DAY #5

DAY #5

I lived in ignorance of God until I met Jesus on my own personal Damascus Road at 19 years of age. Being in a very irreligious collage environment, following Jesus led to the loss of just about every friend I had, some of whom mocked me cruelly. I was cancelled. But for the first time in my life, I came to know God’s approval, and it gave me the courage to face the loss of human approval.  

My initial response to God had been fear. Now, we tend to eschew the fear of God these days, but the experience actually ends well. The fear of God gets our attention, leading us to focus upon Him who is love. Seeing His goodness, we find repentance. Then He applies the balm of forgiving grace to our sin-scorched hearts. Once we feel secure in His approval, we face social disapproval with courage, knowing that we have a Friend in high places. We can face being cancelled because we know He will never cancel us. 

Jesus said not to fear Satan, who could only destroy the body, but fear Him, God, who could destroy both body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28). Could it be that fearing God first and foremost, above all other things, can actually make us healthier by killing our inner coward? And specifically, the part of us that fears social shame? Our inner people-pleaser?  

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be liked. But human beings have a robust history of desiring social approval to an extreme, amounting to idolatry or what we call codependency. Social approval is what drives social media and our obsession with “likes.” Fear of social disapproval can lead people into pathologies like social anxiety disorder or avoidant personality disorder. Fear of social disapproval kept people from defending the oppressed like the Jews during the Holocaust and African Americans during slavery and Jim Crow. If you’re like me, you’d like to place principle above human approval. You’d like to kick the approval addiction habit. 

Somewhat counterintuitively, a reverent fear of a holy God can be a first step. 

Scroll back in your life to a time when you felt the approval of God. If you don’t have such a memory, fix your mind right now on the fact that God receives you in Jesus, and that the approval He bestowed upon His Son, embraces you. Thank God for that gift. 

And pray with me.  Dear, loving, holy, Sovereign. How can a Being so powerful as You be so safe? Knowing that in Jesus you accept us fully, and that the “well done” you spoke to Him applies to us, makes us secure. It fortifies us against the condemnation that the world sometimes brings against us. Thank You. 

“He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So, we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6

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

71 thoughts on “DAY #5

  1. Lisa Reynoso

    Growing up in a rather legalistic home, I was taught (implicitly, not explicitly) that God’s approval came only when I was deserving. I struggle with this even today. Although I never question His love, His acceptance is another matter. I want to believe that God accepts me no matter what, but it’s hard. I don’t know how to get there even now. The fact that I’m struggling with some very real issues doesn’t help.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      “And the word that was spoken to Jesus at the Jordan, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” embraces humanity. God spoke to Jesus as our representative. With all our sins and weaknesses, we are not cast aside as worthless. “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”” Ephesians 1:6.

      That’s from Desire of Ages, 113, the chapter on the baptism.

      Reply
    2. Cheryl

      Hi Lisa, I totally relate to what you said. Also, I struggle with knowing Jesus and his love for me. I struggle with surrendering and trusting Him and loving Him back

      I just prayed to God that the Holy Spirit shows us today we are in His circle of love.

      Reply
    3. Daniel Parsons

      Praying for you and your family Lisa. I think everyone has trauma and pain at some point in this life. Thank God Jesus will remove all the pain when HE comes. I am grateful that you are out sharing the Gospel with others. I remember attending your Sabbath School class in Portland !

      Reply
  2. Ann

    God’s approval of my worth means that the promises in His word are for me too. Knowing I am His child is an act of faith for me. It can be discouraging with my less-than-perfect behavior, but Jesus is my righteousness. I can’t do anything to be worthy or gain approval. It has already been done. My job is to stay in His strong, loving arms.

    Reply
  3. Kristina

    What a deep thought that the fear of God gets us to focus on His love and acceptance and because we don’t understand this we set up social idols and addictions in our lives where we are trying to please everyone else but God, yet we say we love Him. That reminds of Prov. 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
    It sounds like if we start with the beginning then we can find acceptance and healing in His love.

    Reply
  4. Katrina

    Hi Everyone
    I’m so thankful for this message in word and song! One of my favorite topics is focusing on the fact that there is no fear in love! And Jesus is that perfect love! Praise the Lord!

