How Do I Love God?

It was late. I had been on the phone with Martha for over half an hour, talking, laughing, listening to her sometimes talk through tears as she lay in a hospital bed wondering what her tomorrow would hold.

My bedtime had arrived much earlier, but sometimes the things of life come before sleep.

It was one of those nights.

Olivia was on the couch next to me as I said bye to Martha. She, too, was full of late-night questions.

Her classmate Amber had a very bad day yesterday and talk of air flighting her to another hospital was the last we had heard about her worsening condition.

Oh, Olivia, our 14 year old philosopher, who honestly, could sit on the steps of any church with a group of elders and ask questions all day long. I said bye to Martha and turned to Olivia who began her inquiry,

Why does God let bad things happen to good people?

Why doesn’t God just stop the devil now if He knows He’s going to win in the end anyway?

I know God uses pain to help others, but what about the people who are hurting? How does it help them?

How do I love God? I know He’s real, but how do I really love Him?

If something happens to Amber, what will her mom do?

If I were Amber’s mom, I wouldn’t want anyone trying to tell me about God.

I mean, I believe in God, but sometimes I don’t know how to love Him.

The questions continued long enough for Tim to join us, and the moments of silence throughout our conversation hung in the air like the sound of laundry hanging on a line on a windless day. Stagnant, unmoving, we sat in the quiet, hoping someone would pop in with a list of all the right things to say.

As I glanced at Tim from time to time, I knew that deep inside we both have some of these same questions too.

I can’t imagine muddling my way through life without God, without the Hope of Heaven, without His love.

But from an earthly perspective so much of our pain seems so unnecessary, doesn’t it?

We tried to explain things to Olivia, but the sound of our answers was even bothering me. Sometimes trite, sometimes too simple.

And then, with trembling lip, Olivia said what I think was on her heart from the very beginning,

And Nick.

I don’t remember him anymore.

Why didn’t I rub his feet more?

Why didn’t I do more nice things for him?

The last thing I remember is leaving for Maddie’s house and you saying, “Give Nick a kiss goodbye.,” and I didn’t because he looked so bad.

That’s a hard thing to have as your last memory.

I know what we’ve been through has helped other people, but how is it helping us?

Olivia began to cry, and it was all I could do to not join her.

Tim’s head went down, and I knew he, too, was sharing in her pain at a level so deep that to try and talk would have been too difficult.

I realized last night that grief isn’t just a visitor at our house. Grief has moved in to stay.

There will be nights when one of us is especially aware of grief’s presence and maybe it is in acknowledging this reality that we can all be okay with our sadness.

We went to bed with heavy hearts, unanswered questions, and a sense of loss that often becomes overshadowed by the busyness of our lives these days.

I woke up with a headache, eyes aching, and a body that is moving much more slowly than the hands on the clock.

This morning, I’m hoping you will whisper a prayer for Olivia, and if you have a verse or thought about how to help a child know God loves her and then teach her how to know she loves Him back, I would be so thankful. Pray for Martha, Amber, Amber’s family, Charlotte, and so many more who are facing tough questions right now.

I keep hearing the words to the song, “I want to know You, I want to seek Your face, I want to know You more…” in my head.

Olivia is living this song, but she’s struggling with tough questions these days.

Maybe you have tough questions too.

I wish I had great answers.

I only have Him……..

and for today that has to be enough.

I hope it’s enough for you too.

I love you all so much.

Searching with Olivia and with you,

10 thoughts on “How Do I Love God?

  1. Tammy, I trust in this verse, it is my favorit and remember it often. Ecclesiastes 3,1and2. There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. Love you and praying for all of you!!!! Dana Franks

  2. I rely heavily on Proverbs 3:5. Someone told me to look up this verse while my sister was sick. I even have this verse hanging up in my office so that I can see it everyday. There are so many things I don’t understand, but I try to just lean on Him and trust that he will someday help me understand.

  3. Trusting in His goodness and His good promises, even in the pain. Psalm 27:13, ” I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” And verse 14: Wait , for the Lord; Be strong, & let your heart take courage; yes,wait for the Lord.” Waiting for the Lord & praying with you Tammy, in Jesus, Cynthia

  4. Oh Tammy today’s reading was difficult to get through. Oh how we sure do have those questions with no answers, such as Charlotte, a baby, so little and having to go through what she is dealing with. Then I think back to Adam and Eve, if they had listened where would be right now. With having those questions and by our faith we have to lean on God knowing that hopefully we will get our answers. Our earthly life is such a struggle with no answers. Olivia certainly has the right to have those questions since our children were born pure of heart, until this world takes hold. Have faith Olivia since Satan lurks around every corner and waits for us to slander our God and take hold of us. We will win out in the end. Praying for you, Olivia, Tim, Martha, Amber and our Charlotte. Hugs to you, Sandy

  5. Tammy,

    After reading your post today, I questioned what advice I could possibly give you as you face questions that seem to have no answers. I have a suggestion.. One that might seem silly or juvenile but for me, it always works. Whenever I question things, especially about God and His love for me, I simply ask Him.. out loud.. Go outside, get to a quiet place, look up at the sky, and simply ask Him.. You’ll be surprised at what wonderful answers you receive. They’re the type you can’t see or can’t feel, but you’ll most certainly hear him. Don’t be afraid to ask questions =) Hope this helps

  6. Thank you all for your kind words and Scriptures. I know that God has heard your prayers. Olivia had to write an article for school tomorrow, and I just proofread it. Guess what topic she chose? Our Make A Wish Trip to the Bahama! She shared such a sweet memories and at the end said, “This is my best memory with my brother Nick before he died of cancer.” I think she needed to go through last night to get to the point of writing this so freely.

    I know God walks every step of her questioning with her. Being still, speaking our questions out loud, leaning on Him, reading His Word,and trusting Him for answers…….that is the road of a Christian, isn’t it? You have all encouraged me today.

    Thank you so much.

    I love you all,
    Tammy