By Billy Graham
Some see God as a harsh father, waiting to punish His children when they do something wrong. Others perceive God as unable to handle the evil on earth, or indifferent to the suffering caused by it.
God’s love is unchangeable; He knows exactly what we are and loves us anyway. In fact, he created us because He wanted other creatures in His image upon whom He could pour out His love and who would love Him in return. He also wanted that love to be voluntary, not forced, so He gave us freedom of choice, the ability to say yes or no in our relationship to Him. God does not want mechanized love, the kind that says we must love God because it’s what our parents demand or our church preaches. Only voluntary love satisfies the heart of God.
Years ago a friend of mine was standing on top of a mountain in North Carolina and noticed two cars in the distance heading toward each other on a dangerously winding road. He realized neither driver could see the other car approaching. With horror, he watched a third car pull up and begin to pass one of the cars as all three entered a blind curve. My friend shouted a warning, even though he knew he couldn’t be heard. The crash was fatal and several were killed. The man standing on the mountain saw it all.
God is a God of love, and He is not blind to man’s plight. He doesn’t stand on a mountaintop, viewing the wrecks in our lives, without shouting a warning. Since man caused his own crash by his rebellion against the Creator, God could have allowed him to plunge into destruction.
From the very beginning of man’s journey, God had a plan for man’s deliverance. In fact, the plan is so fantastic that it ultimately lifts each man who will accept His plan far above even the angels. God’s all-consuming love for mankind was decisively demonstrated at the cross, where His compassion was embodied in His Son, Jesus Christ. The word compassion comes from two Latin words meaning “to suffer with.” God was willing to suffer with man.
In His 33 years on earth, Jesus suffered with man; on the cross He suffered for man. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19). An important verse to memorize is: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
God’s love did not begin at the cross. It began in eternity before the world was established, before the time clock of civilization began to move. The concept stretches our minds to their utmost limits.
Can you imagine what God was planning when the earth was “without form and void?” There was only a deep, silent darkness of outer space that formed a vast gulf before the brilliance of God’s throne. God was designing the mountains and the seas, the flowers and the animals. He was planning the bodies of His children and all their complex parts.
How could creation be by chance?
Even before the first dawn, He knew all that would happen. In His mysterious love He allowed it. The Bible tells us about the “Lamb that was slain for the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). God foresaw what His Son was to suffer. It has been said there was a cross in the heart of God long before the cross was erected at Calvary. As we think about it we will be overwhelmed at the wonder and greatness of His love for us.
Excerpted from Billy Graham’s book, Hope for the Troubled Heart, 1991.