    Reply
  5. Simone

    Think of this in a spiritual sense. If you have to walk out in a snow storm you prepare yourself to keep warm and protected from the elements. I don’t respond the same if I am watching from my window. Either way God is there. I just feel or react different. Also God shows us peace after the storm. There is much beauty in the storm.

    Reply
    1. Monica

      I agree. It is that peace and security that we have by faith in Jesus and what He has done for us that makes all the difference. There will always be storms until Jesus comes, but He will also always be with us.

      Reply
  6. Valerie

    I realize much of the stress and anxiety I’ve faced is often due to a desire for approval. It is so good to be reminded that the approval that matters is already mine, from God Himself. Will be clinging to that promise.

    Reply
  7. Steve

    Wow, you really hit the ball out of the park with this one, Jen.
    Avoidant personality traits is something I’ve been all too familiar with. So much so that I found myself wanting to avoid doing this meditation. My understanding of such avoidance stems from parental rejection, and being a sensitive kid, the wounds cut quite deep. Leading to the greatest soul killer: shame.
    So I’m sure you can understand that, for me, I needed to substitute the word “rejection” for disapproval; and the word “acceptance” for approval to gain a more personal meaning in your profound message above.
    But how to move on from this deeply ingrained pattern? I learned from one of your earlier meditations that mainstreamed psychology can keep us returning to the past, again and again, repeating the same old story from the pains of our childhood.
    But biblical psychology can perhaps help us move beyond the lies we learned during childhood to the truth of being deeply loved and accepted from that special Someone who experienced the ultimate shame as He took on (or rather took in) our wretched sin.
    I know you won 1st prize for this Meditation program, but to me you have created a true Masterpiece.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul.

    Reply
  8. Shirley Mann

    Thinking about how I have always continued to love my own children even when I might disapprove of their behavior or choices lets me understand how Jesus can love me even when I disappoint him with my choices. I’m not sure I can feel His approval though. When I am disappointed in myself (what I have done) it is hard to feel that Jesus approves me. I am glad I can know that He will always love me!

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Here’s the grounds of God’s approval of you. God’s approval of Jesus embraces humanity, sister:

      “And the word that was spoken to Jesus at the Jordan, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” embraces humanity. God spoke to Jesus as our representative. With all our sins and weaknesses, we are not cast aside as worthless. “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”” Ephesians 1:6.

      That’s from Desire of Ages, 113, the chapter on the baptism.

      Reply
  9. Nicky Dube

    I have been a people pleaser most of my life. When listening to the meditation and reading today’s question, I immediately started thinking about whether or not I am currently living in a way that God could approve of me. It is sooooo ingrained and I have to remind myself of the covering of Christ. “Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief. Amen.”

    Listening to the meditation today was the first time the tears came. This program has been so deep and fulfilling. I can’t wait for Jesus Meditation to be available to all!

    Reply
  10. Sabrina Petersen

    I’ve often felt the approval of God in my moments of deepest despair—-when I realized I was not capable and needed to rely fully on Him. In those seasons in my life when I was exhausted from trying to do everything “just right,” God has reminded me that I can come to Him as I am.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      So the approval came when you had nothing to give for it. Interesting. It’s when we realize we have no righteousness of our own that we’re the most inclined to accept Jesus’ righteousness.

      Reply
  11. Sarah

    The time I struggled the most with fearing God had rejected me was when I lived and worked with some extremely legalistic individuals. No matter how hard I tried, I could never succeed in doing anything “right,” according to them. They were so “holy” that I began to fear that I could never please God, either. But after I left, broken and desperate, I began realizing that they had woven a web of lies about me, that God’s acceptance is based on our performance. But God isn’t like that. “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you…'” I remember realizing how He chose the outcasts of society––the ones who were different, rejected, or excluded by others––for His friends. He would have chosen the others, too, but they were so “holy” and in need of no physician that they didn’t need His friendship. He is the truest Friend I will ever have.

    Reply
  12. Sharon

    Another area of struggle for me. As a child, I was taught that if I wasn’t everything those around me wanted me to be and do, I was mean and selfish. People pleasing and codependency was the only way to survive. I’m learning better, but I still fall into my old, ingrained habits far too often for my liking, much less my wellbeing. There have been many small things in the past few years, that looking back, are obviously being worked out for my benefit by Someone. I believe it’s God. I just have trouble remembering. These meditations are a big help my slowly developing the habit of remembering who God is and what He has done thus far.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Sharon, there’s no straight line out. We will relapse back into old patterns. But the trend of our lives will be away from the darkness toward the light. The righteous man falls seven times and is justified again.

