Our three-year-old grand-daughter Piper is a fount of illustrative material, so when our daughter called the other day with another “Piper-ism” I wasn’t surprised. Evidently, they’d had sort of a tough day. Piper looked at her mother—hand on hip—and said, “Mommy, I love you, but sometimes it’s hard.”
Seriously? How can you not chuckle at that declaration? I’m guessing her mommy might have felt the same about Piper on the day Piper got into the black sharpie (pic at left) and wrote all over herself, the floor, the wall—and her baby brother.
Is there someone in your life to whom you could say, “I love you, but sometimes it’s hard”? Perhaps if we’re honest, any long-term, intimate relationship has both of those elements—love and hardship. Even our relationship with God…
When God is Silent
One of the hardest seasons to endure—spiritually—is when God seems silent. Have you been there? Maybe you’re in an especially difficult situation, and you’ve prayed for relief, but nothing is changing. Or you read the Bible, and nothing makes sense. Why does everyone else seem to get great revelations from Scripture, but it sounds like Greek to you?
You’re not alone in your frustration. One of my favorite Bible heroes went through similar seasons of silence with the LORD. There were many times in David’s life—before and after he became Israel’s king—that he couldn’t “hear” God. He wrote about them in several Psalms.
“O God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God.” Psalm 83:1
“To you, Lord, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit.” Psalm 28:1
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” Psalm 22:1-2
Did David’s Psalm 22 sound familiar—at least that first question? Some believe it was this psalm that Jesus began quoting on the cross when he felt the wrath of God poured out. But Psalm 22 ends in victory—as did the Cross when Jesus conquered sin and death through His Resurrection!
It’s good for us to remember that even when we feel like God is silent, He is very present–and the victory has already been won. Keep listening. Keep walking. Keep trusting.
When God Won’t Explain
Have you ever been absolutely sure God led you in a certain direction or decision—and then it was disastrous when you obeyed? That’s what happened to Moses when he returned to Egypt to deliver the Israelites, but instead of letting the people go, Pharaoh made the slaves gather their own straw for bricks.
“Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.’” Exodus 5:22-23
God isn’t in the habit of explaining, while He’s in the process of doing. He much prefers to grow faith and cultivate intimacy while we’re in the process of waiting. When the Israelites were trapped by mountains on both sides and the Red Sea at their backs–perhaps a year later–it was the same Moses who proclaimed confidently to the Israelites:
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-14
Had God explained HOW He would deliver them at this point in the story? Nope. But by now, Moses’s relationship with Yahweh had grown enough to trust His words and His ways.
Love and Trust
I’ve only raised two children, but I’ve noticed something that seems to hold true across the board between kids and parents, husbands and wives, friends-to-friends—and even followers of Jesus Christ.
Love only grows when trust grows with it.
Before children go to school, parents are their whole world. They implicitly trust our words, our rules, and our protection. When they go to school, however, they realize that there’s a great big world out there with different words, different rules, and exciting dangers that we’re somehow trying to deny them. We spend the next twenty years (or more) in the arduous process of regaining their trust. We aren’t trying to ruin their fun or their lives. We do want them to be happy—and healthy. Eventually they realize they can trust us again, and their love (and respect) soars to new heights.
We could write similar patterns for marriage relationships and friendships because love and trust are forged through hardship and joy, misperception and forgiveness, and reconciliation over time. Healthy relationships progress best when love and trust grow in equal measure.
The same is true of our relationship with Jesus. As we learn to trust Him more—over time and through joy and sorrow—we’ll come to love Him more as well. I don’t think he minds a bit when we say, “I love you Lord, but sometimes it’s hard.” In fact, He’s probably thinking the same thing about us!
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Psalm 144:8
- God isn’t in the habit of explaining, while He’s in the process of doing.
- God much prefers to grow faith and cultivate intimacy during our process of waiting.
- As we trust Him more, over time and through joy and sorrow, we love Him more as well.
- Which is harder for you—to love God or trust God—and why?