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I Thought You Liked Me

We can get more than a little mixed up as to how much God “likes” us when we go through tough times. Lori Closter guides us forward.


I Thought You Liked Me

Lori Closter

At four or five, my youngest daughter was adorable. At least her dad and I thought so, and so did her big sis. They were inseparable. One day our youngest did something so unintentionally hilarious that my older daughter and I were laughing hysterically. Our littlest looked at her sis with wounded eyes and said plaintively, “Why are you laughing? I thought you liked me!” Which made us laugh harder, and her sister, gasping, tried to explain ...

I remember my daughter’s sense of exasperation when I’m feeling frustrated with the hard times that have come in the midst of the joys of life. “I thought you liked me,” I want to say to God. “Why would you give me so many years of affliction?”

“God,” I thought you said, “I will heal you.” You can ... but will you? Even in the midst of struggles, I’ve published my faith-based young adult novel, and feel called to share it and our testimony with young people. Still, I’m navigating trials (again) too numerous to recount. One day God even allowed a giant cement truck to block my entire driveway, humorously confirming my sense of being stuck in concrete.

I’m not alone in feeling pain. Friends who follow God have died, lost spouses, endured sick children, or battled cancer.

What do we make of this? How do we handle being children of a God who allows this? Does he really understand what we’re going through?

I dug into Scripture, seeking purposes for our trials, and found several already familiar to me. For instance, he may intend to display his works and glorify himself, as when Jesus anointed the eyes of a man blind from birth and gave him sight (Jn 9:3). He may want to teach us his ways and statutes through affliction (Ps 119:71). Or, he wants us to seek him for refuge and comfort (Ps 56, many others).

But another possible, deeper purpose for our trials was freshly revealed to me, as if for the first time. It is more complex, with two facets: to share Jesus’ sufferings and through them, to know him.

Scripture affirms the oneness of Jesus and his children; we are part of his body, the branches of his vine. But there’s a qualifier for our future glorification through his resurrection. We are “... fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8:17) Paul also wrote, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake ...” (Phil 1:29)

Granted? Like a favor? Sharing his suffering is part of his plan ... but why?

Consider this. Paul asserts, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil 3:7-8) Also, “... that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (vv10-ll) Attaining resurrection is the ultimate goal. The gift of the Crucifixion was free. Jesus atoned for our sins willingly; our job is only to accept his sacrifice. But again Paul speaks of knowing him, in context with sharing his sufferings.

I believe Jesus also wants this as well, for both our sakes. Through our very hardships, we come to understand his suffering on the cross, and what he sacrificed for us. They are a gift, meant not only to keep us on track, but to open our eyes to know him better. Through our trials, we gain fellowship with the Lord Jesus, through whom all things were made and all things are possible.

Wow. Yes, trials are hard. But someday we’ll understand all the why’s, and it will be worth it. In the meantime, they bring us closer to God. And the more we humble ourselves before him, the more we are conformed to his image and can share his love with others.

“I thought you liked me”? Indeed, he does!

Lori Closter writes to give people hope and faith through stories. A native New Yorker recently moved to coastal NC, early on she was writer/assistant producer on an educational film series for National Geographic. Her contemporary, coming-to-faith Young Adult novel Topping the Willow was released in October. She is now seeking a producer for her screenplay version, a past Kairos Prize finalist. Learn more at, or connect with Lori on Facebook, @lori_closter on Instagram, or LinkedIn.


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