This post was written by my wife, Tracy Bradford, today and has some encouraging truths about God’s grace and love.
Recently, someone asked me how I knew whether or not God loved me. I was happy to share my answer with them because if there is one thing I am more sure of than anything else in the entire world, it is that God does indeed love me very much! Maybe this answer will also encourage you!
This is Part One of a two-part answer. In this first part, I’ll share some big ideas that I certainly didn’t come up with on my own. I have learned them from talking to smart pastor types (like my husband) and my own studies. How do I know God loves me? There are three definite ways I know:
- Common Grace. This is the idea that God shows his love to all of humanity by giving all of us good things: sunshine, rain for our crops, a conscience that tells us right from wrong, beauty in nature, food from the earth, an imaginative, creative ability (that gives us many things like scientific discovery and medicine), a sense of humor…all of these things are given equally to all of humanity, whether or not a person is following God. God could’ve been an evil god who left us without any good thing. He could have left out the beauty of a sunset or the joy of a child’s smile. Instead, because he is the embodiment of love, he has given every one of us humans good things in our everyday life.
- Then, as members of God’s family, we also have Sanctifying Grace! Bonus! This means that as God’s family members, we have access to the Holy Spirit, who leads, guides, directs, cautions, and encourages us. We have fellowship with other believers, and the opportunity to worship God with those believers (which lifts our souls!). That’s not all. God also gave us his word, the Bible, to guide us, to help us, to comfort us!
- Unmerited Grace. (This isn’t officially on a theological list, but it is the essence of our faith.) The clearest, loudest way that God shows us his love is through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. This is so monumental. This is like the biggest announcement-inauguration-parade-celebration-official- declaration of LOVE you can ever find. What does the book of John tell us? That God loved us so much that he gave us his most valuable treasure, his own child, who is also God himself. God went to the point of sacrifice so that we can have access to him, relationship with him. He did this before we even existed. He planned this from the very beginning. Right from the first time that sin came into the world, God made a solution for it. And it wasn’t a solution based on punishment or penance. It is a solution based on God giving EVERYTHING so that we can have a relationship with him because he loves us.
These three types of grace remind me daily, multiple times a day, that God loves me. But wait! There’s more! In the second part of this answer, I’ll write about how I’ve wrestled with similar questions, those questions that go like this: God, if you really, truly love me, if you really want what’s best for me, why in the world am I going through this unbearable experience? Why is this situation in my life so incredibly wrong if you love me? And, spoiler alert!, God has really helpful answers to these very raw and honest questions.