Day #4

John 16:33

My father was six-foot-two-inches-tall man with a big, deep voice who, when I misbehaved, would glower a bit, then simply boom out my name. According to my mom, I’d burst into tears, run toward him, and throw my arms around his knees, sobbing. He would melt. I later wrote a poem about it: 


My brothers would run away

Bold and defiant

But I knew much better 

How to handle the giant

We don’t have to appease God in the same way. He doesn’t need convincing to be merciful and gracious. But a similarity lies in the fact that I knew Dad to have a soft heart under the authoritarian manner. Do we similarly know the heart of God? Does our attunement to His true character push us toward Him when we feel like running the other way? If not, we may be looking at the wrong source of evidence.

God never tells us to base our assessment of His character on the fortunes or misfortunes of this random, chaotic world. If we do this, our sense of God’s approval will wax and wane with our fortunes. Reasoning from the false premise that the events of life constitute evidence of God’s approval or disapproval, we come to a false conclusion.

God never said things would go well on earth. In fact, He promised they wouldn’t. He said we would have tribulation. But then He said, “Be of good cheer! I have overcome the world.” How did He overcome? By conquering sin fully on the Cross. God presents the Cross as the primary source of evidence of His love for us. On the Cross we see that there is nothing He wouldn’t do to bring us into His circle. Keeping this in view, we can push through to the heart of God. 

Imagine yourself walking toward God as He towers over you. Lightning flashes, thunder rolls. Angels gather around singing holy, holy, holy. You cower, but you walk forward anyway. He reaches down and you see scars in His hands, knowing He died for you. He takes you joyfully into His warm, safe arms. 

Pray with me. Dear Heavenly Father, Life is hard. But You, oh, Lord, are good. We see the evidence of that goodness first and foremost in the fact that You were willing to give Your life on the Cross. Through that we have unfailing, irrefutable evidence that You love us, deeply, personally, and completely. Thank You, Lord for that Gift. 

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

For mental health counseling, coaching, and other resources, you can visit abide.network.

88 thoughts on “Day #4

  1. MARI-CARMEN GALLEGO

    My father was the same, he just had to say my name in a certain tone to bring me to attention. I sometimes reacted like your brothers, bold and defiant. Later I got to know our Heavenly Father and his character of love and mercy, no need to run away from Him. Thank you for this beautiful meditation!

    Reply
  2. Katrina

    Hello Everyone!
    Hallelujah! The Cross and God’s love! My heart and soul rejoice! Jesus has bridged the gap!!!
    “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”! Hallelujah!
    Last night the song was going through my mind as I was going to sleep! It was a very peaceful experience! I’m so encouraged! Thank you Jennifer and Neville!

    Reply
  3. Rachel

    Good morning all!

    The thing that really stood out to me this time was that we shouldn’t base our assessment of God’s character off of the mis/fortunes of this world. I really connected with that. It reminded me of a couple songs, Trust in You (Lauren Daigle) and I Know (Bid Daddy Weave).

    In the chorus of Trust in You, it talks about trusting God even when He isn’t doing what we hoped He would.

    In I Know, especially this one, it talks about how God is good, always good. “You don’t keep my heart from breaking, but when it does, You weep with me.” Jesus cries with us, just like he did with Mary and Martha at Lazarus’ grave.

    I’m so thankful I can ground myself on the truth that God is always good and with me through the really crappy times of life.

    Reply
  4. Cheryl

    I have a false picture of God’s character and His love for me. I have associated distorted human love with my concept of His divine character of love. I have misconstrued examples of Him and His love based on my lack of love towards Him, myself and others.

    I keep basing the evidence that I don’t know Jesus and His love and forgiveness and that He doesn’t dwell in me or I in Him, because I lack love and forgiveness for myself and others.
    I want to receive His free gift of love and forgiveness. I want my view of Him to change. I want to know Him as a loving, caring God. I have a mental accent but not an experiential knowing of Jesus and His love for me.

    I really do need everyone’s prayers for my eyes, ears, mind and heart to be opened to Him.

    Thank you in advance for your prayers. I’m grateful for these Jesus meditations. I pray they are a blessing to everyone who hears them.

    Reply
  5. Lisa Reynoso

    My father died when I was 10, so my mother was the big authority in my life. Her perspective of me was very performance based. I know she loved me, but when I failed, she was very critical and distant, and I think it somehow skewed my view of God. But I know He is not like that, and in my teen years I did my best to latch onto Him as my Father, because I didn’t have an earthly one. And it did make a huge difference in my life.

    Reply
  6. Belinda

    God as a father has been a concept that was difficult to accept for a period in my life. Abuse in a church context when I was a child and my fathers seeming inaction made me fearful of being abandoned by God when I needed him most and propelled me towards self-sufficiency at the expense of any close relationships. In recent years I have started to reimagine my picture of God based on what he says in the bible about who he is and what kind of father he is. It is a continuing journey to accept what I know to be true- that God loves me and I am his child. Todays scripture song was beautiful!

    Reply
  7. Ann

    My dad has always been kind, thoughtful, and hardworking. He protected me and my siblings as children. He loved to go places like camping, roller/ice skating, sledding and road trips. He would give the first one of us to see a robin in the spring a dime (it was a long time ago!). Now, he is very old and has trouble seeing and walking. I love him dearly and am the strong one now. My dad isn’t perfect like my Father in heaven is, but I knew he was there for me always. This helps me get a glimpse of God. How much He must have loved us to make the ultimate sacrifice! I liked that Jenn had us imagine Him. I see Him as strong, tall, gentle, and kind — smiling at me.

    Reply
  8. Bonnie

    This was very calming and hopeful. Life can feel so overwhelming but God is bigger than any of our problems. I was reminded that though He may not take them away, I can remain joyful in His love as He helps me through them.

    Reply
  9. Shirley Mann

    I am the oldest of 9 children. I know my father loved each of us very much. It showed. I can remember one time when he slapped me because he thought that I was not showing respect to my mother by what I said. I had not intended any disrespect. This is the only time I can remember that he ever physically disciplined me. He really was a great father to have!

    Reply
  10. Alex

    As long as I can remember, I have believed God to be a loving father. However, as for many of us this year, things happened beyond my control that began to pick away at this belief. I started to wonder if God really desired good things for me, and whether He was really present and as loving as I had always thought. Thank you for this meditation – it reminded me that the picture that trials create is not that of our God at all. He is a good, good father.

    Reply
  11. Kristina

    We can see God’s heart of love at the Cross. So wonderful to meditate on this fact and that Christ overcame the world so we can have peace and joy through it all.

    Reply
  12. Valerie

    Most of my life I knew who God was as my Lord. For some reason I could relate to that more. I knew He was my Father, but it truly took on a whole new meaning some years ago. I understood then how full and deep this love is, and it’s between me and God. I love how there are so many depths to God, and as we grow in the knowledge of His identity and how He loves us, we grow in our identity too.

    Reply
  13. Sarah

    For most of my life, I have known God as my Father. My own father is a very quiet man, but he deeply loves my mother, my sister, and me, and he is always there to provide, care for, and support us in his quiet way. I think this really helped me believe that even when it seems that God is silent, He’s still there regardless of how things appear. The only time I struggled in my life with my picture of Him as my Father was several years ago when I lived in a situation with some people who were abusive and constantly distorting the truth about God through their words and actions. For a few years I struggled with confusion about God’s character and whether He really loved and accepted me, but as I have left that behind and sorted through the lies and faulty theology, He has brought me back to my childhood understanding and used the terrible experience to teach me even more about His faithful love despite what others tell us.

    Reply
    1. Sarah

      And I love the picture of running to God as our Father. It is my prayer that I will always do this, especially when others distort and misrepresent Him.

      Reply
  14. Sabrina Petersen

    I’ve struggled with my view of God because of my own perfectionistic tendencies and high expectations of myself. It’s taken me a long time to realize on a heart level that I don’t have to earn His love and acceptance. And I think I’m still on that journey; sometimes it takes so long for these truths to reach the heart!

