Love God in your suffering.

Stay with me now. Your heart is the greatest treasure you have. Without a heart it’s impossible to love, or receive love. Without a heart you can’t possibly dream, hope, laugh, find courage. Without a heart you will never be happy. Your enemy knows this, knows he can use your suffering to both shut your heart down and turn you against God, if only subtly, in doubtful hurt. Listen to me carefully: You must not let him. You must guard your heart with everything you’ve got, especially in times of disappointment and pain. Your secret weapon against the enemy’s hatred is to love God right then and there, in the midst of the sorrow, whatever it may be.

I recognize that the act of loving God often surfaces other things in our hearts, things that are currently in the way of our loving him. We might feel half-hearted in the act, and then we realize we feel hurt or distant from God, or that he feels distant from us. This is good; this allows us to bring to the surface and put words to things that are blocking the relationship. Naming those things is important. I will at this point either begin to write about it in my journal or simply say to Jesus, “I feel hurt about ...” Then I will pray, “Come into this hurt, this feeling of abandonment, this numbness,” or whatever seems to be thwarting our intimacy. “I love you here, God. I choose right here, in this, to love you.”
Try it; you’ll see.

When I’m feeling more disappointment than I am overflowing with reasons to love God, I turn to the things I know he has done on my behalf. “Thank you for creation,” I’ll say, because I love the world he’s made, and I can at least start there—the meadows, waterfalls, caribou, dolphins.

“Thank you for creation.” I continue, “Thank you for redemption”—for I know he loves me because of Jesus Christ: “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8 NLT). “Thank you for my redemption.” And I will add, “Thank you for the coming kingdom,” because it reminds me that my dreams will come true, any day now; goodness is coming to me. So when I’m trying to bring my heart along into the genuine act of loving God, I will pray, “Thank you for creation; thank you for redemption; thank you for the coming Kingdom.” My soul comes along as I do this, and I remember that I do in fact love God, whatever my current heartache may be.

This rescue helps your heart not pull away from the One Person who can heal you; it fortresses your heart against the lies of the enemy that rush in during heartbreak (God doesn’t love you; he’s not good; you are alone; life is unfair—all that). Actively choosing to love God in our pain allows us to receive the very grace the pain cries out for

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