Article Oct 20, 2017

Why God's unchanging commitment to us matters

Many of us know what it’s like to question God’s love. This needs no explaining. There are times when it is natural for humans to question God when his love doesn’t feel the way we expect it to; we often find ourselves asking if God is even paying attention.

God’s love manifests itself in an innumerable amount of ways to his people. Paul, describing love through the Spirit, says,

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away (1 Cor.13:4-8).

The last verse here provides an anchor for understanding God’s love in such a way that we may never reject God in our bitterness again. “Love never ends.”

There is perhaps no other truth about God’s character that, when put on trial in our heart’s court, can stand the “love-test”again and again. The profound and incalculably valuable reality that God is committed to his people may be the most liberating and encouraging detail about the love of God in Scripture.

This is not to say that any other part of God’s character is “less than,” or less reliable, or that God’s commitment to us is more unchanging than, say, his mercy or compassion. But when we survey the emotional and spiritual ups and downs of our walk with Christ, and when we look at the redemption story, from Genesis to Revelation, one thing is absolutely certain: God is for his people.This cannot be questioned (Rom. 8:31).

God is for his people. This cannot be questioned.

Over and over again in the Old Testament accounts of the Israelites’ journeys in and out of captivity, through deserts, wandering about and fighting brutal wars, one thing remains true throughout the narrative: God is committed to his chosen people. Along the way, they moan, complain, cry out, turn away, worship other gods, forget the Lord’s faithfulness, ignore his commands, forget his promises, and crumble beneath their fear of failure.

Again and again, God responds with messages like these in Isaiah: “In that day the Lord will extend his hand a second time to recover the remnant of Israel . . . . For the Lord will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel”(Isa. 11:11; 14:11, emphasis added). The Israelites repeatedly question God’s love, intentions, and methodology, but when we look back over these texts, one thing stands out: in the midst of their questioning, and in the midst of God’s perceived absence, his assurance to the people is, “I am committed.”

Fast forward to Gethsemane. A well-known scene where Jesus bows in a garden to pray to the Father in heaven. His prayer is short but fervent: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done”(Luke 22:42). Jesus, even until death, aligned his will with the will of the Father, the same will that led God to say to a broken “remnant” of Israel, “I will again choose you.” Jesus’s ministry was a daily re-commitment, both to the will of the Father, and to the salvation of his people. This is a game-changing revelation about the heart of God for his children.

There is a metaphor for God’s commitment to us found in marriage: When the sparks of love fade and couples forget what love is, lost in the shuffle of life and in the messiness of relationship, commitment holds them together. We cannot always expect to see love clearly for everything that it is. Whether with one another, or when wrestling with God’s presence, true love is never made more clear than when one says to the other, “I will see this through.” God uses Paul in Philippians 1:6, reminding us that, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Endurance not only means trusting God today, but also remembering his promises from yesterday.

There is a story of redemption and salvation woven into your life as a follower of Jesus that cannot be erased by any sin, anxiety, fear, or brokenness because of God’s steadfast commitment to you, and to his plan to make you like Jesus. God’s Word is his answer to you in prayer even when you do not hear his voice. Believe God’s promises, and believe God’s words to Israel as if they are being spoken into your current situation. Cry out to God, and as you wait for an answer, preach over and over until your heart believes: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”(Psa. 73:25-26).

He is committed, above all else, to the redemption of your soul and to the restoration of your heart as he prepares you, his bride, for glory.