Does He Love Me?
From Isaiah 33:14-16
Our town is having their Christmas parade today. I had full plans to go and looked forward to a fun morning with my daughter in the cold outdoors. We were going to sip hot chocolate and cuddle as the bands, the floats, and the happy faces of friends and neighbors passed us by.
But instead, we’re spending our Saturday here. She’s crying in her room, I’m crying in mine.
I’d taken away cartoons, toys, her pillow. I thought the time-out chair might be enough and she’d finally do what I asked, but no. As I caught her dawdling, again, I asked why she still wasn’t doing what I’d said. She just shrugged. I realized I had one more card to play. No, not the parade, I thought. I’ve looked forward to this for weeks! But the words came out anyway: “We’re not going.” And I shut her door.
Let me set this up by saying, I adore Christmastime — everything about it. All the community events go on my calendar as soon as they’re announced: the Christmas magic show at the library, the drive-through lights at the fairground, the annual parade through town. And because I don’t have my daughter every weekend, it’s especially exciting when an event falls during a time when we can experience it together.
But instead, she’s crying because I’ve taken her things, and I’m crying because I heard her say, “Mommy doesn’t love me.” Painful words when I know how much I do love her and want to do fun things with her, but too, how I somehow need to teach her to listen.
I wonder if God feels this way with me sometimes. If, when I lay in bed at night and cry or pound my fists against the steering wheel, He sits on His throne and thinks, No, not this. I didn’t want to take this away. But He loves me enough to discipline me anyway. I’m sure it breaks His heart when I ask, “Does He really love me?”
Verses like Isaiah 30:18 assure me that yes, yes He absolutely does: “The Lord longs to be gracious to you” (NIV). Other translations say He “waits to be gracious to you” (ESV) or “wants to show his mercy to you” (NCV). Show mercy how? Isaiah paints the picture a few chapters later:
Those who walk righteously and speak what is right … they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them. (33:15-16 NIV)
Security, provisions, safety, supplies. But don’t miss verse 15. These are not promised to just anyone; they are promised to the one who listens, to the one who lives according to His instructions for life.
In other words, He longs to take you to the parade — to do good things for you, to give good things to you, to experience good things with you. But even in the moments when He withholds those things, we can trust it is for our ultimate good (Hebrews 12:7-10), and nothing we do can take away His love (Romans 8:31-39).
Next week’s reading: Isaiah 40-49.