Three little words…love and doubt

fontcandy (12)

Day 2 – Three little words…love and doubt

About 4 years ago I was sitting in my local women’s Bible study, when the study author alighted on the Scripture in which our theme verse for the week rests, Isaiah 43. It’s a beautiful passage. I’ll highlight Isaiah 43:1-4 for you below, but if you have your Bible available, grab it out and read through the chapter as a whole for yourself. Look for the descriptions of God and the descriptions He gives to us as His people.

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.

Go through again and highlight or underline the following phrases, even if only in your mind –

…he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel…

…for I have redeemed you…

…I have called you by name, you are mine… (v.1)

…I will be with you…

…the flames will not consume you… (v. 2)

…For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, you Savior… (v. 3)

Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life. (v.4)

And that’s only the first four verses, friends!

Isaiah is full of beautiful affection from our Lord to us. But the reason it captured my attention that day in Bible study so long ago, was those three little words…

I love you.

Read Isaiah 43:4 again and highlight those three little words in your Bible if you can. Write them down. Write them on your engagement tool if you have it. Write it on a post-it. Write it on your child’s backpack with a sharpie. Channel your inner fifth grader and write it on your hand with a blue ink pen. Write it and return to it.

When I first found this verse in Bible study, all I could think was

“Where has this verse been my whole life?”

and

“How do all women not know about this?”

God’s Bible is a love letter to us. Isaiah isn’t the only book of the Bible that talks about this love, of course not. It’s not even the only book that refers to His children as beloved – there’s Deuteronomy, Hosea, Jeremiah, Romans, Corinthians, the letters of John, and more.

However, this is the only place I have ever found in the Bible that directly says I love you.

Sometimes, sisters, we just need to hear it. We need to hear the three little words –

I love you

from God to us. Direct, obvious, to the point, no pussy-footing around.

The problem is that all the stuff of life gets in the way. Wars and health problems, finances and heartbreak, injustice across the globe and in our own churches and homes. With all of the pain and heartache swirling around us, it can be hard to see love poured out by the Savior of the Nations.

Let’s look at Hosea 2:16-23 for a moment.

“And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.

“And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord,
I will answer the heavens,
and they shall answer the earth,
 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil,

and they shall answer Jezreel,
    and I will sow her for myself in the land.
And I will have mercy on No Mercy,
and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’;
and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’”

Verse 18 above writes out a promise –

And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety…”

This verse assumes that we have been a people living outside of perfect. That we are a people in need of rescue from pain and struggle. It tells us that God sees, and He knows our doubt. Listen to verse 23 again.

And I will have mercy on No Mercy,
and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’;
and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’ (
Hosea 2:23)

Romans 9:25 references this exact verse, but with slightly different language –

As indeed he says in Hosea,

Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”

We are very much loved. God in Isaiah 43 tells us directly how much we are loved even when we wander away. It tells us that fire will come, waters will rage, life will be imperfect. God’s love doesn’t look like flowers and sunshine and roses of financial blessing pouring out of the sky. It doesn’t look easy or pain free. Instead, it looks like relationship. It looks like a God who loves us through Christ despite our frailness, despite our constant running off.

We are called beloved for one reason…because we are also called His.

His creation. His redemption. His.

“In His mercy,” Romans tells us, which assumes we need mercy. We need mercy for our own failings, for the failings of the world around us. God gives us that mercy and then some. He also gives us Love.

It’s so easy to doubt with the world looking suspiciously like it may cave in at any given time. Just be honest with Him. Jesus knows our every weakness, but proclaims His Word over us today and every day.

Rest in the mercy you find today in those three little words of Isaiah 43:4 –

I love you.

Doubt and all.

 

 

Exploration:

When have you struggled with doubting God’s love for you?

 

 

What things in the world are hardest for people to see God’s love through, especially when they do not know Jesus?

 

39 thoughts on “Three little words…love and doubt”

  1. Wow – I can’t help but ponder what the world would be like if televangelists preached on God’s love instead of earthly riches or healing from physical ailments.

    1. So true. Aren’t we all just longing to know we are loved and very much lovable? He says so. The Bible literally tells us so.

    2. I love that God calls me by name! How important our names are to us. I also love that God gives us His personal name to call Him, Yahweh (LORD).
      When times are tough, all we can do is cling to God and His promises. Even if our hearts feel abandoned and everything around us feels like it’s spinning out of control, it’s comforting to know that God never changes; He keeps his promises and He says I am precious in His eyes. He loved me so much that He sent His Son to redeem me and save me from certain, eternal death.
      How bleak it must be to not know Jesus and what He has done for us….all the more reason that I should tell others and share the Good News, friend to friend and sister to sister.

