Every year in December, I send out four Wednesday's Word emails for Advent. These devotionals have been excerpted from my sermon series, which are available with some other free Advent resources at www.PaulTripp.com/Advent.
Have you ever accused God of being too weak? Have you ever criticized the Lord for not loving you enough?
I would like to think that I've always trusted in God's omnipresence, omnipotence, omniscience and eternal, unshakeable love. But I'm deeply persuaded that we, who consider ourselves "theologically sound" Christians, actually doubt the power and love of God.
Why do I think that? Because God says we do! Read the words from Isaiah 59:1 - "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear."
Let me give you the quick context of this verse. Israel was suffering big time, and whether they said it audibly with their mouths or grumbled silently in their hearts, they accused God of two things: first, being powerless in their time of need - "his hand is too short" - and second, being unmoved by their cries for help - "his ear is dull to their cries."
I wish I could write to you today and say that at all times, I trust in the breadth of God's immeasurable sovereignty and the depth of his endless love. While I have experienced these things on many occasions, I have to be honest with you: when the comfort and ease of life is interrupted, I wrestle with who God actually claims to be. I know I'm not alone in my struggle.
You and I are much like the Israelites. When life isn't working out according to our plan, or when we're suffering in some way, it's very tempting for us to bring God into the court of our judgement and question his power, faithfulness, wisdom and love.
There were two things wrong with Israel's perspective, and two things we can correct in our own:
1. They forgot God's past acts of power and compassion. All they needed was a quick history lesson on their nation, and they would be reminded that God is all-powerful and abounding in steadfast love. How often do you revisit your history to remind yourself of God's previous displays of power and love?
2. They forgot that the love of God will visit in uncomfortable forms. Difficulty in your life is not a sign that God's hand is too short, nor is it a sign that his ears are too dull. No, God will bring you through difficulty to strengthen your faith and deepen your love for him! When was the last time you preached to yourself the theology of uncomfortable grace?
This Advent season, remind yourself that the greatest expression of the power and love of God is found in the sending of his Son. You don't need to question His sovereignty and love when difficulty comes - just look at the baby in the manger!
- How has God expressed his power and love in your life in the past? Think of three stories.
- What are you going through right now, and why is your heart "grumbling" (afraid, depressed, angry, etc)?
- How do God's previous acts of power and love combat your current grumbling?
- When was the last time you preached to yourself about the theology of uncomfortable grace?