During one of the earliest days of my life, I remember swinging my younger brother on a swing attached to a big oak tree in our front yard. He was standing on the swing, and I was shaking it back and forth, trying to either give him a good time or shake him off. I can’t really remember.
But as it happened, I shook him right into my own face. The swing violently collided with my mouth, smashing right into my two front teeth. The swing got the better of the exchange, and my teeth gave way. After some blood and tears and a quick phone call to our dentist, my father decided these dislodged baby teeth needed to be pulled out. Thus began one of the greatest afflictions of my early life.
My father was my hero. I knew he was my protector, and I knew he would take care of me. But that day, what I thought I knew about my father quickly changed. I’ll never forget my own fear and agony as he took a pair of pliers and began to gently work loose my freshly busted teeth.
If you asked me in those moments if my dad loved me, I probably would have said no, and I would have been wrong. My dad hadn’t brought the pain, but he knew — better than I — what I needed in that moment. He knew that those teeth would soon turn black, decay, and be a danger to my overall health. He knew, even with the pain involved, the best thing for me was for those teeth to come out.
Jesus taught us that God treats us like a loving Father. He taught us to pray, “Our Father, who is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9) and His strongest teachings against anxiety and fear were based on the sovereign care of our loving Father God (Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus wanted us to know that God values us like a Father and can be trusted to give us exactly what we need.
But if you’re like me, there are moments when it doesn’t seem like God is a very loving Father. It might seem like He is withholding, distant, even hurtful at times. Perhaps the circumstances of your life feel a little like mine did the day my father had to lovingly pull out my teeth.
God’s love is much bigger than our momentary comfort. God has bigger dreams for our lives than just making us happy with our present circumstances. God is working to make us holy, because He knows that our holiness is what will make us truly happy. God is conforming our hearts into the image of Christ, because this glorifies Him and satisfies us. Jesus compared this process to the way a gardener prunes a plant. Yes, there is certainly cutting, but the gardener is skillfully working for the good of the plant and the good of the garden.
Tim Keller puts it this way, “God, being a good Father, tries to give us what we would have asked for if we knew everything he knew.” (Tweet This)
Do you believe that?
Do you believe that in your prayers for marriage God is answering exactly the way you would if you knew everything God knew? That’s a pretty big thought.
God is a good, gracious and loving Father. He is working all things for your greatest good all the time. He never wastes the pain of His children, but uses every bit to transform us into holy, happy disciples of Christ.
If the circumstances of your life aren’t what you’d hoped, might I encourage you to look into the face of your heavenly Father today and say through the pain and the tears, “I don’t understand, but I will trust You. I believe You love me and are working for my good.”
I’m glad my dad pulled my two front teeth out all those years ago. It wasn’t comfortable or fun, but it needed to be done. I know it hurt him to cause me pain, but I’m glad he gave me what I needed and not what I wanted in the moment. Thanks, Dad. I needed that.