  2. I am participating in this Bible Study because I am going through a very dark time in my life.
    I know better, but every day I truly do doubt that God does love and care about me.
    My marriage of 19 years is over. My 82 year-old mom is battling cancer.
    My special needs daughter is struggling to make sense of everything and is abusive towards me.
    I feel completely abandoned.

    I don’t know how someone who doesn’t know our Lord and Savoir could handle the heartache.

    1. Such hard stuff. I admire you for turning to the Word in the dark time instead of away from it. I have done both, and it’s always better with Him. I have been there ranting at God. That is ok to do. Be angry, let Him know you are angry. He invites us to draw near and share, not be perfect and tuck it all away. I’m sure you are already doing this, but if you need permission, here it is. 🙂 He is at work. Keep leaning on Him, just as you are doing. Praise Him with the tears. He is listening. You are Loved!

      1. Just want to chime in and say I agree with Heidi. God can take it. Tell him how you feel. Praying for you!

    2. Prayers for peace, strength and wisdom for you during these dark days. I have had a good long season of dark days. Like you I don’t know how people get through it without Christ. Fortunately we don’t have to. You will again come to a place, where Joy will come in the morning. It may take you weeks or months but His love will draw you to him.

  3. Isaiah 43:1-4 was a favorite Bible passage when I was in college. I had just started going to church regularly, & keenly felt my unworthiness before God. I also felt unworthy among the group of college students in the church. These students were loving & welcoming, but I felt my sins were greater than theirs. Hanging on to these verses gave me assurance that God had chosen me, and in calling me “by name” (v. 1), He actually wanted me for His own! I struggled with doubt, but God was faithful to His Word (Romans 10:17-faith comes by hearing the Word).

    1. Comparing our sins never goes well. I think it’s so easy to do though. God loved us while we were sinning and He loves us forgiven. He can’t stand sin, but it doesn’t cause Him to love us less. Thank goodness for forgiveness, where we can meet with Him and draw near to Him.

  4. I sincerely doubted God’s love after my 2nd miscarriage in 6 months… I struggled a lot with the ‘why me?’ thoughts. I think the world’s view on loss is so tragic without knowing Jesus and to whom we belong. I cannot imagine going through what we did without knowing God’s love and promises for us.

    1. This seems so normal. It’s why we return to read the Truth in the Word again and again. I went through a season where I was livid with God. I felt like He was dumping on me. While this was obviously not true, at the time it felt so overwhelming. He opened my eyes to draw me closer to Him, so He could hold me and love on me when I needed it most. Lisa, I’m not sure how long it’s been since the miscarriages or where you’re at in all of it, but know that you are loved, by Him, and by your sisters in Christ! Thank you for sharing!

    2. Lisa, I don’t know where you live, but check on line to see if there is a M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neo-natal Death) chapter near you. I pray that you’re continuing to know and feel the LORD’s love and healing. If you find others who have experienced what you have experienced, you may find comfort and encouragement in each other as well. Perhaps one of the women you might meet there needs to meet and hear encouragement from you.

    3. Praying for you! It is so hard! We have suffered through a newborn death and a miscarriage. I, too, wondered how people who did not know Jesus could survive. Let me know if I can do anything to help. Praying for you!

  5. You’ve dug out the root of the cause of much of our distress and anxiety and exposed it to examination: doubt that God really loves us; doubt that we are lovable.

  6. After having my third baby I had postpartum depression. I didn’t recognize it for about 6 months and those were some of the hardest months of my life. I never once turned to God’s word in that time. It never even occurred to me. After talking to my dr and getting some medicine I see how dark that time was for me. I felt unloved by everyone but especially God.

    Those who don’t know Jesus or have turned away from him, struggle with the same things everyone struggles with. It’s awesome to know that God loves us.

    1. It’s why we need each other so desperately, why God created us for life together, not alone. We need people, we need other women to walk beside us and bring us the Word we can not do it ourselves. May God put someone in each of our path to walk alongside. He always uses this kind of stuff, the dark stuff of life, for His purposes. You are and will be a gift to someone else. Thank you for sharing!

