Religion

God’s love, unlike our feelings, doesn’t change

Ifelt very close to God when I gave my life to Jesus about a year ago, but now I don’t feel that way at all. In fact, I don’t feel much of anything. Has God given up on me? This really concerns me. — D.F.

No, God hasn’t given up on you — not at all. His love never changes, and He loves you just as much today as He did when you first gave your life to Jesus. As the Bible says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

Why has this happened to you? In my experience, this usually happens for two reasons. First, it happens because we rely on our feelings instead of on facts — the facts of what Christ has done for us. Feelings and emotions aren’t wrong; God gave them to us, and they are an important part of our lives. Feelings, however, come and go; we don’t always feel on top of the world.

But facts — unlike our feelings — don’t change, and we need to rely on them instead of our feelings. And the greatest fact of all is that Jesus Christ died for you, because He loves you and wants you to be with Him in heaven forever. The Bible says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).

The second reason God seems distant is because we neglect the spiritual “food” He has provided to strengthen us — the “food” of the Bible, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. Just as we’ll grow weak physically if we neglect to eat, so we’ll grow weak spiritually if we neglect these. Make them part of your life every day, for through them you’ll grow closer to Christ.

We went through some rough times in our marriage, and finally I just walked away from it. I thought divorce would be the easy way out, but believe me, it wasn’t. It’s really been hard — emotionally, financially, you name it. I guess God knew what He was doing when He told people to stay married. I wish I had, but now it’s too late. — K.McN.

Yes, God certainly did know what He was doing when He commanded us to take our marriage vows seriously, and not flee at the first sign of trouble. Jesus said, “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Mark 10:9).

Why does God take marriage so seriously? One reason is because He loves us and wants what is best for us — and He knows that casually walking away from our marriage is never best. Admittedly every marriage has its problems, but it’s far better to face them and work through them than to end up in divorce court. This isn’t always possible, I know, but I am convinced that with God’s help most marriages can be saved.

The alternative — as you’ve discovered — is often a bitter harvest of anger, loneliness, feelings of failure, financial strain, fear of the future, depression and so on — the list is almost endless. Perhaps your letter will encourage someone who is struggling in their marriage to stay with it, and in time find the joy that God intended for them to have.

You can’t change the past, but you can change the future — and the way to start is to turn to Christ and open your heart to Him. He wants to forgive the past, and He wants to guide your future. Begin again today by giving your life to Jesus Christ.

I truly believe God has forgiven me for the way I messed up my life, but frankly I’m beginning to wonder what difference it makes. Things aren’t any better now than they were before I turned to God. I thought God would take away my problems but He hasn’t. Am I doing something wrong? — J.D.

No, you aren’t necessarily doing anything wrong — not if you’re sincerely seeking to follow Christ in your daily life. God still loves you and wants to help you.

And don’t forget: Some things are different for you now! For example, your greatest problem has been solved: your need for God’s forgiveness. You also are a child of God now if you know Christ, and you should thank God every day for this great truth. Things are also different because you no longer must face your problems alone. Christ is with you.At the same time, God hasn’t necessarily promised to take away all our problems when we come to Christ. Sometimes those problems are of our own making, because of unwise decisions we made, for example, or because we disobeyed God. Sin has consequences, and although our sins may be forgiven, their consequences may still be with us. King David’s sin with Bathsheba was forgiven, but the son born of that illicit union still died (see 2 Samuel 11-12).

But God has promised to give us both the strength and the wisdom we need to deal with our problems. Have you committed your problems to God, and are you asking Him to help you every day?

I wish someone had warned me about how dangerous our words can be. My mother and I had harsh words over something she did about six months ago, and we haven’t spoken since. She’s stubborn and I know she’ll never apologize, but I still wish I’d just held my tongue. — Mrs. V.H.

Yes, words can be dangerous — so dangerous that they can change the whole direction of our lives. No wonder the Bible compares our tongue to a spark that sets a whole forest ablaze.

But the Bible also points out that words can be instruments of healing and peace.

The question you face is this: Will you let this situation go on indefinitely — or will you take steps to overcome it? In other words, will you let your tongue become an instrument of peace and healing, by seeking to overcome your mother’s hurts with words of kindness and love?

Begin by committing your tongue — and your whole life — to Jesus Christ. Then ask Him to help you reach out to your mother — not rehashing the past, but looking to the future.

The Rev. Billy Graham, whose column appears in Faith & Values every Saturday, can be contacted at “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or www.billygraham.org.

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