Chapter 10, “Experiencing God’s Love” pp. 159-170
In this chapter Bridges draws our attention more particularly to God’s love. Though we are quick to confess a loving God, we often fail to see God’s love as applied to us, particularly when adversity strikes. This is the time we flinch and question whether God is actually on our side. Bridges reminds us that we find assurance of God’s love when we refuse to doubt. As a pastor, my observation is that the doubt and fear will overcome our refusal. What we actually need is a shepherd in Christ who will remind us of God’s incarnational love in Christ. Bridges rightly reminds us to learn to see our circumstances in light of God’s love. Yet I fear that we can only be led to despair through our own attempts. We may well need extra help.
How do we see God’s love? We see it through the fact that he disciplines us. He is conforming us into the image of Christ. And he uses all our circumstances, including those which are painful, to do so. We see the love of God in his promise that he never will fail to love his people. We see God’s love in his provision for us day by day. We see his love in his promise that he is with us every day.
Bridges finally reminds us that we need to learn to trust these promises. I find this disappointing. What about when we fail? Does God provide resources for forgiveness and restoration? Thankfully he does, though Bridges does not detail them. Yet as often as we repent of our mistrust and unbelief, God promises that he will restore us. He provides assurance of this through faithful pastors who will proclaim God’s forgiveness to anguished souls.