Tag Archives: Spiritual growth

God’s Patient Hand

A repost from May 7, 2015. Be encouraged – anew.

This morning, reading John 11, the following catches my attention:

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was” ~ vs. 5-6.

This passage has caught my eye before, but this morning, it stops me for a pondering moment. Jesus loved them, so He waited, postponing his response to their need. Why?

Two possible reasons come to mind immediately: so their need would reach a point beyond human intervention; and so their experience of God’s hand working to meet their need would be beyond imagination.

074I have long understood that we cannot truly comprehend the good end of a continuum until we understand its opposite. We cannot truly discern what love is without some experience of hate. We cannot know how great our God without experiencing our need for Him. We cannot discern how awesome God’s presence with us without some experience of life apart from Him.

God’s purpose is always to fulfill His good word. He does so in a way that reveals Himself to us, contrasting His personality, presence and power, from that of the natural. Moreover, He does so in a way that not only gives us life more abundant and full, but that births within us a sincere gratitude for all He gives to us. When He does finally take action on our behalf, He does so in ways that touch the lives of those around us, giving hope to them for His help in their life-circumstances.

In my life journey, I have discovered that God often waits while that mustard seed of faith in me sprouts and puts down deeper roots. (Faith requires something hoped for while yet unseen.) As a tree puts down deeper roots and gains a stronger hold into the earth during seasons when drought and high winds causes it to reach deep into the earth, so that which makes us reach deep into God strengthens our foundation of faith, increasing our commitment to believe in, trust in and rely upon Him.

So, Beloved, “let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint” (Galatians 6:9, AMP. See also 2 Corinthians 4:1; Romans 5:1-5).

Be careful not to give yourself to thinking God’s patience is a lack of care. He loves you! Therefore, He waits for the best time to produce the greatest results that reveal His love in unfathomable depths of glory.

Love vs. Trust

arms - hurting

Can love reside where trust is held in check? Some say, “No. If we love, there must be trust.” But what, then, when someone we love lets us down? Does love stop because trust is broken? I don’t believe it should. Love has blinders on, so as to overlook things that would sidetrack it, but love is not blind. I believe we see in Jesus a love that was boundless coupled with a trust that was guarded. Read John 2:23-25: ~ NASB.

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man”

And ~ AMP ~ “…But Jesus [for His part] did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all [men]; …He Himself knew what was in human nature. [He could read men’s hearts.]”

As I read the example of Christ, how He knew men’s hearts and the core of their nature (1), I have to ask myself, did Jesus Christ not love them, being cautious in His trust toward others?

I know that is not true, for Jesus was here to represent God’s interests and “God so loved the world that He gave” His Son on our behalf. Jesus had a choice as to whether to come: that is made clear in scripture. Up to the end, He could have called out for God to deliver Him, and He said there were Legions standing ready to do that if He chose it (Matthew 26:51-54; Philippians 2:1-11). But He loved the Father and He loved us, so He went to the cross on our behalf. Denying Himself, He took up His CROSS DAILY, to fulfill the will of the Father. He had blinders on for our sake, so that He would not be sidetracked from His purpose, but He was not blind. He was ever watchful against overly trusting the untrustworthy, and being thrown off course completely.

What was His daily cross? It was dealing with people He loved so and desired a relationship with, but He could not entrust Himself to them because He knew they were fickle of heart and given to sin, and the pain they caused Him if He trusted too much might make Him turn from His task. In order to take that final cross on that final day, He had to hold Himself back from the relationship He wanted so as175 to not be disappointed and, through that, led to choose to lay His cross down and leave us without a way to truth and life.

People hurt people. It is a fact of life. We may give ourselves fully to a relationship, but once hurt. and trust broken, it is hard to get that back. Love is usually still there, but trust is held in check, knowing from experience what is in the heart of the one who hurt us. This, too, is a fact of life in a fallen world of self-centered people who do not understand the love of God.

I think what I am learning as I consider this testimony concerning Christ is this: we are wise to not entrust ourselves to others in ways that chance the destruction of love. If we, like Jesus, realize the nature of mankind and that no one is perfect, we can then separate love from trust enough to continue to love and care for those who hurt us. Realizing no one is perfect, we are not crushed when someone we love fails us. Though the closeness of the relationship may be hindered or even destroyed because of lack of trustworthiness, it is possible to maintain a degree of relationship because of love that remains though trust is lost. Trust can be regained when love maintains relationship, but without love to stay the course, hurt remains, and trust is destroyed.

So focus must be on 1) love that does not throw the sins of those who hurt us in their faces at every turn, especially when they show themselves to be truly repentant—repentance involving proof over time that one can be trusted anew, thus bringing strength back to relationship; 2) love that gives grace to cover when fleshly insult comes by not being too easily offended; and 3) a love that realizes the weakness of flesh that can disappoint and chooses to have what relationship is available in the confines of trust.

There are people in my life who are difficult to deal with because they act and react out of some deep woundedness within their flesh that is not yet healed by God or some self-centered way that does not consider the interests of others as more important than their own. But I can’t fathom life without them because I love them. So I choose the relationship I can have with them, however guarded against insult I may have to be. There are others who have so deeply hurt me over and over again, and proven themselves untrustworthy to the point that, though I love them and want relationship with them, for my own sake and the sake of others I love, I have to step back from the destructive relationship so as to have strength for the relationships with those I can maintain.

Jesus knew better than to entrust Himself fully to man if He was to fulfill His purpose, because He knew the nature of man. We have the 425109_135478716573009_812090474_nmind of Christ in the indwelling Spirit of God. He warns us when we need to let love cover a multitude of sin for the sake of relationship, and when we need to step back and give our energy to those we can love wholeheartedly. But love, true love that is from the Father, never fails. We can love and accept love from others within the confines of their ability to love and be trustworthy, while awaiting the work of God to grow both of us in greater degrees of love and trustworthiness. Sounds like a plan to me.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality” ~ Romans 12:9-13.

Scriptures of Jesus’ knowledge of the nature of mankind: (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%201:24;%2015:8;Matthew%209:4;John%201:42-47;John%206:61-64;John%2013:11&version=NASB;AMP).