When We Can't or Don't See God's Hand
Jennifer SlatteryAuthor and speaker Jennifer Slattery has addressed women’s groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation and her love for seeing others embrace freedom in Christ is evident in each of her six contemporary novels and on her devotional blog, JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As Founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit with Jennifer on Facebook at JenSlatte.
- 2019 Jan 08
Have you ever poured out your heart, time, and resources to someone only to have them respond with ambivalence, perhaps even contempt? How long would your kindness last? At what point would you grow frustrated, or perhaps deeply wounded, throw your hands up, and walk away?
A few years ago, our family opened our home to a troubled teen. Initially, we knew very little about him, and we soon learned our original perceptions were false. His issues were far more extensive than we could’ve anticipated, including deep-seated anger and contempt that caused him to lie and manipulate. Our efforts and sacrificial acts of kindness were viewed with contempt.
Nothing we did or said penetrated his bitter, cynical heart. Instead of responding to our care, he rebelled against us, unfortunately, to his own harm. He chose self-destruction over life and hope.
For centuries, Judah responded to God in the same way. He’d nurtured and reared them, providing for all their needs, but they refused to see His hand. Oh, they enjoyed the blessings, much like the resentful teen had ours, but their hardened hearts remained untouched, and they drifted farther and farther from their loving Father.
God pleaded with them to return, to consider their ways and His care, but they refused:
“I reared children and brought them up,” God said, “but they have rebelled against Me. The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand.”
The NLT puts it this way: “My people don’t recognize my care for them.”
Were they too focused on the gifts God had given them or too entrenched in their sinful ways? Either way, they spurned the One who’d faithfully cared for them and slipped deeper and deeper into rebellion. God’s kindness, which is intended to draw mankind to Him, had no effect. Before long, and after repeated warnings, tough love followed.
I may never have turned to idols or perverted justice, but I can easily fail to see God’s hand. I can become so focused on the blessings, so expectant and entitled, that what was meant to draw me closer has the opposite effect and fuels my self-reliance instead.
I think that can be true of all of us. It’s easy to get so caught up in life, so accustomed to all our blessings, that we fail to see our Daddy’s heart behind them. That we fail to understand or recognize the extent of His care for us, and before long, greed and entitlement seep in, pulling us further and further from God.
Thus breaking our Father’s heart. But He issues the same pleas to us as He did to the Israelites so long ago: Lift up your eyes. Return to Me. Leave your self-reliant and apathetic ways and let My faithful care for you nourish, strengthen, and protect your heart.
God’s blessings abound, and His love radiates throughout the world. If we can’t see God’s hand, it’s not because He’s not reaching but because we’re not looking, or perhaps refusing to acknowledge the truth. If we’d but stop and turn our eyes and heart to our loving Father, we’d find ourselves deeply rooted in His embrace.
Let’s talk about this! How readily do you see God’s care? How often, in the middle of your day, perhaps even in the middle of the hard, do you stop to contemplate the love and faithfulness of your heavenly Father? When blessings come, do you focus more on the gift or your provider?
How might your relationship with God change if you consistently practiced the latter?
Share your thoughts and examples with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.
And make sure to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter to receive great content in your inbox along with updates regarding future studies and devotionals. You can sign up HERE.