The Promise of AdventTuesday, December 16, 2014
[This has been adapted from Paul Tripp's Christmas devotional, "Advent: The Whole Story." Download your free copy today at www.PaulTripp.com/Advent.]
Have you ever accused God of being absent? Have you ever criticized the Lord for being unloving? I would like to think that I've always trusted in God's omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience, and eternal, unshakeable love. After all, these are things I've been taught since my earliest days Sunday School!
But I'm deeply persuaded that many "theologically sound" Christians actually doubt the presence and love of God. Why do I think that? Because God says we do! Take Isaiah 59:1, for example:"Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear."
Let me give you the quick context of this verse. Israel is suffering big time, and whether they say it audibly with their mouths or grumble silently in their hearts, they have accused God of two things: first, being powerless in their time of need, and second, being unmoved by their cries for help.
You and I are much like the Israelites. When life isn't working out according to our plan, or when we're suffering in some way, it's very tempting for us to bring God into the court of our judgement and question his faithfulness, wisdom and love. That's what Israel was doing - they were questioning the character of God.
I wish I could write to you today and say that at all times, I trust in the sovereignty of God and the nature of his love. While I have experienced his power and love on many occasions, I have to be honest with you: when the comfort and ease of life is interrupted, I wrestle with who God actually claims to be. I know I'm not alone in my struggle.
There's a deep danger with this type of doubt: you no longer pursue someone you no longer trust. Think about it. Would you continue to invest in a company if you knew the CEO was corrupt and stealing from the investors? Would you continue to visit a fraudulent "doctor" who had faked his licenses? Would you continue to hire a babysitter convicted of repeated crimes?
You see, when you allow your heart to begin to question God's goodness, even in subtle ways, you’ll quit pursuing him. That’s exactly what happened with Israel - they thought that God wasn't strong enough to intervene (his hand is too short) and that he didn't love his children enough (his ear is dull to their cries) to rescue them from the difficulty.
What Israel didn't understand, however, was that the grace of God will visit in uncomfortable forms. Difficulty in your life is not a sign that God's hand is too short, nor is it a sign that his ears are too dull. Rather, it's a sign of his love. God will wrap his arms around you and bring you through difficulty to increase your faith and increase your love for him.
This Advent season, remember that the greatest expression of the love of God is found in the sending of his Son. You don't need to question His sovereignty and love when difficulty comes - just look at the baby in the manger! In fact, you should view difficulty as a sure sign of God's unending love for you!
Paul David Tripp
- What difficult circumstances are you facing right now?
- What does the Bible say about God's power? Find verses that dismiss arguments of "his hand is too short."
- What does the Bible say about God's compassion? Find verses that dismiss arguments of "his ear is too dull."
- How might your difficult circumstances be used to grow your faith and increase your love for God?
- How can you use the Advent season to remind yourself of God's love?