    2. I also have struggled with depression, and I was just too overwhelmed by it along with all the other bad things happening at the time that I didn’t bother praying or reading God’s Word. I knew God loved me, and that I should pray and read, but depression is nasty and sucks the life right out of you. I’m thankful for friends who prayed for me while I couldn’t.

  7. Sometimes (well, most of the time) the love God has for me totally blows me away. How could He possibly love me when I am so unworthy? It makes me think of the song by David Crowder “How He Loves”. I love the bridge “We are His portion and he is our prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking”. I pray that I can drown in His grace and remember minute by minute that He loves me, and I pray that you all remember how much He loves you too.

  8. I feel extremely blessed in my ability to recall/remember in my 57 years thus far ever doubting God’s love for me! I pray that day, never comes!

    There are so many things that come to mind that would be hard for people to see God’s love through, especially if they do not know Jesus! Death of a loved one, terrorists acts (esp. 9/11) abortions, natural disasters, cancer, any on going illness, unemployment…

    BTW, I am truly enjoying this walk with you all!

    1. Great examples, Darlene! Very timely. I heard so many awesome testimonies this last week how God worked through the ugliness of 9/11. Thank goodness He will always use the tragedy for us to see Him more clearly.

  9. What beautiful words from Isaiah. These certainly filled my cup this morning when I was running on empty with my family and with myself. I think I feel most unloved when those around me are not loving. It isn’t completely logical, since I know in my head that God is love and always loves me. But it does point me to the reality of how crucial it is for us to show love to our families and to other loved ones in this life together.

    1. This is a really good reflection. We just were talking to college students last night about how we tend to think God looks like people in His response to us. I do think other people’s judgement weighs in heavy when we go to applying what God thinks of us. In studying the Word we stand in His truth instead.

  10. I have suffered with depression, numerous family deaths in a relatively short span of time, estrangement from family members. The same things that the unbeliever struggles with. Except I have the privilege of being loved by God. We must be careful to lavish God’s love and mercy to those who have not experienced it and not be judgmental (sometimes we may not realize we are being judgemental). Our goal is to walk along with others and love, listen and be merciful.

  11. I just read these verses last night after yesterday’s post. They have come to mean a lot to me. A special friend, whom I grew to love very much, walked away from our friendship just out of the blue about 8 years ago. Then I learned of his terminal illness a year later, and then his death in 2010. I was devastated! Yet, through it all, God was there to hold me, let me grieve and cry. He was my strength as those waters passed over me in that overwhelming time! During that dark time, He blessed me more than I could ever imagine-and gave me a special gift of friendship of the sister of this man that passed away! Ever since, I have this image in my mind of our sweet Jesus standing in front of me with His arms wide open, waiting for me to run into them!

    1. Jesus, He’s such faithful friend! And then gives us friends on this pilgrimage too. It’s cool when you get to see the longer term plan off broken friendship with a new friendship formed.

  12. I feel blessed like Darlene to not remember at least a time when I doubted that God loved me. I have however doubted that He knew what He was doing – I must confess. There have been times when the correct answer to a problem seemed so clear but it’s not the answer God gave me. Of course, you all know the ending of this story, God’s answer is always the best. What a tremendous blessing and source of peace to KNOW for a FACT that God loves me. All the time! Even when I am at my most unloveable. Thank you Lord for that!

  13. I have doubted God’s love for me when things are tough, but here’s one thing I struggle with. Since God knows all and therefore knew that humans would sin and fall away, why did He go ahead and create the world? Or why did He not just destroy the devil and his angels? Doing or not doing these things doesn’t seem very loving. But I know from Scripture that God is loving & His ways are higher than my small sinful human mind. It’s hard to trust completely. Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief! And use me to help others know you, even when they struggle with loss & death.

  14. One particular time that sticks out in my mind for doubting God’s love was when I was going through the divorce process with my 1st husband. My ex-husband was abusive. It wasn’t safe for me to be with him. He decided to try take “revenge” on me by taking his time with signing the divorce papers. I felt all alone during the year that it took for the divorce to be finalized. I had a hard time feeling God’s love during this time. There were times during that year when I wasn’t sure if I was feeling God at all. It was a dark year in my life, filled with depression, uncertainty and wondering “where did I go wrong?”. Although my life is much better right now, this devotion is just what I need to hear today.

    1. Glad to hear it was helpful, Nicole. God works through all the struggle. He honors it and sits with us even when He feels far away. Praise the Lord for walking out of that season!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *