What has God done for you lately? If you're struggling with faith, maybe the question is, what has God ever done for you?
It's tough sometimes. We look at our lives, and they aren't what we think they should be. We look in the mirror and see a sinner staring back at us. We hold out our empty hands and wonder why they aren't more full. If this God we serve and love is so good, why aren't our lives...better? Why aren't we...better? If God is good, why aren't we...good?
The greatest challenge of having a perfect God is looking around and knowing how imperfect everything else still is. What are we supposed to do with that?
Isaiah has some wisdom here, and it comes in two parts. First, it comes in chapter 5 where the prophet acknowledges this reality. What he says is basically this, that God has done everything He can for us, but we're still sinners. It's not God's fault we're still sinners; we just are. He's done everything He can do to make us not be sinners, but we still sin.
If you're a parent, you understand this. You do everything you can do for your kids, but they still make mistakes. They still mess up. They still make bad choices. You can tell your toddler not to touch the hot stove, but he may still touch it anyway. You can tell your teen not to run with that particular crowd, but she might run with them anyway. You can tell your college kid not to drink and drive, but he may still get behind the wheel. You can tell your daughter that man will break her heart, but she might end up with his baby anyway. As a parent, you do everything you can to keep your kids from taking the hard road, but it seems most of them take it anyway.
Does that mean you aren't good? That you don't love them? That you didn't, in fact, know what was best for them? That you didn't desire what was best for them and will it for them? Of course not. Your aching heart is proof of your love. But your kids are still sinners.
Sorry. It's the truth.
But then we move on to Isaiah 6, just one chapter later, and we see the second bit of truth. Namely that sometimes, God does not redeem you until you've felt the full weight of your rebellion.
This, I think, is true even of wisdom God's already planted in your heart before you went astray. God doesn't necessarily have to come and pull you out of the pit for you to realize He was right all along. You get down deep enough in the muck with enough burden on your shoulders, and something inside of you just clicks. All of a sudden, you get it - you understand what you never thought was meaningful.
When that happens, you realize God loved you all along...and He still does.
Isn't that cool? Even when you're not listening to Him, God plants the seeds of His love in you so that in full season, you will know it. Without a doubt, you will know it.
We wonder how it is that a perfect God would let us still be sinners, would let our lives be such messes. How He could tolerate that...for us and for Him. But what we don't often realize, until we hit rock bottom, is that even in not saving us from ourselves, He is saving us to Him. He's planting the seeds that are starting to grow faith, the little hints of love that remind us who He really is...which we see most clearly in those times when we discover who we really are.
Loved by God anyway.
A God who always knew better, but waited patiently for us to find it. To find Him.