I don’t remember waking up from my thyroid removal surgery last month.
I’d been told I probably had cancer and that my thyroid needed to go. I had a few weeks to prepare and worry and wait for the knife. And then, I was under.
According to my sources, waking up was rough. I was crying. I’m told I was crying quite a lot. I was reportedly trying to rip the tubes out of my neck. And I was asking the same four questions over and over in a weird, sad loop.
“Do I have a neck scar? (Sob) How big is it?” (Sob) “Where’s my family? (Bigger sob) Does anybody love me?” (Repeat)
Yep. When everything in my head and heart was swirling around from the anesthesia, the question I asked over and over again, out loud, was “does anybody love me?”
By the way, I don’t have cancer. I do have a neck scar. And it is a little over two inches long. : )
Does Anybody Love Me?
Here’s the thing. I went into surgery surrounded by eight family members who love me. More importantly, I know that God is love (1 John 4:8). I know He proved it on the cross. But sometimes knowing is a far cry from feeling. Sometimes believing feels a lot like not believing.
As I begged God for healing the months the doctors searched for answers, I fell deeper into suffering and it made me wonder just how loved I really was. Or why God was loving me in a way that felt so harsh.
Do I have cancer, or don’t I? Will I ever feel better? Does anybody really love me?
I have frequently struggled with doubting how God feels about me. I don’t think it’s just me. Why do we do this? Why are our hearts so prone to project rejection? Why are we so quick to bite the fruit of unbelief in the goodness of God? This happens to me, most frequently, when in the midst of my own suffering or when witnessing the suffering of people I love. My heart and mind wrestle with the faith I’ve built my whole life on.
Does anybody really love me? Does God know this is happening? Does God care about how much I care about the problems everybody seems to see but Him?
But, no offense, self; I think you might be asking the wrong question.
God Is Bigger Than Doubt
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” – Romans 11:33-36
There’s a better question than the ones I was asking. “Who has known the mind of God?” No one. By default, there must be things He understands that I don’t understand, such as how His love is loving even when life isn’t the way I want it.
I like how Barnabas Piper writes about faith and doubt in his book, Help My Unbelief. He writes:
God is infinite. While the finite human mind can understand aspects of His character, even those cannot be understood in full. His bigness is too big, His goodness too good, His wrath too terrible, His grace too profound, His knowledge too deep. Because of this, God is inherently mysterious to us. We simply cannot fathom the fullness, or even a portion of the fullness, of who He is or what He does.
When I remember that and pursue that, my wounds and hidden pains and existential questions are replaced with awe and gratitude and worship.
So, how does a heart move from “does anybody love me” to “WOW, am I loved!”
Love That Overpowers Doubt
At one point in my wrestling, I asked God if anybody really loved anybody. Then the Spirit brought this sentence to mind.
“…We love because He first loved us…” – 1 John 4:19
I couldn’t remember where that was in the Bible, so I googled it, and read in awe, familiar words that my mind had obviously held onto, even when my heart had forgotten. Don’t skip over these…
“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God…God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only son into the world so that we might live through him…” – 1 John 4:7-9
Love is a supernatural thing. And God’s love is revealed in the most supernatural way—through the birth and life and death of Jesus. That work is already finished, and so it is true even when we worry it’s not. Our doubting and wondering doesn’t affect God’s being and loving.
So, will we always doubt that we’re loved? Maybe? But will we always be loved? Yes.