Jesus Cares Deeply About Your Pain
Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong.
I sang that song every week in Sunday school at the church I grew up in. Every Sunday we sang about Jesus’ love for us, and then we learned how to earn God’s love. At least, that’s how I remember it. I remember a feeling of guilt and being taught that in order for God to love me, I had to be a “good boy.” I stayed at this church until my freshman year of high school. While I have many positive memories about this church because it’s where I began my relationship with Jesus, I eventually left and walked away from church because I constantly worried that I couldn’t live up to God’s high standards.
I somehow missed the sermons about God’s grace. I already had a pretty heavy conscience and felt guilty about pretty much everything. I felt guilty for feeling good, and I felt guilty for feeling bad. It was an uncomfortable place to be. I always understood justice, I always understood the God of the Old Testament. Do something wrong? Punishment. Do something right? Reward. The problem with this was that I did way more wrong than I did right. I knew I would be punished.
I still struggle against this mindset. I sometimes act as though at the end of the day, I will present a scorecard to God. Column 1 will say, “Fail” and Column 2 will say, “Win!” As long as there are more checks in Column 2, more things I did right than wrong, I’ll get a gold star and a pat on the back from God. If Column 1 has more checks, watch out. Here comes a smiting!
I now understand how foolish that mindset is.
Because of the grace of Jesus Christ, I don’t have to worry about earning God’s love.
Not only do I not have to worry about it, I can never earn it. No matter how good I am, I can’t earn God’s love. The converse is true as well. No matter how bad I am, I can never make God stop loving me.
Every night my kids and I go through our bedtime ritual. I climb into bed next to them, one after another, and spend a little one-on-one time with them. Right before they go to sleep, after we’ve sung and prayed and talked about their days, I ask them four questions. It goes like this:
“How big do I love you?”
“And how long will I love you?”
“And what could make me stop?”
“Because you’re my daddy and nothing could make you stop.”
I’ve done this with them every night for as long as I can remember. When they were younger the responses were a little more enthusiastic, but we still do it every night. I was worried my oldest might be a little too cool for it, so one night I thought I’d skip it in case she didn’t have the heart to tell me she didn’t want to keep doing it. I kissed her goodnight and started to leave the room. She said, “Hey! You didn’t ask me the questions!” I haven’t skipped it since.
I started this because I never wanted my kids to wonder if their daddy loved them. When they are being disciplined or when they are far away and they start to wonder if I love them, I want the questions to come to mind. I never wanted them to doubt that I love them. I also wanted them to draw a connection between my imperfect love for them and God’s perfect love for them. God could have chosen any way to describe His relationship to us. Creator. King. Lord. Ruler. All of these fit, but it isn’t the way we are told to approach Him. Jesus tells us to call God, “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9).
God’s preferred title for Himself in relation to us is Father. When we enter into a relationship with Jesus, we are made His children. The Bible tells us,
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! – 1 John 3:1
God makes us His children, and He is our Father! When I started asking my kids our nightly questions, I wanted them to know that if their broken, imperfect, earthly father would always love them, no matter what, then their perfect, heavenly Father would love them even more! I didn’t want them to miss God’s grace like I did as a teen.
The Bible has often been called “God’s love letter” to His children, and that is an apt description. Too often we can approach this love letter as a textbook, or, even worse, as a rule book. We can turn to Scripture as a way to see what we should or shouldn’t do. There are clearly things God says we shouldn’t do. That’s called sin.
God wants us to put Him first and follow after Him with our whole hearts.
For our own good He’s shown us what things to avoid, things that are bad for us, things that will hurt us. He’s not trying to keep us from a good time; He’s giving us a way for a better life. Like a Good Father, He has placed boundaries in our lives. He’s told us what to do, and what we should not do. But when we read the Bible and miss why He’s given us these boundaries, we miss out on a huge picture of who God is.
Excerpted with permission from The Road to Freedom by Johnny Baker, copyright Johnny Baker.
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Do you know that God the Father loves you way beyond what you could possibly imagine? Or has your past, your sin, the ways you’ve wandered away and made messes made you believe that He’s just waiting for the chance to smite you? Today, receive His love! His biggest priority is you! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily