Have you ever wanted something so bad that there was absolutely no price that was too high for it? Perhaps, you’ve even sold your soul for it. Maybe it’s resulted in broken relationships, loss of trust, or whatever else is deemed to be valuable. Is that kind of desire possible with God as the object? Can I ever love God so much that I would do anything for him?
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:25-26). Interestingly enough, some ancient dude named Asaph wrote this line in the midst of heavy suffering. How many of us can genuinely state the same when the world around us seems to be crumbling?
Another relevant question is this: if God is all-powerful, but I am currently suffering the loss of my child in a car accident (or some other tragic situation), how do I continue to love God and desire him above all else? Because at that moment, I am probably desiring my kid back more than anything else in the world. Sure, it’s easy to “love God” when I’ve gotten a raise or promotion at work, or the night before my wedding day, or some other happy occasion, but when something tragic happens to me, how do I love God?
It seems to me that often times, God allows trials to happen to us for precisely that reason: that we would remember that he is the strength of our hearts–not our romantic partner, not our kids, not our houses, not our jobs, not our bank account, not our trophies, not anything else but him. God, being the highest good in all the universe, does not want divided hearts–he wants undivided hearts that follow him. So for someone who is a child of God, it seems that trials have an innate built-in feature that makes us want him more, and not just his material provision (although the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive). It seems that these, perhaps in a secondary way, serve as reminders that everything else is temporary and fleeting, in comparison to a saving relationship with God Almighty.
So how do we love God in the midst of suffering? Desire him above the source of our suffering. Certainly, it’s impossible on our own, but with God, all things are possible (you’ve heard that before right?). So when faced with suffering, ask God for a greater desire for him. We don’t have to be declaring from the mountain-tops that we love God; loving God in trial is simply desiring God himself, not only his provisions.