Brene Brown has a tremendous question she recommends asking yourself when faced with challenges – “The story I am telling myself right now is…” I would like to steal that premise and change it to – “The story I am telling myself about God right now is…”
You may want to make this a journal exercise. I have found it extremely helpful for me to write these thoughts down. After writing down your answer along with how that makes you feel towards God, then run your answer through the following three questions:
Question #1: Is the story I am telling myself about God reflected in Jesus? (Scripture says that if you have seen Jesus then you have seen the Father)
Question #2: Is the story I am telling myself about God reflected in the promises I see in the Bible?
Question #3: Is the story I am telling myself about God reflected in past experiences I have had with God?
Let’s say that the story you are telling yourself about God is that he is cruel and cold towards your current situation. If you ran it through these three tests you would find the following:
Question #1: In the face of need and hurt, Jesus’ compassion was the defining characteristic and that is a reflection of the Father. Jesus was harsh with the Pharisees because they were hypocrites and put up barriers preventing God’s people from experiencing the fullness of God in favor of man made requirements. Yet, individually, Jesus showed kindness and attention to the Pharisee Nicodemus by answering his questions and the synagogue leader Jairus by healing his daughter.
Question #2: In scripture, we see a God who gives us strength; a God who forgives our sins; a God who never leaves us; a God who answers our prayers; a God who will make our path straight; a God who gives everything we need. This doesn’t sound like a cruel God to me.
Question #3: The God who has saved you and forgiven you and revealed himself to you in a thousand ways is the same God now. He hasn’t changed just because you are going through a difficult time. Why would he provide you with sweet moments of comfort and power in your past and then suddenly turn cold and cruel? Your situation may be difficult and even heartbreaking and you may have many questions but God is the same today as he has ever been. He has shown up in your past and will show up again. His ways are not our ways so we may have to be patient. We may have to surrender outcomes to him and we may have to let go of the ways we have tried to control him. Oftentimes, our world around us may be beaming with all of the good things of God yet we call him cruel because one aspect of our life is disappointing. How shallow and misguided we often are in our thoughts about God.
In this guided approach we have the freedom to be honest with God about what we are telling ourselves about him and to acknowledge how this makes us feel. Just this step alone will often reveal our shortsightedness and limited thinking. Then, when we apply the three questions, we are reminded that if we have seen Jesus we have seen the Father; that God’s promises are rich, present, and for our good; and that God has done miraculous things in our lives already and he will do it again despite our current situation.