I once spent part of an April night freezing in an unheated hotel room. Outside, the hotel was newly painted, but had a rickety look about it. It sagged in places hotels ought not to sag. I was glad I was on the lower level.
I told myself the heat was off for the season to save money. It wasn’t that I didn’t fiddle around with the thermostat. There was a plastic cover over the dial, and tape around its edges which I didn’t want to break into. I could have complained, but I had just traveled three hundred miles listening to some sermon tapes about “speaking no evil.” Meanwhile, I was cold and fuming. Several hours into the cold, I took one more look at the thermostat. Only then did I notice what I would have found out very quickly, if I had asked. A dial, somewhat hidden, was accessible all the time.
As the room warmed, I asked myself what other assumptions I’d been making . . . About people, about possibilities, about family, about life. Where else had I confused a thought or an assumption with reality? Assumptions can color our world with misinformation. Assumptions about God can crash into our lives, leaving us feeling forgotten, lost and afraid.
Adam Hamilton points out in his book, “Why, Making Sense of God’s Will,” that if we’re assuming our Christian faith will protect us from loss, heartache and hardship, we will one day be very disappointed in God. I think it is our generation which made a leap in Christian thought to get to that point. People of earlier generations looked to God for strength in the hard times. Nothing in their lives, indicated that if they were just good people, misfortune would not come to their door. Women were dying in childbirth. Minor infections turned deadly. Too many children were resting in cemeteries lost to diphtheria, small pox and pneumonia for any false assumptions about Christians being immune to suffering.
God’s promise then, as now, is to be with us . . . To walk with us in all the places we journey. God promises to be with us in our deepest hurts, our greatest heartaches, our most gut wrenching losses. If you’re tying to make sense of God’s will today, know you are loved by God. Your outward circumstances are not the determination of the measure of God’s love. The cross stands for all time as a reminder that you are loved with a limitless love.
The Apostle Paul, who suffered much, wrote these words out of his own personal experience, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37-38
A version of this post was first published April 15, 2015