    Reply
  15. Sharon

    Another somewhat difficult one for me. Although my family was Christian, at least in name, I was raised on the wrong side of determinism. My first unpardonable sin was not being a boy, and it was all downhill from there. I don’t know how many times I was told I was going to hell for whatever reason. Combine this with the fact that everyone at church liked to tell me how blessed I was to have such a loving family, and how I was fearfully and wonderfully made, and I was left with a God who created me for the sole purpose of burning in hell. And then to compare God to a father! He was like my father, all right, but nothing like what the Bible claimed He is. Many people tried to tell me about how benevolent God was, and explain how God’s sovereignty and free will work, but in the next breath they’d tell me how nice my family was. Now I had a God who valued their free will over my soul, and wasn’t powerful enough to save me. The only thing that kept my despair from ending in suicide was a taunting voice in my head claiming that I would fail just as I had at everything else, and that would just make everything worse by adding more fuel to the fire. (Honestly. I have no idea if it was God sounding like Satan, or if God allowed Satan in my head because He knew I’d run.) Desperate to end the confusion in my heart and mind, I kept searching, and God eventually led me to the 2 volumes of Tozer’s The Attributes of God. Reading those 2 books, I finally encountered a self-existent God with infinitely perfect love, mercy, justice, grace, holiness, goodness, wisdom, knowledge, power, faithfulness, and sovereignty. A God who could keep His word, save me, heal me, restore me, and make all things new. A God I’m still trying to wrap my mind around as He tears down and uproots the lies of my childhood.

    Reply
    1. Erin D

      I’m sorry you were treated so terribly and felt so alone. I’m so thankful to God He made a way to speak into your heart His true character!

      Reply
    2. Steve

      How I can relate, Sharon, just that my unpardonable sin was not being a girl. Thank God He led you to “Attributes of God”, and thank YOU for bringing the book to my (and our) attention.

      Reply
  16. Vanessa

    Getting older, I have uncovered and explored the deep nuances that make up my family, and God has truly stepped into my full view to say, “Hey, I’m your Father.” It’s been His consistent character, care, love, and friendship that has kept me afloat.

    Reply
  17. Simone

    God’s love surpasses all damage, he put that in my heart today for a person that neglected all my needs as a child.It was her birthday and I only wanted to bless. Forgive them for they know not what they do.

    Reply
  18. Onieka

    I had a conversation with my niece Tonight and she shared that she’s mad with God because He hasn’t answered her prayers about her mom becoming a Christian. She says the walk is too hard and she doesn’t see a need in prayer. She’s 7 and I wish she would understand that regardless God is still faithful. These meditations have been hitting home. And I’ll get accustomed to breathing properly. Sometimes I forget.

    Reply
    1. Erin D

      Awe, prayers for your little niece and her young faith! May God show Himself to be the faithful God He is to her! So sweet she is so passionate over her mother’s faith as well.

      Reply
  19. Amy

    Life is hard, but God is good. I can see through out my life how God has been a loving father to me. At the same time I continue to struggle with the warped picture of God I acquired through years of legalistic church culture. It was imbedded in my childhood and keeps popping up. I long to be confident in God’s love without the continual second guessing.

    Reply
  20. Jane

    I was very blessed to have a loving, accepting earthly father, but strangely enough, that didn’t translate into seeing my heavenly father as loving. My picture of God was skewed for other reasons in regard to His love for me, but I praise God for the continual steps of change that He has brought into my life, showing greater truth about His character. Prayers are always appreciated that we all will see His love more clearly each morning. (Ps. 143:8)

    Reply
  21. Nowelle

    My father has helped me to see God as a loving father. He told me daily that he was proud of me and loved me. Oh, and his hugs! I can feel it just thinking about it. Even through my teen years, he wouldn’t go a day without wrapping me up in one and telling me he was proud of me. I tell you what, those words have gotten me through many a hard night. He wasn’t perfect, but I knew I was deeply loved. You know what’s interesting? I’ve never heard my dad pray, and I don’t think he’s ever owned a Bible. But when I came to know Jesus as my personal Savior, and when I began reading my Bible, it was very easy for me to see God’s loving character, and I attribute that to my dads loving character.

    Reply
  22. cree

    ohhh it’s so tempting to attribute life’s trials to God’s disapproval.. !
    thank you for this meditation– it encourages me to remind myself that He is my Ultimate Best Friend .. He is there through thick and thin! He blesses us wherever we are in life, not because He dis/approves, but just because He loves us! And besides, if our Heavenly Father does bring tribulations upon His children to show His disapproval, then Jesus wouldn’t have suffered here on earth.. !

