Updated: Oct 15, 2022
Have you ever wondered how God feels about you in the midst of a bad choice or dark place? Or how he wants you to handle those decisions or circumstances that led you to that darkness in the first place?
What I have come to learn is that, far from being the distant, remote God who was standing back ready to smite me for my offenses, my Creator meets me in the middle of those ugly choices with grace and mercy, ready to help me grow through them.
I remember one such time quite vividly. I was anxiously waiting for God to enter my thoughts and my heart to chastise me for a particularly poor choice I’d made. You know, the kind of choice that fills you with deep shame and self-loathing. All morning long I avoided him, instead choosing to rebuke myself for my stupidity. Shame and self-directed anger raged like a consuming wildfire in my heart.
Finally, after I had whipped myself up into an emotional pique, I cried out loud to the Lord, “Fine! I’m ready. Let’s get this over with. Just tell me all I did wrong.” Then I held my breath and waited for his powerful rebuke.
Only God didn’t greet me with the displeasure and retribution I felt I so readily deserved. Instead, he met me with such a rich love, so ripe with compassionate kindness that it broke my heart far more than his anger ever could.
That day he made it clear to me that he was with me, heart and soul, no matter my choices. No matter what. That there was no hole I could dig myself into. No set of circumstances I could find myself in, that he wouldn’t be right there in the trenches with me, loving and helping me to grow from and through it all.
And that knowledge changed me. Profoundly. It made me want to live in such a way that honored his tender loving-kindness for me.
Romans 5:6-8 tells us that, When the time was right, the Anointed One died for all of us who were far from God, powerless, and weak. Now it is rare to find someone willing to die for an upright person, although it’s possible that someone may give up his life for one who is truly good. But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display—the Anointed One died for us.
In that moment, and many moments moving forward, truth gently reminded me of what I knew but can sometimes forget: that I can’t earn God’s love; that is something only Jesus on the cross could earn for me. I can’t win my freedom; that’s a price only Jesus can pay for me.
Yes, sometimes the consequences of my choices remain. But in my spirit, I can experience freedom and healing always. I am empowered to move forward differently with the strength of the Almighty by my side.
And when others’ choices wound me? I remember God’s promise that nothing I go through is wasted in his hands. He works out all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) without exception.
I now understand how God's view of me when I struggle is such an important step toward healing, growth, and ultimately toward peace. And it is crystalized in a single word: “ennoia,” a word that appears in the New Testament twice. In its simplest terms, ennoia means thoughts or attitude. In a broader context, it means devotion, concept or having a notion.
God’s thought process (ennoia) is so different than yours and mine. His thoughts about my weaknesses and struggles aren’t one of judgement and anger, but of a heart that hurts with me. That wants to offer comfort, rest, and ultimately transformation leading to more meaningful, engaged living.
I realized that although my conceptual thought process of God was flawed, and rooted in a lot of guilt and condemnation, it could be replaced by his good and precious gift. The gift of Jesus dying on the cross—the truth of how my Creator thinks of me (ennoia) fully expressed in that one act. The Cross is the ultimate expression of his loving-kindness, his deepest and truest view of how he sees me.
Simply put, I am worth everything to him. And so are you.
The more I embrace his love for me, the more it motivates me to want to live and become more like him, just as he promised us it would in 2 Corinthians 5:14. I think 1 Peter 4:1-2 sums it up best: “Since Christ, though innocent, suffered in his flesh for you, now you also must be a prepared soldier, having the same mind-set (ennoia), for whoever has died in his body is done with sin. So live the rest of your earthly life no longer concerned with human desires but consumed with what brings pleasure to God.”
The more I understand how God thinks about me, the more I begin to embrace his view and my own thinking (ennoia) gets a much-needed overhaul, just like it did that day. I go from saying seriously ugly things about myself like: “You suck.” “You're stupid.” “You can’t ever get it right.” “You aren’t worth love.” “You will never be enough.”
Instead, I offer myself a healthier narrative reminding me of God’s truth. Namely, I am cherished, I am capable, I am empowered, I am loved, and I am chosen! He has changed me, is changing me, and will continue to change me until I am greeted face-to-face in heaven. He has clothed me in the purest of white despite my inherent dirtiness. All because of the cross. And that is a thought worth thinking!
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
One of the ways we can get tripped up as believers is in understanding God’s view of us. We know he loves us and desires a genuine relationship with us. We know we walk in grace and freedom. Still, sometimes the voice of religion and condemnation are so strong in our minds and hearts. Our thinking is so broken, we forget that when our hearts condemn us Jesus steps in our place for spiritual rescue.
This week, set aside some time to engage with your Creator about his heart for you, asking him to reveal any of your thoughts that could use an overhaul. Look for those lies ,and then replace them with what is true. Use spiritual truths from the word of God (here is an online bible to get you started). Start looking each day for the little ways God is showing you loving-kindness, and begin to build upon that awareness. In time, he will begin to transform your mind and your heart.
PRAYER: Lord, I hear the enemy of my soul shouting words of disapproval, of unworthiness and of never-ending heartache and pain. May I hear the quiet whisper of your voice in the midst of my darkness, beckoning me toward the bright light of your truth. Thank you for the richness of your love, your mercy, your comfort and your grace. May I carry your mindset with me today and always. Amen.
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