Image of elephant by laurent marx from Pixabay

Have you ever been shocked to find out that things which look nothing alike are actually closely related?

I know two men who are brothers, but who don’t resemble one another at all. One takes after his father with his dark, curly hair; the other has his mother’s straight blond hair. You would never take them for siblings by just looking at them.

It’s the same in the natural world, too. There are some plants which surprisingly belong to the same family, despite looking totally different. Broccoli and cabbages, for instance, which are both Brassicas. It’s hard to believe from their appearance that they have common roots, so to speak.

This disparity is even more evident in the animal world.

Surprisingly, jellyfish and corals are related, even though one swims like a fish and the other is fixed in place like a plant. They’re both members of the Cnidarian family.

Horseshoe crabs are actually more closely related to spiders than to other crabs, despite there seeming to be no family resemblance at all.

Image of manatee by PublicDomainImages from Pixabay

Elephants and manatees are kin, even though one lives on land and the other underwater.

I think the love of God follows this same pattern at times.

Sometimes His love looks nothing like what we would expect, so we don’t recognize certain circumstances as reflecting God working in our lives for our good.

We often believe the love of God looks only like blessings or favour, like things going well for us in life. And certainly, these are some of the ways God shows His love for us.

At other times, however, God’s love may look like hardship, discipline or difficulties. It may seem to have no family resemblance to what we think of as His blessing on our lives.

But it’s His love nonetheless. He is still working in our lives even when His love looks like unwelcome circumstances.

Let me give you an example:

Let’s assume I’m driving my car much too fast and am pulled over by the police. I’m then given a ticket and a fine for breaking the speed limit.

I may get in a funk or a snit over getting caught. I may moan and groan about having to pay a fine. I may think God could have spared me all this.

But being pulled over is actually evidence of God working in my life.

Image by US National Archives, Public Domain

God loves me too much to let me think I can flout the law with impunity and put others on the road in danger.

God’s love for me on that day may look like a speeding ticket.

And I should be grateful for that, because it shows God is treating me like His beloved child.

Hebrews 12:6 tells us that God disciplines those he loves, and chastens everyone He accepts as sons or daughters.

It goes on to say:

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:7-11)

Sometimes the love of God takes a different form than what we expect or even want.

But we can trust that He is always working for our good, blessing us with favour at some times, disciplining us firmly at others, to the end that we conform ever more closely to the image of His Son Jesus.

God always loves you, even when His love seems to be in disguise!

© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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