Why Can’t I Trust God’s Love?
For much of my life, I believed God’s sovereignty was defined by the simple and yet absolute idea of control. God is in control, that was how I described His sovereignty. Because of that belief, I unknowingly complicated His goodness.
God is in control, simple. And that’s where I put my faith.
God is good, true, but… well, it’s complicated. I just need to have more faith in His sovereign control, and more faith, and more faith and…
And every time I placed more faith in sovereign control, His goodness became more complicated.
My life, like yours, has had its share of sorrow, disappointment, and death; the evidence of living in this fallen broken world where sin has ravaged humanity.
For many years, even though I didn’t realize it, most of my experiences were processed though my faith in a God who was sovereignly in control. With each tragedy or disappointment, I determined to make my understanding of His sovereign control simpler and thus my faith became more complicated, fragile and brittle.
The harder I tried to trust that God was in control of my fallen circumstance, the harder it was to trust His goodness and experience intimacy with Him in the midst of the circumstance.
As the years passed, my life became increasingly marked by fear, anxiety, disappointment, realism, and such great insecurity. The more faith I placed in His sovereign control, the more His goodness became something to be experienced only after I reached heaven. Eventually, the scripture I most identified with was the first half of Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”
That portion of scripture said everything about my relationship with, and faith in, God.
What I was experiencing makes sense. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1) and my hope was fractured by the disparity of a God who was both absolutely in control and supposed to be always good.
Thankfully, God is truly and brilliantly, always good.
Over the many years of complicated faith, of trying harder, God faithfully led me time and again into His always-good love. He brought people convinced of His goodness into my life. He introduced books and messages that confirmed His goodness. And I pursued His goodness even though it was often in tension with what I believed about His sovereignty.
Looking back, the transformative moments in my life, the moments where God met me through the Bible, prayer, or people, were always about discovering just how good and trustworthy His love is.
Looking back, I am amazed to realize that God never once asked me to believe He was in control, but He continually invited me to trust that He was good.
If you look back over your life, my guess is, you will discover the same thing…
Then, one beautiful sunny afternoon, God asked a beautifully simple question. It went something like this.
“Jason, is your faith in sovereign control, or is your faith in My always-good love?
God is good but…
If our theology is grounded in the idea that our good God is in control, then why does He allow evil, suffering and bad things? If He is in control then what do I do with tragedy and disappointment? How do I trust Him if He is the one who has caused all the pain in the first place?
Is he really “a good God who wants control of our lives and will partner with evil to get it; a good God who will compromise our freedom by manipulating evil circumstances to gain our affections; a good God who will allow love to be distorted and perverted to capitalize on our needs; a good God who is an accessory to murder, starvation, sickness, and poverty so that we would know He loves us,”
The contradiction is of epic proportions.
The idea that God’s sovereignty has anything to do with control paints Him as a needy, bi-polar tyrant and positions humanity in the most hopeless and desperate of insecurities. The premise that God is in control manipulates His nature into something contrary to His always-good love and forces us into a “try harder” gospel.
It undermines our ability to trust and it complicates our faith: “I just need to have more faith, and more faith, and more faith… but it’s never enough.
A theology of sovereign control is like building your house on sand… the higher you go, the more unstable it becomes.
I would like to humbly suggest that God is either good or He is in control, but it can’t be both. And if we determine to make it both, we invite cracks into the very foundation of our faith.
One beautiful sunny afternoon many years ago God asked, “Jason, is your faith in sovereign control or in My always good love,” On that day I chose my simple.
God is love and His love is always good. Always…
Goodness is not a theory, or a concept; it’s an absolute, a greater revelation of Jesus. It’s a truth we can either believe fully or not at all. God is fully, completely good, all the time.
In embracing this truth, I have found the core value by which everything in my life is measured.
Life is about knowing His always-good love and then knowing more; it’s about becoming sure. The gospel is simple; He loves us!
On that beautiful sunny afternoon, I determined to put my faith in simply believing His love is always good. And that simple faith began to un-complicate everything else.
I believe God is daily asking us all this same question?
“Is our faith in sovereign control or in His sovereign, always-good love?”
I know many will want to choose both. I know this because I attempted it for much of my life. But if you attempt to choose both, the goodness of God will remain complicated and this complication will continue to undermine your faith. This complication will continue to position you in the desperation of insecurity. This complication will sabotage your confidence and subvert your hope. And most devastating, this complication will compromise your trust and undermine access to intimacy.
But what if you made His good love your simple? What if you put your faith there?
Maybe you would begin to grow surer in His affection, more confident in His love. Maybe your faith would become less complicated. Maybe you would discover a greater revelation of Jesus, Sovereign Love, the Tree of Life.
The second half of Proverbs 13:12 is “…But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” That’s the part of scripture we all long to identify with, the narrative we all yearn to live, the revelation by which we want to define our relationship with God. And Jesus revealed that it’s meant to be!
“…But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” That is the portion of scripture that I now choose to identify with. It says everything about my faith and relationship with God. I live in the ever-growing awareness of His measureless love; from desires fulfilled.
It’s Simple: God Is Good
I have decided that if I am unsure regarding something about God, it won’t be regarding His always-good love.
It’s simple: God is good. He is love and His love is perfect. Sovereign. And I have made it the compass by which I navigate life. My true north, my non-negotiable, my faith.
He. Is. Good.
And it’s my heart’s desire that we come to believe and know it so powerfully that the control narrative is changed; God is not defined by sovereign control; God is revealed through sovereign love…
This article is pulled from the pages of my book on the sovereignty of God’s love titled, God Is (Not) In Control, The Whole Story Is Better Than You Think.
Jason Clark is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.
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Wow..yes…exactly. This is where I am right now! Hope deferred makes the heart sick; that completely nails how I feel in this horrible season (that is dragging on & on I might add) of life. It truly does make you feel awful when you try & try & seemingly get no where. Thanks for helping me realize I’m not totally crazy, just perhaps I was “taught” wrong.
CS, thanks for sharing.
I am praying for continued revelation of our Father’s great love over you today! I am praying His measureless grace and that desire fulfilled becomes a way of thinking, dreaming, living and loving.
I spoke on Hope and proverbs 13:12 a few years ago, I have attached a link to the message here. Be encouraged today, you are His absolute favorite and He is pleased with you!