The Bible describes God as being both loving and jealous, but doesn’t that seem confusing? How can he be both?
This puzzled me, too. Yet, when I went through a big upheaval in my life, I came to understand God has both these attributes and he is still perfect.
It began some years ago. I stared out the car window at my new surroundings. Despondency swept over me. Bare trees, with stark grey branches, stood like ghosts beside the highway. Colorless grass, dormant from a long winter, covered the ground. This bleak Massachusetts landscape would be my new home. How could a place be so desolate in the spring? I wondered.
Eight hours earlier I had been in a city where white cherry and pink apple blossoms smothered the trees in our garden and buds burst forth from bushes and shrubs announcing spring.
We turned off the road into a business park and arrived at a plain-looking building. I immediately hated the drab, gloomy rooms of our hotel suite. It was nothing like our bright sunlit house in London, splashed with a blaze of color from flowers celebrating the birth of our baby, and my first ever Mother’s Day.
I had entered a wilderness and I was miserable.
I protested to my husband as he started his new job. I complained to my family and grumbled to my friends by phone for weeks, months and years to follow.
Eventually I directed my fears and struggles to God and I learned something about my heavenly Father I had not known before.
God, whose name is Consuming Fire, had not ruined my life by bringing me into what appeared an inhospitable place. I could have blamed him for the loneliness I felt with friends and family three thousand miles away. I could have resented him for having to leave the career I loved so much.
I could have seen God, whose name is Jealous, in the same way I see myself when jealous over a person I love. I become suspicious. I mistrust and read malice into innocent situations. I sense betrayal and get angry. I may not openly accuse the other person of offences I think they have committed, but I will say and do things to hurt them.
Yet, God doesn’t behave like we do when jealous. God doesn’t want to destroy our lives. He wants to restore life for us.
My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life, says John 10:10 NLT
God is jealous when we worship our work, other people, and our homes more than him. And these were my idols. I had gradually left God out of daily activities. I had stopped making him Lord of my life because I adored my job, cherished my career, and valued my friends and social life instead.
God doesn’t bring us into the wilderness to punish us, but to save us.
In the desert he cares for us, watches over us, and waits for us to turn to him. It’s there I turned my attention to him.
Then I understood how love and jealousy can be perfect. God who loves us so much will do anything—even give up his own Son—to have us for himself so he can give us a fruitful and full life.
As Wendy Blight explains in her book I Know His Name, God is jealous for us. God’s jealousy is never an unhealthy or destructive thing.
God doesn’t want your life to go to waste. If you feel you are in the wasteland, know your heavenly Father is eager to give you a life where you can flourish, you only need to turn to him.