Do you love God because of what he gives you and promises to do for you? Would we still choose to love Jesus if he never blessed us with the desires of our heart? What about when we are faced with poor health, infertility, a broken marriage, financial debt, sorrow and heartache – could you still worship Jesus? Would you still worship Jesus? Would your heart still be given over to God? Or has your love for God become conditional on him meeting your needs and desires?
Let’s have the conversation
This topic of loving and praising God despite hardship, barrenness, breakdown or ill-health is a topic that needs to be talked about more, I believe. There is plenty of teaching out there on how God wants to prosper and bless us and show his favour to us and how God loves to give good gifts to his children.
These are true facts which can be supported with scriptures, however these prosperity and favour teachings can lead us to think that when everything is falling apart or extremely difficult that God is no longer in control, sovereign or good and loving towards us.
There is a tension we have to hold as Christians; that God is always good, and and that he allows hard things to come our way. I think we have softened the gospel message somewhere along the line to say that good things will come and that we are entitled to it.
The truth is that we have no rights in Jesus. Once we have laid down our lives and died with Christ, we died to our rights, we gave over our hopes, desires and plans for a greater desire—that he might be glorified in our lives and that he would use our lives to build his kingdom.
The good news is that we also get to partake in Jesus’ resurrection life, just as he rose again for God’s purposes we will also ‘arise and shine’ with his new life inside of us, which he will water like a seed and grow to maturity and fruitfulness in us for Him.
The story of Job has always amazed me, that one could endure so much physical and emotional pain and yet held onto God and stick to his convictions that God was the sovereign maker of heaven and earth. Yes, Job might have questioned God and his wisdom and ways, which we often do too. However, ultimately Job held on to God through his intense testing time.
Then look at Habakkuk, who chose to praise God despite circumstance; ‘Even though the fruit trees do not bear fruit, the crops fail, the cattle die, the fields are barren and the barns are empty, yet I still choose to rejoice in God (Habakkuk 3:17 paraphrased.) The stories of these people show us that we have a choice, to continue to love and rejoice in God despite circumstance.
The alternative is to become bitter at God and angry which produces no good thing. So I have come to realise that trusting God is my only good option, and I’m believing that he is ‘working all things together for those who he loves and are called according to his purpose.’ (Romans chapter 8 verse 28)
For better or worse
I wrote a song with these lyrics once: ‘We marry you God, in that deep place, where bone and marrow join’. In marriage our love cannot be conditional. I don’t love my husband Justin if he puts the bins out and tidies up the house; I love Justin because it’s a deep commitment that goes beyond our circumstances.
In fact, marriage vows include, ‘for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health’ and Justin and I have journeyed through such challenges together. I don’t throw my marriage in when it stops giving me what I want because I value the relationship with my husband more than anything.
I am also married to Jesus (Yeshua) and it is a relationship I cherish. When I gave my heart to Yeshua, he eternally joined our hearts and now nothing else satisfies my heart except him. Whether I like what he is unfolding in my life and whether he is answering my prayers is secondary to the fact that I have chosen to commit to God and I desire for my relationship with Yeshua to stand the tests and seasons of time including storms and deserts, as well as the joyful abundant times of breakthroughs.
Like Mary who chose to be with Jesus and just listen and sit at his feet, I too have ‘chosen what is better (Jesus) and it will not be taken away from me’ (Luke chapter 10 verse 39).
Our biggest command is to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength’ (Luke chapter 10 verse 27). So, I will endeavour to love God from a deep place of intimacy and covenant where my heart is His—come rain, storm or shine. No matter if there is no fruit on the vine, no matter if I am struggling with health, no matter if I don’t appear to be successful. Jesus is my source of life and I will remain in him and learn to love him unconditionally.
Liana is a 31- year old writer from South Australia. Her passions are song-writing, prayer and being amongst the beauty of nature. Liana and her husband have a vision of starting a Creative Arts ministry in Adelaide and are about to launch a coastal prayer and worship house in S.A.