    Reply
  23. Ericka

    God has always hung out over and in my life my whole life. there was never a big turning point or anything, i just always knew He was there. when i used to say that, i felt like maybe that was the same for everyone, but ive learned thats not the case. i dont know if its because of my autism but it seems to be common that sometimes when you have a neurodiverse brain, you sense things differently, and this must be part of that for me.

    i said in another days comments that i always felt like i sometimes naively got myself into situations where i could have gotten really hurt or been in danger, but i was always so protected. it wasnt completely obvious at the time, so it wasnt like an overbearing helecopter dad, but in hindsight its clear, God was that loving Father, perhaps with a look on His face that anyone who might think about hurting me thought twice – even if not consciously.
    and like one of my other comments, this stuff is just coming out of me in the moment, i never thought about things like this before.

    this is the most beautiful thing ive ever heard. i want to start doing it with my kids but im crying too much during it. maybe the next time through it 😛

    Reply
  24. Joelle W

    As I’ve healed from various experiences in the past and learned to study the psalms in a personal way, I’ve felt God drawing close as have seen Him as a loving Father. He is so good to continually draw us to Him!

    Reply
  25. Nicky Dube

    I have never had trouble seeing God as my loving heavenly father. My father was a good father and I enjoyed spending time with him. He wasn’t super affectionate but I knew he loved me by the way that he took care of me and our family in general. He wasn’t perfect, but he had many good qualities that led me to see God as a loving father as well. I just realized that I wrote most of that in the past tense but my father is still alive. I wonder what that means…

    Reply
  26. Erin D

    Growing up I always just thought of God as Christ’s Father, not necessarily mine. I didn’t really have a father much after age 5, and I didn’t really remember all that much about our relationship. When I was younger I would pray to God but He seemed far away and I didn’t really know how to connect to Him. When my dad died, I became angry with God and I pushed Him away. When I was a bit older and needed help with my mother, I went to my minister and when he wasn’t able to help me I lost some more of my faith, thinking if my pastor could not help me, I must have to figure things out on my own. It took years before, my husband brought me back to the idea of praying and leaning on God. Now after a few years of more intensive devotionals and reading my Bible, I’ve realized that the hole my earthly father left that I was trying to fill all my life, God has been right there waiting to fill and to tell me He is my Father.

    Reply
  27. Donna

    I sometimes have wondered if Jesus will be able to hug us all … it would certainly take a lot of time … but then time isn’t important in eternity. I’ll picture Him doing it here. I need that … and I can feel some of the burdens of the world roll off my shoulders as I think about it.

    Reply
  28. Steve

    Sorry for chiming in here a bit late. When I close my eyes and imagine looking into my father’s eyes, I see shame, disappointment and disgust (for not being the “rough and tumble” boy he wanted me to be.) This contributed to some gender identity confusion. When I look into my Father’s eyes, I admit to the past’s influence on what I envision. So this particular meditation was quite powerful to me, and one worth repeating. Thank you Jen for this gem!

    Reply
  29. Megan

    Over the years, I’ve at times fallen into the trap of believing that my chronic illness was a punishment from God. I also understood the silence and disinterest (for, seemingly, the most part) of my church to be part of that condemnation. In recent times, I’ve learned more convincingly that God is with me, even through the pain. It’s still hard, because when my sickness relapses (and there is no effective treatment), that feels like abandonment. I’ve had to limit contact with people, long before the pandemic, as people often don’t understand and minimise my experience by offering platitudes and unhelpful comparisons. My life would be very lonely, except for Jesus. He is a faithful friend.

    Reply
    1. Steve

      May this group provide you with more compassionate and understanding friends, Megan, who will never minimize the ongoing physical and emotional pain you have endured. So glad you have discovered your True Friend.

      Reply
    2. cree

      Hi, Megan, I’m very sorry to hear about your chronic illness and the feeling of abandonment and the isolation you have to go through 🙁 Please know that I am inspired by what you shared, that your life is not very lonely because of Jesus. What a Wonderful Saviour! <3

      Reply
    3. Erin D

      Hi Megan,
      I understand so completely what you are expressing here. I also suffer with incurable chronic pain and illness. It can feel like an awful prison sentence somedays. It’s helping me to study suffering from the Bible, in particular, Christ’s suffering and it helps me to realize even if I have to suffer here it’s ok because Christ is with me. He will strengthen me and eventually I have the promise of a new pain free, healthy body and so do you! I hope this comes across as loving and encouraging! You’re not alone!

