Why are we so quick to believe the bad things we hear and the criticism people speak toward us, but we just as quickly dismiss the good stuff?

Why is it easier to believe in a judging and condemning God than a merciful and generous one?

Why do we make this so hard on ourselves?

About six years ago I was sitting in a Bible study group dealing with personal finance and I broke down and cried to my friends about our debt, which, at the time, was definitely big enough to cry over. A man in the group told me that God was going to take my mess and make it my message. It was an interesting concept, I thought, but I couldn’t really accept that something good could come out of something so bad.

I spent the next five years asking God if that was true, did He really intend to do that and if so, how? I’ve spent the past year walking in the answer to those prayers. If God can redeem the monumental mess-ups of a inherently cranky red-head from Texas, He can do it for you too.

A couple of days ago I was in another Bible study with two of my favorite people on the planet. In talking about God’s goodness toward me, both of them essentially said the same thing: “Well, of course God’s going to do that … for you.

Uh, oh. Quiz time.

I asked my friends some variations on the following questions, and I ask them of you now.

Do you believe that God loves you as much as He loves everyone else?

Do you believe that God’s plans for you are inherently good and for your benefit?

Do you believe that God intends to lift whatever burdens are currently on your heart? To answer the prayers you are now lifting up to Him? To resolve each matter that concerns you?

These are important questions that can only be answered with one-on-one time with God. If you answered “no” to any of these, you have to tell God, in prayer, that you feel that way and you have to ask Him why.

It’s okay to ask God hard questions and say hard things. There’s nothing wrong with going out into a remote field and shouting at the top of your lungs, “WHERE ARE YOU? I CAN’T SEE YOU OR HEAR YOU OR FEEL YOU? WHY AM I HURTING SO BAD?”

You’re not the only one who wonders if God is listening, if He really blesses people and if He really has plans to bless you. And you’re not the only one who’s ever felt doubt creep in that God even exists at all.

But God will not answer questions that you don’t ask Him. He doesn’t answer prayers that you don’t pray. He won’t overwhelm you with His love if you don’t spread out your arms and ask for it.

Why? Because God does not barge in. We have free will. We can reject Him. We can close that door. In turn, if we want Him, we have to ask for Him, talk to Him and throw open the door.

It’s okay to tell God you’re having a hard time believe in Him right now, that you’re having a hard time believing that even if He is real, you’re not sure He really loves you.

If you think I’m nuts, consider this: He’s omnipotent and He knows how many hairs are on your head. So he already knows you think and feel that way. If He already knows, why not just say what needs to be said?

So go find your field and do some shouting. God doesn’t mind. He loves you so much that He went to a lot of trouble to create you just the way you are. He knows what your doubts, fears and concerns are, but He has chosen not to intervene unless we ask Him to, unless we invite Him in.

Here’s a prayer that may help get you started, but don’t be afraid to use your own words:

“Heavenly Father, I’m struggling. I don’t see You, hear You or feel You. Are You really there? Do You really love me? Because I’m just not sure right now. I need You to overwhelm me with Your love. I need confirmation that You hear my prayers. I need reassurance that You intend to heal the brokenness around me. I’m hurting and frustrated and tired. I’m doubtful. My faith is all dried up.

So I lay all of this at Your feet. Take these burdens, this pain and all of these circumstances and please give back to me something better. Thank You for loving me even when I doubt it. Thank You that it’s okay to pray cranky prayers. Thank You that You never get offended at me, even when I get mad at You.”

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

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