Last week, I was doing a seminar about some of the central themes of my book. We were discussing suffering, God’s sovereignty, and His emotional response to the suffering of His people. One of the main things I tried to emphasize was that pain is the common denominator of humanity; because we live in a broken world, the question isn’t “if” in terms of pain and suffering; the question is what happens next. We got finished with the seminar and the folks started to disperse, but one young woman held back.
She explained to me that she works in an urban area mostly with young girls who have experienced some sort of trauma in their lives. One, for example, just had the anniversary of the death of her sister in a gang shoot out. Another was a victim of sexual abuse. Most of the rest had at least a sense of abandonment since their mother, father, or both are absent.
She resonated with my premise that pain is one of the things that links us together in our humanity. She lives it every day, even if the young women she works with don’t realize it. But she did ask for my perspective on what is a deceptively simple question:
“How do these girls know that God loves them?”
That’s when it gets real, isn’t it? I mean, I know that my wife loves me. I know that my kids love me (most of the time). And I know that my parents love me. How?
Part of it is because of their words. They tell me the love me. But it’s more than that. I know – really know – they love me because they show me.
It’s interesting, then, that when Paul reflected on the love of God, he used some very specific language: “For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:6-8).
See it? God proves. He demonstrates. He backs up His claim. He closes the case. He settles the issue. He leaves no doubt.
How do we know God loves us? We know He loves us because of the cross. That’s how we know. It sounds so simple, but if you find yourself in a situation when you question the love of God because of your circumstances, think of the cross.
Think of Jesus, over and over again. The Father did not spare the Son, but gave Him up for you. And for me. Because He loves us.