This post is part of a series outlining the hindrances we face when connecting with God. Read the entire series here.
The final hindrance in experiencing our relationship with God is, misbelief, our ignorance of who God is and what his purposes are. As Rick Warren so wisely writes in his popular book, The Purpose Driven Life,
“It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.”
Many people are disillusioned with their relationship with God because they have seen God as someone to help them reach their purposes for their life. When he doesn’t cooperate like they think he should, they lose faith, and sometimes lose hope.
One of the fundamental problems in our relationship with God is that we don’t know him as he is.
We have created a caricature of God—a grossly distorted picture of who he is and what he does. The source of our information about God is our feelings, or our experiences, and we become the defining rod of truth, not what God says about who he is.
This misunderstanding of God and how he works threw me into deep depression after a severe loss in my life. After my son, Ryan, was born, we knew that we’d be unable to have any more children. I always hoped and prayed that God would give us a second child through adoption. Through a miraculous set of circumstances, I became acquainted with a woman, Sue, who had a friend looking for an adoptive family for her unborn child.
Sue introduced my husband and I to her pregnant friend, and we all agreed that we would adopt her baby when it was born only two months away. The arrangements were made, the nursery decorated, and we eagerly waited for God’s precious gift to us. But when the time came, Sue’s friend never called us. Later, Sue was given the unpleasant task of telling us the bad news. This pregnant woman chose another couple to adopt her child without telling us. I was devastated. “How could God have allowed this to happen” I cried. He tricked me!” The pain I felt was beyond anything I had ever experienced. I felt horrified that this woman betrayed us. I grieved because I didn’t receive the baby my heart longed for. But I can honestly say that the deepest and greatest torture to my soul came because I believed that God was not good. I told myself that he deceived me; he stirred my longings and then—took them away. I thought that he enjoyed seeing me suffer.
I have since learned that God is not like I thought he was, but you would not have convinced me of that at the time. My view of God was distorted by my own feelings, wrong expectations and past experiences. God knew that and was always lovingly at work, even when I didn’t see him.
The Bible tells us who God is and explains him as best as he is going to be explained to our finite minds. Jesus showed us what God is like (Colossians 1:15). Much later, as I read God’s word and observed Jesus’ interactions with people, I saw that he never took pleasure in people’s pain or caused them meaningless suffering. I had to choose whose view of God I was going to rely on, my own or what Jesus’ showed me and God’s word told me. The psalmist says, “For with you is the fountain of life, in your light we see light” (Psalm 36:9).
Dr. J.I. Packer, a great teacher and theologian writes:
“Knowing about God is crucially important for the living of our lives…We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life, blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”
Learn all you can about the character and nature of who God is, because when your thoughts and feelings are contrary to what God says about who he is, you’ll have to decide who wins?