God’s love doesn’t always look like what we think it should. It is often masked as pain, trials, and unexpected twists and turns.

I think back to where I was just a few months ago…..belting out “Losing My Religion” in the kitchen. It was just me and Michael Stipe, as I was certain God wasn’t going to come through this time. Discouraged and down-trodden, I felt my faith slipping away as my all too conditional love for Christ showed its true colors. And yet in my selfishness and doubt, His love poured out once again.

Our family has walked through the valley. In the last ten years, we’ve experienced the death of a child, loss of employment, betrayal, loss of friendship, financial hardship, and a host of unexpected deviations from OUR plan. The thing is, it’s not about our plan….and thank the good Lord for that. As I think back through my life and consider each trial and loss I’ve faced, I can see the hand of God in each situation. At the time, it was hard to understand what was happening and why, but God knew better. His love was leading me. He knew exactly what I needed. Unrecognizable at times, but always present.

But God’s love never fails….even when we do. Even when we walk away or write God off, He remains.

2000 years ago, God’s love was poured out in a cataclysmic way. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t a path anyone would have chosen to take. Only a few in the crowd that day even recognized the act as one of love. On this day, Jesus died – nailed to a cross, as he took the weight of the world’s sins upon Him. MY sins. Yours. Pure love.

It didn’t look like love. Christ’s disciples and early Christians were torn apart. How could God allow this to happen? Why is God letting Jesus die? Doesn’t God know what I need? Doesn’t He care about what is best for me?

When we are walking through trials, we’re so quick to assume that God has abandoned us. When His plan and ours don’t line up, we’re ready to throw in the towel and walk away from our Santa Claus faith. We’ll show up on Sundays, crack our Bible a few times a month, say a cursory prayer before dinner, and maybe post a faith-ish meme on Facebook IF God will do what we want Him to. When God doesn’t bend to our will and give us our laundry list of desires and dreams we write Him off. God is dead. Faith is for the weak.

But God’s love never fails….even when we do. Even when we walk away or write God off, He remains.

What seemed like the absolute worst case scenario turned into the most incredible, life-changing, earth-shattering event. Jesus was beaten, mocked, and nailed to a cross. His closest friends abandoned Him. His body was put through a gruesome and excruciating death. He felt the weight of our sins and died in our place. But the story doesn’t end there. God had a plan. God’s love was bigger than the trial. His love reached further than the events of Good Friday. Jesus rose from the dead. If Christ hadn’t died on the cross, our salvation wouldn’t be possible. Heaven could never be reached. My faith would not exist. He changed the world.

Your story doesn’t end with today. In the wake of your trial and the hardships you are facing, remember the love of Jesus. He will never abandon you. What you’re facing may not look like love. You may not understand the “why” of what you’re facing. Before you begin to lose your religion, remember that Jesus didn’t remain on that cross…..He rose! There is purpose behind your pain and an unchanging God with unmatched love for you.

He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. He bled and died for you, and loves you unconditionally and without fail. God’s love never fails….even when we do. Even when we walk away or write God off, He remains.