The subject line caught my attention. I opened the email to find a young woman pleading for advice. Lily* told me she became pregnant while engaged. The fear she felt seemed to seep through every word of her story. Why was she afraid? It seemed everyone around her was telling her the same message: God would never love her son because she had sex before marriage.
Does God love children who are conceived out of wedlock?
Even if you haven’t been in Lily’s situation, I bet you’ve asked a similar question. Will God withhold blessings from my ____________ (career, marriage, child, desires, life) because I screwed up?
Here are some common ways people fill in the blank above:
Am I still single because I had sex before marriage?
Did I not get the job because I didn’t pray about it?
Am I not pregnant because God is trying to teach me a lesson?
Am I dealing with this illness because of my sins?
Am I reading your mail? Don’t worry, I’ve asked similar questions myself.
I recently heard Andy Stanley say that in the midst of trials, “God is not absent. God is not apathetic. God is not angry.”
God is not absent.
Meaning, God hasn’t left you to fend for yourself while He takes care of someone who hasn’t made a mess of their life.
God is not apathetic.
Meaning, no matter what you’ve done, God isn’t standing far off rolling his eyes that you are back there again.
God is not angry.
Meaning, God’s not fuming over your failures—and throwing down punishment because of them.
Let that sink in for just a second.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a lot of your life thinking of God as a miserly bookkeeper. When we date the wrong guy, we don’t get the amazing husband. When we serve the homeless and pass up alcohol, God sends us spouses and new jobs and perfect parking spots.
But the Bible is pretty clear that God doesn’t treat us like we deserve, good or bad. In fact, it says He doesn’t act according to our character, but according to His—which means lying, stealing, cheating or getting pregnant out of wedlock don’t elicit anger from God. He is consistent, which means his love is constant and doesn’t let up regardless of what we do (or don’t do).
So God loves Lily’s baby just as much as any other baby. He loves you just as much as he does your sibling who seems to do everything right. He loves your friend who spent years dating the wrong guys just as much as he does those who waited for the right guy.
Our good Dad loves us, not because of what we do, but because of who He is. And He is love.
I think I will spend a lifetime trying to wrap my mind around how someone could love me like this. Because I am so aware of my many shortcomings and ways I’ve made a mess of my life. Aren’t we all? In the words of Jars of Clay, “It takes all I am to believe in the mercy that covers me.”
This can be one of the hardest concepts to wrap our mind around. What is your experience with feeling like God is absent, apathetic or angry?