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When Believers and the Gospel Collide

What happens when God asks you to rewrite what you know of Him? What happens when you 15489696064_2b48be23da_kare faced with circumstances so life changing, that everything you look upon as true, comes into question? We probably have all found ourselves at one point or another trying to reconcile our own paradigms of life along with our theology of God’s character. When God allows us to experience the most horrifying trials, we stand at a quandary between choosing either to trust a God who claims to be good and sovereign, or to lean on our own understanding.

I remember vividly the day my son Tyler passed away; we left the hospital after efforts to resuscitate him fell void. I felt numb, literally numb, all the way to my toes. I was barely breathing, in utter shock that–somehow–in the blink of an eye, my baby boy was gone. We returned home to get a few things and my walk through the house felt like an out-of-body experience. Just a few hours earlier, life as I knew it had been perfectly normal and ordinary. I quickly glanced across the room to the overstuffed chair where my Bible lay, and the words that came out of my mouth, I will never forget. Ashamedly, I uttered, “If only I would’ve been reading my Bible more, this wouldn’t have happened.” At the time, I was convinced that something I had either done or not done had somehow earned me this horrible lot in life. I blamed myself, that I wasn’t measuring up and that God was out to teach me a thing or two. I had been a believer since the age of 12, but here I stood in my living room, at the age of 30 and a pastor’s wife, questioning the very character of a God I claimed to know.

 

When God allows us to experience the most horrifying trials, we stand at a quandary between choosing either to trust a God who claims to be good and sovereign, or to lean on our own understanding.

 

As I searched the scriptures, desperately trying to make sense of and understand why all this was happening to me, I came face to face with God himself. In John 9, Jesus encounters a man born blind. When the disciples asked Jesus who had sinned, the man or his parents, Jesus answered them saying, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” We see clearly that God allows pain and trials, not necessarily as punishments or consequences, but to point others to Himself in the hope that ultimately God would be seen, known, and glorified. I resonate with the book of Job, as we see a righteous man experiencing more pain than anyone should endure, but even in the end, we see Job talking to the Lord, saying, “I had heard of you by the hearing of my ear, but now my eye sees you” (Job 42:5). Just like Job, we often simply hear many things about who God is, but after walking through the pain of hurt and loss, we don’t just know about Him, we know Him.

Tyler’s death shook every bit of those previous 18 years of walking with the Lord.  That day, the God I thought I knew became the God I HAD to know. What we know of Him matters most in the earth shattering, indispensable moments, and can either become the anchor we white knuckle, or the block that stumbles us. Everything honed in on one simple question I needed answered: “God, do you love me?” It really was all I needed to know; if He loved me, I could walk through anything, and I could trust Him even in all the uncertainty. I had spent many Bible studies learning of God’s love, sung many songs about His love, but I had yet to truly experience and embrace God’s unending, unconditional, unearned love. In the freshest of ways, my life as a believer and understanding the Gospel of Jesus collided.

 

What we know of Him matters most in the earth shattering, indispensable moments, and can either become the anchor we white knuckle, or the block that stumbles us.

 

Often times we experience and understand God’s love in its purest form when we are in such darkness that we have no alternative than to run to Him, cling to Him and beg Him to be near. Psalm 16 became my anthem I chose to believe: “The Lord is my chosen portion and that He holds my lot secure…He will not abandon me to the grave.” Nothing about Tyler’s death caught God off guard or was an accident. God remained and continues to remain on the throne, sovereign over all things, and nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from His love for us (Romans 8:38-39)!  In those days, weeks, and months after losing Tyler, God’s Word became even more vitally necessary as I spent time sifting through understanding and trying to make sense of why God had allowed such pain in my life. Psalm 119:92-93 says, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” I had reached a point of desperately needing the Lord to transform my way of thinking and to grow in trusting His goodness, even when my situation felt anything but good.

As I faced my worst nightmare of losing a child, I found myself simply basking in the truth of God’s love for me.  The truth that He would never leave me or forsake me, and the truth that He is FOR me, not against me. The translucent veil that I was convinced I was seeing clearly through was ripped off, and my sight of God’s character began to come into a more unclouded view. God’s Word became utter breath, life, and sustenance for me. God, in His precious grace, mercy, and patience with me, gently took my hand and began to rewrite my misconceptions of His character. He began to reshape and remold my mind according to His scripture and to press His Truths down deep into my soul. I knew many things about the Lord, my mind having knowledge of sound doctrine through many years of walking with Him; but something hadn’t fully registered until that sunny June day. My understanding of the gospel came alive through circumstances I would never wish on anyone. But in His loving kindness, I have come to understand and know the Lord in deeper ways than I ever thought possible, watching Him redeem my utter despair.

 

The truth is that He would never leave me or forsake me…He is FOR me, not against me.

 

Many times we are not privy to understanding why bad and hard things happen, but we can rest secure in Who has dominion over all things and loves us with the deepest love imaginable. God never wastes a motion; He is precise and purposeful, directing all things toward what is good and right. If losing Tyler was what God used for me to know His love more deeply and see Him more clearly, then I can accept that with gratefulness. And if losing Tyler allowed people to see Jesus for the first time, or caused them to trust Him more fully, then I rejoice that God’s glory could be seen through our loss.

As you reflect, what has shaped your understanding of God’s character? Have you truly experienced the Gospel, the good news of Jesus’ love for you?  What are some active steps you could take this week to truly know God more, and allow Him to know you?

“I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place” (Psalms 31:7-8).

 

 

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Image Credit: Asher Isbrucker, Creative Commons


Jen Rumley

About

Jen Rumley is a wife to a pastor hubby and a mom to three little boys on earth and one in Heaven. She is learning to break free of the shackles of insecurity and people pleasing, and grateful for a God who is patient in her struggles with pride and selfishness. She loves all things people, especially over coffee and good food, but cherishes her alone time that she sneaks in ever so often. She is a recovering control freak and is learning to embrace the thick dust that often lays piled up on furniture in her home, along with dried food smudges left by kiddos. If there were two things that she hopes her life would be marked by would be that she loved God and loved people well.


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