      Reply
  13. Jane

    I spent an entire year focusing on my need to replace the fear of man with the fear of God. The need for approval still runs deep, but I’m praying that Zephaniah 3:17 will become a reality for me. It says, “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

    Reply
  14. Amy

    The message really spoke to me today. I so long for approval, for validation of my worth. My social anxiety and perfectionism make it difficult for me to even post comments here. The message of God’s acceptance is one which I need to sink deep inside. Also, embracing the concept that the healthy fear of God pushes out all other fear. Through God’s love, I can let go….

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Amy, I’ve been sharing this quote with people. It helps us understand how God can accept us in Jesus:

      “And the word that was spoken to Jesus at the Jordan, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” embraces humanity. God spoke to Jesus as our representative. With all our sins and weaknesses, we are not cast aside as worthless. “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”” Ephesians 1:6.

      That’s from Desire of Ages, 113, the chapter on the baptism.

      Reply
  15. Nowelle

    I’m still digesting this one…not sure how to answer the question. I praise God for His promise to never leave us nor forsake us. He is so good to us.

    Reply
  16. cree

    something the Lord has graciously taught me recently was that if i have the wrong perception about His approval (the wrong ideas of what I could do to compliment and “approve” of me), I consequently will suffer from my false perception of His disapproval. I suffered big time, the hard way, but worth such a valuable and crucial lesson for which I praise God for!

    Reply
  17. Linda

    It’s Day 5 and I’ve repeated Days 1-4 throughout today, especially Day 1. Day 1 set the tone and everyday I go back for a listen.”Be anxious for NOTHING”, make my requests known to God.” Foundational. Emphasizes that ALL requests and lives matter to God.
    There is an extra pep in my step as I ponder God’s word and slow down to listen to God’s instruction.

    This is a beautiful, life enriching project, Jen and Neville!!!

    Reply
  18. Cheryl

    I listened again this evening. I look forward to the peace of God and His acceptance of me. And being loving towards Him in return.

    Reply
  19. Joelle W

    To me, God’s approval feels like relief – like taking a deep breath. No more trying so hard or having to hold it all together. I can relax – He loves me just this way and approves of me in Jesus.

    Reply
  20. Erin D

    This is a tough one to answer. It’s hard for me to distinguish feeling Gods love from His approval. The more I connect with Him, the more I am concerned with seeking His approval. Also the more connected, the more love and approval I feel. When He answers prayers in beautiful unexpected ways or like today a friend brought over a book to me about our suffering with Christ that I had been wanting to read unbeknownst to her. When I see Him moving and making things happen in my life to help me, such as being invited to join this program right when I was searching for something to help me deal with my anxiety and other issues. He creates little miracles in our lives daily and I guess to me that must mean He approves of me to some degree.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Erin, I’ve been sharing this quote with people. It helps us understand how God can accept us in Jesus:

      “And the word that was spoken to Jesus at the Jordan, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” embraces humanity. God spoke to Jesus as our representative. With all our sins and weaknesses, we are not cast aside as worthless. “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”” Ephesians 1:6.

      That’s from Desire of Ages, 113, the chapter on the baptism.

      You are accepted in Jesus as your representative. This detaches God’s approval from your own righteousness. When God smiled on His Son, He smiled on you because His Son stood as your representative and advocate. If you come to Him, He will in now wise cast you out because of some imperfection in you. The only way you can change is to come. So come boldly in Jesus.

