Hard Thoughts of God

One night a few months ago I expressed to my wife Kristi that I was feeling overwhelmed.  At that time she asked me an incisive question: “What are you believing about God right now?”

This is a brilliant question to ask any time you are feeling disquieted in spirit, or anytime you’re feeling depressed or discouraged.I answered Kristi, “Well, if I am feeling overwhelmed, I guess I’m believing that God is giving me too much to bear. I guess I’m believing that God won’t be faithful to help me. Which in essence means I guess I’m believing that God has lied to me and is not good.”

Kristi’s question revealed that I was thinking hard thoughts of God.

Many Christians think hard thoughts of God by believing their heavenly Father is continually disappointed with them. This reveals a deficient grasp of the Gospel, which tells us that in Christ God sees believers as justified — “just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned,” and “just-as-if-I’d-always-perfectly-obeyed”. In other words, because of the blood of Christ God declares us not guilty, and because of the obedience of Christ God declares us to be positively righteous. Our heavenly Father looks upon his children with overflowing love, gentleness and compassion, not disappointment, anger and frustration. If we think that God is continually disappointed in us that is thinking hard thoughts of God.  John Owen says,

“Consider that it is the greatest desire of God the Father that you should have loving fellowship with him. His greatest desire is that you should receive him into your soul as one full of love, tenderness and kindness to you. Flesh and blood is apt to think hard thoughts of God, to think that he is always angry and incapable of being pleased with his sinful creatures, that it is not for them to draw near to him…’I knew that you were a hard man’, said the evil servant in the Gospel.” (Communion with God, 31)

When we suffer and go through trials we can be tempted to think hard thoughts of God. We can think God is not good, God is not faithful, God does not hear my prayers, God does not have loving intentions toward me.

But the Bible is filled with promises like Lamentations 3:21-23:

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

What are you believing about God right now? Do you have hard thoughts of God? Or do you believe your heavenly Father is filled with love and tender feelings for you? Do you believe he delights in you and rejoices over you with singing (Zeph. 3:17)? Do you believe he is good and working all things together for your good? Do you believe his steadfast love to you never ceases? Meditate today on God’s tender love for you in Christ and give him praise.

Originally published November 23, 2007

photo by rsvstks

  • Rachel

    Your posts of the last several days (read all in one sitting) are working to stir up the breath of a quiet hope in my heart. Your words, combined with the teaching of my pastor, C.B. Eder, on this very thing, and reading this morning from Romans 1-5 are restoring me to think true thoughts of my Savior. Thank you.

  • Mark Altrogge

    Thanks Rachel. I pray that our loving Father and our compassionate Savior will pour out hope and joy into your heart. By the way, I love C.B. He exudes the love and affection of Jesus Christ. You are blessed to have him as your pastor.

    Mark

  • Jacob Hantla

    Praise God for his word and particularly Lamentations 3:21-23. Whenever my view of reality doesn’t have God’s steadfast love in focus (or even in my sights), it means I must call truth to mind. Anytime, I’m feeling overwhelmed, despondent, or hopeless, I need truth called to my mind.

    And I wanted to take this chance to thank you, Mark, for helping to embed that truth into my mind. Your “Hide the Word” cds have helped me greatly to do that. Lamentations 3:21-23 from Hide the Word 4 is one my particular favorites which is so embedded in my heart (and my wife’s too) that we have used it often (recalling its context) to shepherd our hearts to trust God and remember his steadfast love and mercies which are new every morning.

    Thank you for your ministry to me, a guy in Arizona you’ve never met. I praise God for you.

  • Mark Altrogge

    Jacob, thank you for your kind comments and encouragement. They really mean a lot to me. Lamentations 3:21-23 is also one of my favorite verses of all time.

    Mark

  • Pickwick12

    Thanks for posting this. I found you through a search engine.

    I have a tendency to think God is always disappointed in me. This was a fabulous reminder that He looks on me with love and approval.

    Amy

  • Pickwick12

    Thanks for posting this. I found you through a search engine.

    I have a tendency to think God is always disappointed in me. This was a fabulous reminder that He looks on me with love and approval.

    Amy

  • Jennifdr

    This is beautiful…thanks.

    • MarkAltrogge

      Thank you too!

  • David R

    I was very much encouraged by this post, Mark. Thank you for sharing this! I am reading through John Owen’s works right now and find them very challenging, encouraging and consisting.

    • MarkAltrogge

      Thanks David! I too am grateful for all the guys from the past who still encourage us!

  • http://FacesofLions.net Dave

    Mark,

    Thanks for this excellent post. I've experienced some down times lately where I have probably had hard thoughts about God.

    I so appreciate the Psalms in times like these. It's amazing how often the psalmist start with expressing a gripe but ends up expressing worship. How kind of the Lord to be so patient with us!

    Dave

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hi Dave, You're so right, the Psalms are honest in expressing pain and asking questions but always wind up expressing praise and trust in God. Thanks for adding your comments!

  • http://www.theverticall.blogspot.com Blaine

    So encouraging. A fitting word for me today. Thank you.

    • Mark Altrogge

      I'm grateful you were encouraged Blaine. Thanks for letting me know.

  • http://www.worshipfulreader.blogspot.com Ron Reffett

    Wow! thanks so much for this today Mark! Great reminder that we have to preach the gospel to ourselves everyday. I have been struggling with feeling overwhelmed here lately, those 'hard thougths' about God, like you'll never please God, He knows how wicked you are, you'll fail everytime! And you know what, in my own strength that's true,but as Martin Lloyd Jones has said about going through trials, "it's not what's true of me but what's true of Him." I must remember that the Lord will never disappoint and my entire eternity is banked on Christ and His righteousness and perfect obedience not on mine!
    Thank you for once again giving a great gospel charged reminder since I'm prone to wander and forget!
    Blessings
    Ron Reffett

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hey Ron, your battle to preach the gospel to yourself and believe God's word is so pleasing to God. And I like your DML Jones quote! Thanks for adding your comments!

  • http://halfahundredacrewood.blogspot.com/ Brandy

    This is just what I was thinking about this past week as I reflected over a time when God transformed what I thought was one of my biggest failures into one of His greatest successes in my life: http://halfahundredacrewood.blogspot.com/2011/08/

    I appreciate your posts so much. And your music. Thank you for blessing my life all the way down here in Tennessee!

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hi Brandy, great post on your blog! Incredible story. And when we fail and God changes us and our circumstances, he gets the glory! Thanks for your comments and encouragement from the land down under.

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