When we fall in love with our Abba Father we are compelled by love to do stuff to please Him. This compulsion consumes us. Our desire for more and more of Him drives us into radical obedience and risk taking and an obsessive pursuit of Him. Our metric for success however may be misplaced. When we are willing to do anything to please Him we need to step back and ask ourselves the most important question in the pursuit. Who is pursuing who? In our fallen human wisdom we only understand conditional love. We so want to make someone else happy because we love them. It is a noble thing and a good thing we are doing. But what happens when they don’t like a gift we got them? What happens when they don’t want to spend time with us? What happens when they prefer another person or thing over our affections? It crushes us. We can brush it off in the “it doesn’t bother me” bucket but in that denial it will fester and produce pain and shame and guilt. You begin to believe in your heart that you did something wrong or forgot to do something right or are unloveable. You live deeply hurt in rejection and can’t make it better no matter what you try. This is the love of the world. We can try to ignore it but calloused apathy doesn’t repair the cancer of rejection and jealousy.
When we “try try try” with God to please Him and we are still trapped in our conditional love paradigm we have the same issues. Our measure of success is based on what we perceive as His favor. When things are going well and we feel blessed then we assume that our love efforts are being received. When stuff is bad in our lives we think we have messed up and bought the wrong gift or done a bad thing or failed to perform at the right level. That is where knowing our identity is so important. As his children he loves us beyond our understanding. His favor towards us is limited only in our believing. When we are working and performing for His favor we are actually inhibiting an opportunity to receive His favor. His anointing and blessing is continuous based on his nature not ours. We have to “press in” not to please Him and therefore receive more. We press into the places of our unbelief to be transformed in our thinking so we can position ourselves to receive what is already available. He is that good and loves us that much.
Still it can feel like nothing is happening. It can feel like we aren’t seeing breakthrough in our relationship. It can feel like we are more lonely with Him when we know we should feel more accepted. Some would say “don’t live by feelings.” That is good for the emotional giants of superior maturity, but for us little people we actually chose to feel our way through life. To step out of emotion is no better than our unhealthy response to rejection. I chose to feel. I chose to feel love. I chose to experience being loved. Sorry if that doesn’t work for some and sets up others for deception. I know my father and he won’t leave me or forsake me. I know He will keep me from the enemy. So now the roller coaster is my choice. It’s OK. I have learned so much and have grown so close to him on this ride. I know that I know that He loves me. I know that I know He accepts me for exactly who I am regardless of blemish. I know that His desire above all else is for me to mature in who I am in Him. This is becoming Jesus.
This roller coaster existence sometimes results in frustration. I feel like I am doing all the right things but I am not seeing breakthrough. I still am challenged with some hang up or some wrong response. For you it may be anger or habits or addictions. If you are like me your desire to please is so strong that you find yourself pressing in harder and harder to “move God” for your breakthrough. Invariably I hit a wall. It hurts. My frustration begins to dominate my thoughts and I am ready to just give up. That is when He shows up every time. When I get to the place where I want to quit trying any more, Jesus is always there to meet me. He takes over and finishes what I could never accomplish in my own effort. This deep sorrow comes over me as I realize how I had been working against him instead of in Him. I have come to love these Godly sorrow moments. I feel so close to him as he picks me up and reminds me of how much He loves me. He tells me how proud he is. He shows me such tender loving kindness and patience. It is completely devoid of shame or guilt or any other death-smelling junk. It is just him and his acceptance of me. I believe this is what Paul is talking about here:
2 Cor 7:10 For grief that is for God’s sake produces a remorse of the soul which does not reverse itself and restores to life, but the grief of the world produces death. (Aramaic in Plain English)
The same word for remorse or sorrow is used here as grieved:
Matt 17:22 And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; 23 and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved. (NASB)
This is what Peter experienced when Jesus asked him the third time if Peter loved Him. Peter had denied Jesus three times and Jesus gave him the opportunity to confess his love three times. Peter isn’t ashamed. He sees the heart of Jesus who is patient enough to bring Peter healing.
John 21:17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
Sometimes this internal striving to please can be such a struggle, but each time I grow in patience and wisdom. Well it is like this passage:
Rom 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
This is the Greek word for “sufferings:”
thlípsis – properly, pressure (what constricts or rubs together), used of a narrow place that “hems someone in”; tribulation, especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined (restricted, “without options”).
I wouldn’t trade my Godly sorrow experiences for anything. They are the best moments. They are my surrender moments. They are my wisdom moments. Maybe someday there will be no more need for detours into the Godly sorrow place. Maybe there is a time when we are all so completely surrendered to God that we don’t experience the pressure of trying to please or the frustration of His timing. I do believe it is where we are headed. I believe this is how Jesus walked the planet. I believe this is what it means to be transformed into the image of Christ, completely surrendered and consumed by His life.
Oh by the way when you discover His love and acceptance for you then you can love others the way He loves you. You may be hurt by rejection. You may feel the pain of a one-sided relationship, but it doesn’t define you, He does. His love for you is who you are. He is that good.