When we question God's character our faith that he cares about us begins to waver. We are drawn away from our first love by the things we think care about us more. The bible becomes an anthology instead of a love letter. God becomes a distant entity whose existence is questionable. Don't get me wrong, God hasn't fallen out of love with us, we are the problem. We are the ones who get bored with God. Our quiet times seem dull, worship services become routine, and our prayers begin to sound robotic. When we begin to display contempt for the things of God it shows in our relationships. Our tempers are shorter, our patience is thin, and our hearts grow cold toward others. The good news is that in respect to our relationship with God the phrase "familiarity breeds contempt" is not absolute. In my opinion the phrase should read "familiarity CAN breed contempt". The original phrase means that the depth of your closeness with others leads to a loss of respect for them. The modified phrase gives you an option. Your closeness can lead to contempt, but it can also lead to admiration and respect. When we seek to go deeper with God and we find his actions in a new passage puzzling, we have a choice. We can close our bibles and emotionally withdraw from God or we can allow the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the truth of the passage.
This happened to me when I read the story of Jephthah's daughter in Judges 11. At first glance it looks like God sanctioned a human sacrifice, and that confused me because it looked like God contradicted himself. For a few days... I stopped reading my bible. I mulled over so many different questions:
Why didn't God allow a goat to meet Jephthah?
Did Jephthah really burn his only daughter alive?
Why didn't God stop him like he stopped Abraham?
Did God not consider her important enough to save?
Needless to say, by the end of the week I was distraught as I went deeper into the rabbit hole. It wasn't until I talked with my husband, conducted my own research, and prayed that I understood what truly took place. Jephthah's daughter wasn't sacrificed by fire, she was dedicated to the Lord and made to serve in the temple instead of living a normal life.
So what do we do when God doesn't make sense?
How do we fall back in love?
1. Ask Questions.
Asking God about passages that confuse you is not sinful. He wants you to talk with Him. Especially when you are confused. By going to God first He will reassure you of his unchanging character, refresh your soul, and calm your spirit. He might lead you to someone in your church who you could talk to. We learn in community.
2. Do research and discover the context.
The internet is an amazing tool for discovering answers to biblical mysteries. One of my personal favorites is gotquestions.org. There are so many commentaries and research papers available to provide context and clarity. Your local library is another great resource.
3. Keep Reading.
Don't let one puzzling story in the bible keep you from reading the rest of it. Go back, reinforce the foundational truths, and memorize those scriptures. God will reveal the answers to your questions as you continue to seek Him. Don't run away.
Tell me about how you fell in love with God in the comments!