Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. — Romans 8:5-6
It’s hard when you’re a little girl desperate to be a treasured daughter but your dad makes it abundantly clear he never wanted a daughter.
I remember the prayers I would lift up when the darkness of night made my heart hammer in my chest. Tucked underneath my Holly Hobby blanket I would whisper over and over, “God, don’t let my daddy leave me. Just don’t let him leave me.” Because if he did leave, who would I be? A girl without a daddy felt to me like a girl without a place in this world. After all, if he couldn’t love me, who would ever love me?
I also remember the day my dad finally did stop coming home. The last bit of what held together my security and my identity splintered as he packed his things without so much as looking at me. I pressed my face against the front window and watched his car fade into a blur. Then he was gone.
Rejection settled deep into my heart. And I came to one earth-shattering conclusion: I don’t matter. I am worth nothing to my dad. And even more disturbing: I fear I am worth nothing to God. The sum of my feelings became my new identity.
Who is Lysa? The unwanted one.
The years that followed only served to reinforce the hurt and questions residing in my heart. Based on my experiences with my dad not wanting me, I wondered what my heavenly Father’s attitude was toward me. After all, how could God just stand by and allow so much heartbreak into one little girl’s world? It seemed every three years starting the year my dad left, there was some kind of awful tragedy that cast lingering, dark shadows into my life. Abuse. Abandonment. Mental illness. The death of my sister. The cycle just kept going and going.
Even after I’d been a Christian for a long time and knew God loved me, I still had this nagging question about why the hard stuff had to be so painful.
Was God really being good to me in this?
I think C. S. Lewis said it best: “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”1 And it’s at this point someone at Bible study whips out Romans 8:28:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
I like that verse. And I think it helps shed some light on the reality that even if something doesn’t feel good, God can still work good from it.
But verses 5 and 6 from this same chapter (Romans 8:5-6) give me another layer of assurance:
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
What doesn’t feel good in my flesh won’t make sense in my flesh. But if I have the Holy Spirit in me, my spirit is different because God is there — His indwelling presence with me. He speaks reassurances in the spirit. He speaks comfort in the spirit. He reminds me He is right there with me in the spirit. Others might disappoint me and leave me… but God never will. Therefore, I have to keep my mind focused on what the Holy Spirit whispers, not what my flesh screams. And in my spirit I know God is good to me.
Dear Lord, thank You for Your goodness to me. When I am in pain, please help me remember Your past faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
- “C. S. Lewis Quotes, Quotable Quotes,” Good Reads, accessed February 22, 2016, http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/615-we-are-not-necessarily-doubting-that-god-will-do-the.
Excerpted with permission from Embraced: 100 Devotions To Know God Is Holding You Close by Lysa TerKeurst, copyright Lysa TerKeurst.
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Rejection can do a number on our hearts, can’t it? Whether it be rejection from a parent or a friend, a spouse’s infidelity or a child’s rebellion… our broken hearts can be lied to that because we aren’t valued and treasured by that person as we should be that God doesn’t love us either. And maybe He won’t be good to us. I love Lysa’s testimony that the Lord Himself will speak reassurances to our hearts that not only is He good, but His plans and His future (Jeremiah 29:11) for us are good, too. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you about the faithfulness of God even when others fail us or bail on us. ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full