It is quite interesting how easily we can get off kilter in our lives just by measuring by the wrong standard. I copied these paragraphs from Larry Crabb in 1989 when I was wrestling with some ministry and life issues. The line about measuring love brought clarity to my thinking on two fronts.
So many Christians report they have trouble believing God really loves them. Others speak glowingly of Christ’s wonderful love, but with more emphasis in their voice than burning in their voice than burning in their soul. Why does God seem uncaring and so far removed from the struggles we endure?
Perhaps part of the problem is that we have definite plans fro achieving happiness, or at least for finding relief. Those plans are rooted in ways of thinking about life that are so inherently imbedded in our makeup that we never think to question them. We tend to measure someone’s love by their degree of cooperation with our plans. God’s refusal to help us pursue our goals (and his insistence that we yield our plans to His) makes Him seem unconcerned about our happiness. The heavens turn into a ceiling, above which our prayers never rise. Our mind invents an image of a God who sits unmoved by our pain and annoyed by our complaining. Our fervent pleas for Him to do what our view of rightness and compassion would require go unheeded. (Larry Crabb, Inside Out, p. 155).
I was judging God’s love for me wrongly. I was also being judged at the time by a few others as being unloving and uncaring because I didn’t do what they wanted me to do for them. Love is the self-sacrificial giving of oneself for the purpose of the highest good of the one loved. And that highest good might not always be what we want. God loved me enough to take me through some difficulties to teach me deeply about his faithfulness (a recurring theme in my life apparently) though it felt like being forgotten or unloved. And the members of my youth group felt I was unloving because I wouldn’t give them something that would lead to a harmful result in their lives.
I needed the reminder again this week. Failure to cooperate with my expectations and plans does not necessarily indicate a lack of love.