We love because he first loved us. – 1 John 4:19
That is a deep passage in scripture. Think about it for a minute… We love because He first loved us. We are only able to love ourselves and each other because God’s love shines down on us. Even when we don’t reciprocate that love, it’s there.
In the course I’ve been taking at church, the pastor showed us three basic principles that we experience through Christ. These principles are simple, yet completely profound in reality. True Freedom. Universal Need. Deep Comfort. It’s through these three principles that we are able to build trust in God. But, it is only when you know God loves you that the trust you have in Him grows.
This experience can be totally different for everyone and so today I want to share with you a few of the stories I heard during our “group time” at church. These stories really showed me how personal everyone’s experience with God is and how I can learn from them.
First, let me explain the group…there were five of us that day. We had a married couple with three kids, a married woman whose husband was home sick that day and then my husband and me. All of us married, but all in very different places in our lives.
The question was posed to the group, “In what ways has God proved Himself faithful to you, enhancing your trust in Him?” First of all, this question was very difficult for me to answer. Since when does God prove himself to anyone? It wasn’t until I heard everyone else’s stories that I was able to relate and to see where God has touched my life. To me, the trust was just there. I couldn’t pinpoint any one particular time or place where I could put my finger on God’s work in my life.
Then the first woman told her story. She is married with three children…Probably in her early to mid-forties. Her realization came at one of the hardest times in her life. She was pregnant with her twins and was feeling great. On May 7, she went to one of her regularly scheduled doctor appointments and was feeling great. From that day until the day her twins were born three months later in August, she was on bed rest and her twins were at risk of losing their lives. Now, she didn’t say what the issue was that her doctor discovered that day. She only said that God really stepped up to bat for her during those three months and she felt so completely secure in Him that she knew that God was watching out for her. The months were agonizingly difficult for her entire family (especially her husband who was left to take care of their two year old), but God made sure that her twins arrived safe and sound. “God knew how badly we wanted those babies and he was going to make sure we got them,” was how she explained it to me.
Next, we heard from her husband. It was such a revelation to me when he began to tell his story…It was not the same as his wife’s story. In fact, he didn’t even know Christ during that time in his life. His proof didn’t come until a few years later when he was laid off from his job. He spent eight months out of work and, in this economy, life was difficult to say the very least. But, he says he felt so peaceful when he was laid off that he can only attribute that peace to God. Eight long months of waiting and watching the job market, but he knew he had God right by his side. Now remember, he has three children and a wife at home. She had to work two jobs to make ends meet while her husband searched for work. But God provided for that family and they got through that troubled time together. The man put his faith in God and learned to trust Him.
Next came the woman whose husband was not present that particular evening. Let me tell you, this couple is such a fun couple that it is really difficult for me to ever imagine them going through a “rough patch” or having any sort of difficulties relating to each other or anyone else. But, when she told her story, it hit our table like a ton of bricks. Her proof came when her husband suffered a nervous breakdown. He went months under the veil of a deep depression and refused to seek help. One day, the wife finally talked her husband into letting her “just look” for a clinic that may be able to help him. The very first thing that popped up in Google that day was a Christian clinic just ten minutes from their home that accepted their insurance. Hallelujah! He got help very soon thereafter and is now, like I said, one of the happiest people I know.
These three people, at this small table, at this midsized church, sharing their stories of how they built their trust in God was a truly amazing experience for me. It struck me that our greatest tribulations are often God’s greatest opportunities to show how much He loves us and to “flex his muscle” and show just how much He can do for us. Some call it “coincidence” or “luck” but those of us who know God recognize it as something much more than luck. This is how God shows us that He loves us and once we know we are loved, our fears and insecurities seem to float away and we are able to put more of our trust in God.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – 1 John 4:18
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