There are things that happen to us that we can't – to a large degree – control. When such circumstances aren’t favorable, they make us feel helpless, as if outside forces are imposing their will on our lives. Other circumstances can be volitionally influenced by our initiative, direction, and participation. However, when such things don’t go according to our planned expectations, we’re left feeling hopeless.
Our relationship with God often suffers in these times of feeling helpless and hopeless. Why? Many of us view God’s love for us through the lens of our circumstances. In other words, we interpret His love through the filter of either what’s happening to us or how our plans have gone awry.
I know both of these conditions well. They are the default of my fallen heart. I don’t think I’m alone. As professing Christians, we’re emotionally tossed around almost daily – if not hourly – by what’s happening to us or by our frustrated plans. And because we know He’s ultimately in control of our lives and everything that happens to us, we turn to the right Source – but often come to a wrong conclusion: “You must not love me.”
How does the gospel speak to this? How can it help us? How can it change us? Allow me to share something with you that greatly assisted me. When I read it early this morning, it blew through my soul with a cleansing and warm wind that gave me an undeniable peace and joy. I hope and pray it does the same for you as you meditate upon it. May we all be changed as we’re more and more gripped by the gospel, refusing to allow difficult circumstances to deter our gaze from that one demonstrable act of love that speaks to every situation that enters our lives: the cross.
God came into the world and suffered and died on the cross in order to save us. It is the ultimate proof of his love for us. And when you suffer, you may be completely in the dark about the reason for your own suffering. It may seem as senseless to you as Jesus’s suffering seemed to the disciples. But the cross tells you what the reason isn’t. It can’t be that God doesn’t love you; it can’t be that he has no plan for you. It can’t be that he has abandoned you. Jesus was abandoned, and paid for our sins, so that God the Father would never abandon you. The cross proves that he loves you and understands what it means to suffer. It also demonstrates that God can be working in your life even when it seems like there is no rhyme or reason to what is happening. – Tim Keller, King's Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus (p. 207), emphasis mine