      Reply
      1. Megan

        So sorry that you experience this struggle too, Erin. I agree wholeheartedly that chronic pain and illness feels like a prison sentence. Christ’s unseen (yet real) presence has gotten me through many a difficult day. Thank you for sharing your hope. I look forward to being pain-free and energised one day! <3

        Reply
        1. Donna

          Hi Megan … I decided to go back and read some of the previous meditations and posts, and there you are. I too suffer with chronic pain. I can get out to stores, and do some walking, but sitting is the worst. I can’t visit friends, go to concerts, restaurants, etc. My pain is due to an assessment by a physical therapist, who ended up literally disabling me. Our world really shrinks, doesn’t it? Other things have isolated me too … before COVID … so I’m trying to find ways to connect to other people. Those feelings of abandonment and betrayal by people … or God … are devastating. I’m also looking for that peace in Jesus … those arms of love around me … unconditional acceptance. I like to think that part of reward of heaven is to see a group of “heavenly beings” being so excited to see me, that I have their undivided attention. 🙂

          Reply
  30. Mary

    My dad passed away unexpectedly when I was 19. He had his issues but I always felt he loved me. Thanks to my mom’s faith I learned to love God as my Father that I so desperately missed. Although I haven’t had an earthly father around since 2003, and life has been hard at times I have felt my Heavenly Father with me and even seen how His perfect love surpasses any earthly relationship.

    Reply
  31. JULIE OLSON

    Wanting human approval has been an issue for me, often based on performance to be worthy But God’s live is pure, holy, and unbiased. Thank you Jesus.

    Reply
  32. Lauren

    What a beautiful reminder of how our Heavenly Father loves us. I had a hard time with that growing up, my dad was present but not super involved, and my mom was happy being the disciplinarian, not often in a way that was comforting. I’m still learning that my Father ISN’T like that!

    Reply
  33. Amy

    My name is Amy, I joined a few days ago, but am just now commenting. I’ve been learning the benefits of breathing and mindfulness. So I thought I’d try this out and see how it went. Today, I appreciated the reminder that God’s good intent and love toward us isn’t based on the misfortunes and troubles we face.
    My father had a lot of anger and didn’t manage it. Instead, he took it out on us verbally and emotionally. I was 17 when I had the (shocking) thought that God wasn’t angry at me. Not that I “always” thought of God was angry before that, but evidently it was very intertwined with who I believed him to be. The thought that God wasn’t angry with me shocked me so much. It’s been years of intentional work and experiencing healthy relationships, but I have grown. And now most days, I see God as very different from my father.

    Reply
  34. Daniel Parsons

    When I was at my bottom in early 1994, a new friend in a recovery group spent time with me and shared about his ideas of God being a loving father. My dad suffered from severe PTSD from the Korean War so he did not display much emotion. I like the idea about God waits for us to run to HIM and accept HIS Love that is displayed in HIS giving us free will.

    Reply
  35. Sasha

    When we stray, it is so easy to forget just how much God loves us and longs for us. This was a wonderful reminder and encouragement to return with haste to His open arms.

    Reply
  36. WayAnne

    This meditation reminded me a lot of Sara Grove’s song, My Dream. A beautiful image of God the father welcoming us home as we walk down the street.

    Reply
  37. Monica

    I have come to believe that everyone has somewhat of a skewed view of God’s character to one degree or another because of this sinful world that we live in. It’s a great relief to learn that we don’t have to be afraid to come to Him. I like your poem, Jennifer. Thanks for the reminder about our Heavenly Father’s joy to take us back.

    Reply
  38. Ann

    Took a while to figure out how to respond. I’ve never meditated. It was an interesting thought. I struggle with anxiety that pandemic isolation has worsen. Any chance of learning more about Jesus draws me. Thank you. I’m writing this 12 days in. The breathing was difficult at first as I truly felt air hunger and then more anxiety. I can do it now. But only during the breathing song. After that I don’t pay attention to my breathing but am relaxed. I don’t understand most of the words of the breathing song. Any chance you could post the words? Thank you for considering my request.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.