I’m honored to participate in our pastor’s current sermon series, “Beating the Blues” as a guest writer. Here is the second of three installments:
She emailed me out of the blue…I had not seen or heard from her once in the three years since we left. But she emailed and told me some difficult news and shared her struggles and questioned God in it. She was tithing and giving extra offerings and fasting and praying, yet He wasn’t changing her circumstances and she couldn’t figure out why.
She was doing everything “right” and God wasn’t responding.
I couldn’t type my reply fast enough and there was smoke coming from the keys as I responded to her. I didn’t want any time to go by that would allow her to continue to think untrue and warped thoughts about her Abba Father. The words came easily and I said to her,
“Tithing is wonderful, and offerings are amazing and fasting shows God how serious you are. But you can never do those things out of a hope to get something from God in return. If that’s the motive of your heart in doing them, you might as well not do it at all. God only cares about your motive in doing it — He doesn’t need it. Give tithes because He asks us to and it’s obedience. Give offerings out of a desire to help others beyond what your tithe can do. Fast to show Him you really want to hear from Him…not to get…never to get. Your obedience to Him will always supersede your sacrifice. Every time. (<= click to tweet this)
I know you feel disappointed and desperate and need a change in your circumstances. And more importantly, GOD knows that. But He seems to be asking you to follow and trust anyway…even with the possibility that nothing might ever change. Would you still follow Him if nothing ever changed? That’s the root of everything He’s trying to get through to you. He loves you regardless of everything you’ve done in the past or will do in the future. He loves you regardless of a job or no job. He loves you regardless of whether you tithe, offer, pray or fast. HE JUST LOVES YOU BECAUSE HE IS LOVE. He can’t help but love you. He just wants to know — and moreso, wants you to know — that you would follow Him into poverty if that’s what He asked of you. That’s all.”
And God used my own words to speak and preach to me, as much as I was trying to encourage her. Because it’s so easy to praise Him when everything is great, isn’t it? And when He isn’t fitting into our perfectly outfitted, unbelieving box…well, then we just get mad and shake our fists at a Most Holy God and threaten Him with “just wait and see if I continue to follow you after this!”
We’ve all been where psalmist was in Psalm 42, that place where tears are our food day and night and people say to us all day long, “where is your God?” We’ve all been in the place where we say to Him, “why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?” and that place where our bones suffer mortal agony and our foes taunt us saying all day long, “where is your God?”
Those places are hard. Those places are dry. Those places are where we tithe and offer and fast and pray in hopes of getting out of it. And God…watching from above with tears in His eyes because He is so close to the brokenhearted says,
“Remember these things as you pour out your soul…how you used to come to My house under My protection with shouts of praise and joy among the festive throng. Remember these things from the land of Jordan and the heights of Hermon, as deep calls to deep and my waves and breakers swept over you. Remember how I direct my love at night with My song in you, a prayer to Me of your life. Remember ME. Don’t love me to get. Love me because I first loved you.”
My friend replied to me with a simple and pure, yet profound realization,
“The answer is still yes…a simple but truthful yes…because I do love Him and I do trust Him even knowing I will never understand Him.”
His ways are higher, His thoughts are higher, and if we can conceive it, then that can’t be it. Yet we love Him anyway. Because He first loved us. Because He is love.
“Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God — soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” (Psalm 42:11, The Message)