      Reply
  21. Donna

    I’m about 5 years old, and I’m looking at the wrinkles in the palm of my left hand. I see what looks like a perfect pitchfork, and I think of the devil. Is it a sign that I’m going to be in hell? Then a popular song comes on the radio, “Let the Sunshine In … ‘My mommy told me something, a little girl should know … it’s all about the devil, how I learned to hate him so……..'”. That song terrified me. Then when I was about 8, I asked my mom, “If I’m good will I go to heaven?”. She said, “Yes”. A few months later, I asked again, and this time she hesitated … then said, “I suppose”. Oh, oh. Seeing a picture of Dante’s Inferno … is that where I was going to be someday?
    At about 10, I hear my dad say to my mom, “I suppose she’s going to turn out just like the rest of them”…referring to me. So as the youngest of 6, I had to save my family. This people-pleasing, “good girl”, was baptized at 16 and a few years later, the pastor who baptized me said that his family was praying that I’d marry a minister. I did.
    No one talked to me about God’s love…His towards me, or mine towards Him. But I “worked” for Him now in ministry. I guess I just winged it. Then I realized how much I hated Him. I believed with all my heart that He had created me unsaveable. Of all the people who lived on this planet, I was the only one who could not be saved. I went back to that little girl, and the fear that she had in her heart … that she was “marked” with the devil’s pitchfork on her hand. I pushed that fear down, and lived my life. But like toxic waste, it found it’s way to the “top”; then I would push it down again. Who do you talk to when you’re in the ministry and don’t want to cause problems for your pastor husband? I believed I had nowhere to go with my doubts, my confusion, my unbelief, my questions. I’m struggling with fearing God and loving God … making sense of it. I’ve known numerous fear and only conditional love … I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

    Reply
  22. Den

    It was difficult to focus today.

    The time when I thought of knowing I had Gods approval was at baptism because the Father could say to me what he said to Jesus. This is my beloved in whom I am well pleased. That was a long time ago. My prayer is to experience that assurance more often.

    Reply
  23. Megan

    Most of my life, I’ve aimed to please people, but always felt like I came up short. My memories are haunted by situations of never quite feeling ‘enough’. Sensitivity to criticism left me anxious and miserable. (Even when I succeeded, I couldn’t really enjoy it.)

    Eventually, I learned to truly lean on Jesus and His merits; to stop wearing myself out trying to do the impossible: trying to please everyone (including God) with my actions.

    With Jesus, I am accepted, regardless of anyone who criticises, unfriends, or unfollows me. That is liberating! I am thankful to God for taking the rod from my back, and allowing me another chance to discover who I am in Christ, and find my purpose for being here.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Schwirzer

      Amen. I too was an “overly sensitive” child, but the more I was criticized for it, the more “overly sensitive” I became! Jesus has finally healed those wounds for me that human beings only deepened.

      Reply
  24. Vanessa

    This faith in God’s approval, through Christ’s righteousness, tells me that I can come to God more freely and unashamedly no matter how I feel.

    Reply
  25. Ericka

    just so beautiful.
    im just so thankful for Jesus – how He sacrificed Himself in order to give all things to us. being able to have faith that because of Him God approves of me really is an unrealized part of how i was able to start letting go of legalism. i feel like im still in the process of that to an extent, but im so grateful to be healed of that. knowing that Jesus is the filter through which God sees me helps prevent me from clinging to shame that i carried for not being that “perfect generation” i feel i was taught i had to be. praise JESUS!

    Reply
  26. Lauren

    I think I’ve struggled with this most of my life as well. I was generally not accepted in school so I was always looking for someone who would accept me rather than finding comfort in knowing that my Heavenly Father accepts me.

    I need to get better about listening to these twice a day, maybe the moment I wake up before I get out of bed, and then as I’m settling in for the night. I’ve been consistent only listening to them in the morning when I get into work.

    Reply
  27. Daniel Parsons

    Having God’s approval helps me not worry about my short comings. I am human, Jesus was human. I am perfectly imperfect. Just run into HIS outstretched arms when you encounter the tough times !

    Reply
  28. Tara

    I think I’ve often thought of the fear of God as the beginning and end of wisdom, but this makes so much more sense to me now. Thank you for sharing this message!

    Reply
  29. Sasha

    Under His wings I am safely abiding;
    Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
    Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep me;
    He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

    Reply
  30. WayAnne

    To know that I sit in God’s approval, no matter what I am doing or where I am, is to know that I have nothing to prove and no one to impress. I can stop wasting my time and energy on doing all the things that I think will win the approval of others or God and I can rest, finally.

    Reply
  31. Ann

    Can’t say I’ve ever felt the approval of God. Approval or not, it’s comforting to know He will never leave me.

    Reply
  32. Onieka

    There were instances in my life where I struggled to feel God’s love and approval. I felt my thoughts were too dark, my jokes ( a defense mechanism) were not holy enough, and I wasn’t friendly enough, and thus representing God the wrong way. I’ve come to a new understanding that the way I felt about God was influenced by how I felt other people treated me. By the condemnation I received from the world. I’m learning to step away from that and closer to God’s truth.

    Reply

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