes in the utilization of misfits.
It was the darkest time of my life, and I was tired of hearing about the love of God from friends and family members. I didn’t care who God was or what he had done for me. I wanted results—tangible results I could find hope in. And I blamed God for how I felt. Why couldn’t he take this pain away? Why couldn’t he help me? Why couldn’t he have kept me from experiencing the things that led me down this dark road?
Depression has a way of making you blind to everything true.
It’s a blockade that keeps you from feeling anything other than complete darkness. It’s something millions of people struggle with, and—sadly—suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States in 2013, and it’s the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of fifteen and thirty-four.[i]
I know not everyone in this world has dealt with depression or anxiety, but I’m 100-percent certain that you’ve felt broken, lonely, and hopeless at one time or another. Love and acceptance were nowhere to be found. You felt as though you weren’t good enough. God seemed absent.
Maybe right now you feel “just okay,” and that is actually the best you’ve felt in a very long time. Your brokenness traps you because of things that happened in your past. Things you wished had never taken place. Maybe they’re regrets or failures.
Or perhaps you’ve yet to let go and find peace amid the violent storm of your worst memories—the ones you’ve tried to lock up in your closet. The ones you don’t like people knowing about. You’re hurting. You’re frustrated. You’re in repetitious, unwavering pain. You ask yourself,
Does God even care?
I’ve asked that question. I’ve been in that place far too many times.
The beautiful reality is that God does care about you.
And he cares about me. God loves us. He feels your pain. He feels my pain. And while he sometimes responds to us in a way that might not be exactly how we anticipate, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t heard our cries. He cares—deeply—about our pain and yearning for hope. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself that. Oh, the sorrow I could have avoided! But then again, I believe God works everything out for a reason.
I’m reminded of a passage in the Bible that illustrates so beautifully the uncertainty of our hearts:
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! – 1 Corinthians 13:12, msg
Though we sometimes wonder what is happening in our lives, and though we cannot see clearly what lies ahead or know which direction to take, we have this hope: God promises that he will clear the storms and give us direction. He sees us, and he will bring us out of the haze we find ourselves in.
Over the course of my life, I’ve found myself furious at God on multiple occasions. Why? Because I’m human. I’ve yelled at God, cursed at God, and even threatened God because he wasn’t providing what I felt was the best response for my current situation. As if my feeble and frail threats had any impact on his decisions. You and I are but specks compared to his majesty and greatness.
I’m sure he looked at me patiently, waiting for me to finish my rant, and knew that I didn’t really mean what I was saying. I was just upset, broken, and frustrated beyond belief. He knew I wasn’t yet accepting the love he had for me. I was too blind to see it. But in God’s grace and patience, he allowed me to vent to him. He allowed me to use him as a punching bag. That’s an aspect of the beauty of God—he’s big enough to handle anything I throw at him but wise enough to not give me everything I ask for. A loving Father at his finest.
You might think God is unfair for not giving you all you desire, but in reality it’s quite the opposite. It’s not God’s job to live up to our personal expectations. God’s will is not dependent on our wants. He does what he knows is in our best interest and for his glory. Our job is to trust him through the process, no matter how hard it might be.
That’s easier said than done, I know. But when you learn to truly let go of yourself and instead grab hold of what God has laid out for you, life will begin to make a lot more sense. A sense of purpose and identity will come over you, increasing your yearning to pursue him that much more. God’s love is available to all of us, no matter where we’re from, what we look like, or what we’ve done. God’s love is for anyone who calls upon him for life and hope.
When you put your life in God’s hands, you must trust him fully, even when you don’t understand what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, and for how long. Some things have only one answer: trust God even when it doesn’t make sense. Trusting God in the midst of your brokenness is a beautifully painful but spiritually deepening experience. Every time you put your trust in God, another scoop of your self-obsession is removed and replaced with the righteousness of God.
You must trust God with your brokenness but realize it’s okay to be mad at him, frustrated, and even downright confused. He can handle it. God doesn’t expect you to understand everything he does. You can question what’s happening. You can wave your fist a little. You don’t have to act as if you have it all together. God can handle it. He wants you to let it all out and be honest with him about what you’re really feeling.
When you give God the room he deserves, your soul finds supernatural refreshment and peace in his presence. After all, we were created for the partnership of God. We were created to do life hand in hand with the one who created us in his image. God’s love is in the business of rescuing those who feel as though they’re suffocating, though he often acts in ways we don’t expect. But it’s still love, and we desperately need it.
Excerpted from Love is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World by Jarrid Wilson
[i] “Suicide: Facts at a Glance,” Centers for Disease Control, 2015, accessed February 24, 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-datasheet-a.pdf.