“For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine . . . and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 This week’s assault on Facebook is 2 Timothy 4:3-4, with assorted memes and photos (one is a shot of the verse, in situ, […]
Last month I regaled you with tales of my two hours in the Dentist Chair (God, the Dentist), and how we find spiritual lessons in the oddest places.
This month found me in that chair again, for only an hour and three-quarters, and lest you think that I am a Twinkie fiend or something, I am paying for the sins and indiscretions of my youth.
(Twenty-some ago, when most of my fillings — which now need to be replaced — were put in, I had a tendency to be 1) pregnant, 2) craving graham crackers with peanut butter and chocolate chips, and 3) not too good about flossing.
I’m a fairly unexciting person, you know, and even my youthful indiscretions are boring.)
This time in the chair, I spent less time thinking deep thoughts as I did wondering when it would all be done so that I could use the bathroom. Afterwards, however, I meditated on my numbed condition: although people assured me that I was drool-free and they could indeed, understand my speech, I felt my lack of feeling.
“Remember, the bottom left of your mouth is numb, so don’t chew it up,” the helpful assistant reminded.
There’s a reason they tell you that, because although you honestly can’t feel anything, this doesn’t mitigate the damage teeth can do on soft tissue. This is one case of many when how you feel, or don’t feel as the case may be, is not an accurate representation of reality.
So it is with God. It is a part of our human experience that we frequently we don’t feel that He is there. More frequently, it is when we need Him most that we feel Him the least.
Has He abandoned us?
We Are Not Orphans
No. Never. But it’s time for faith: operating on what we know, as opposed to what we feel, and what we know is this:
He will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31: 8) For many of us, this is one of the few verses we can quote by heart, along with “Jesus wept,” and even if we can’t cite the actual verse location, its very assertiveness gives us confidence.
You’ll find variations of this promise in Hebrews 13: 5 (“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you”), Joshua 1: 9 (“Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”), and Matthew 28: 20 (“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”).
Old Testament, New Testament — over and over again God promises that He is with us, now, and will never leave us, ever. His words are true, and sometimes, they are all that we have to go on, because circumstances look rough, and feelings are non-existent.
What We Know, not What We Feel
But if we don’t know the words, we can’t be comforted by them, which is one reason why it’s a good reason to pull out your Bible and read it — not because God will punish you if you don’t, but because He made a point of writing about Himself and supplying us with that publication.
In Exodus 34: 6-7, God allows Moses to glimpse His glory, and as He walks past, He says,
“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”
When I was younger I thought about this verse, “What a vain thing to say. Why is God bragging on Himself?”
As a wiser person I realize, no, He’s not bragging about Himself, He’s telling us about Himself, and what He’s telling us is that He’s compassionate, loving, and faithful. This is information that we don’t intrinsically know, and without this intellectual assurance, our feelings will mislead us into thinking that He’s forgotten us, because we don’t see Him, hear Him, taste Him, smell Him.
But we have His words, and His words are true.
Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity, where I write about living real life, as a real Christian, in the 21st century. Unless you’re a church rat, you’ll notice that most of your life is spent living at your home, workplace, and general societal locations as opposed to the pew, which is why I encourage Christians to think for themselves, talk to God throughout the day, and focus on the strength of their individual relationship to Him.
He doesn’t give points for Bible study attendance or small group participation, preferring, instead, to walk closely with us and guide us through each moment of the day.
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