Struggles can make us doubt God’s goodness. In those times we must stand on the truth and lean into love.
By Robin Bertram
PUTTING EMOTIONS INTO ACTION
As I stood in my church during praise and worship, I turned and looked behind me and saw a group of small children, all from one family, singing as loudly as they could. I thought to myself, “That must be what love sounds like.” My son came into my house one day, and I had his favorite pot of soup on the stove. He turned and looked at me with the sweetest smile of contentment, and I thought to myself, “That must be what love smells like.” My little granddaughter was visiting and my husband, Ken, picked her up. She grabbed his face with her tiny little hands, and I thought to myself, “That must be what love feels like.”
You might recall the childhood song “Jesus Loves Me.” You may have sung it in Sunday school, but do you believe it? I have ministered to people from all walks of life, and when you get real personal with someone, he or she will often share his or her deepest, most concealed thoughts. When trials and tribulations come, it is not uncommon to get mad at God, feel like he really does not love you, or even deny that he exists. Crisis may cause you to ask questions:
• Where are You, God? Why I am going through all this? Why are You allowing this to happen to me?
• I serve You, yet why am I struggling?
• Why is my family falling apart?
• Why am I facing this disease?
• Why is my child dying?
Are you or a loved one struggling with any of these questions?
In my own personal darkness, there were times when I cried out to God and asked these very questions, and I learned that it is at times like these that we have to stand on the truth of Scripture. We can’t go by our feelings. Our feelings will lie to us. Our feelings will say, “I told you he didn’t love you.” We have to accept what has been written, trust in it and guide our thoughts accordingly, not by how we feel, but on what is written. What if you do not believe what is written? Bow your head and ask God to make himself real to you. Here and now, he will.
“If I say, ‘For sure the darkness will cover me and the light around me will be night,’ even the darkness is not too dark to you. And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” —Ps. 139:11–12
The long and short of it is that we do live in a fallen world. We do live in physical bodies that are affected by environment, genetics, certain susceptibilities and so on. Sin introduced sickness and disease. God is our loving Father who will either heal us or help us through it. There are some things we can never know while we are here in this body, and we won’t know the why until we get to heaven. What we do know is that God is sovereign. He loves us because he is our Creator and Father. Peace comes when we truly know how much he loves us.
GOD LOVES YOU
Do you believe that God loves you?
We cannot know the fullness of God’s love until we first know God. While we were lost, living a life that was displeasing to God, he still loved us and wanted the best for us. How do I know that for sure? Because the Bible tells me that Jesus died for me while I was still a sinner separated from God. God gave his Son as a payment for our sins: yours and mine. Can you imagine that kind of love? It is difficult for us to understand, but all sin has a cost, and God was willing to sacrifice Jesus on a cross, shedding his precious blood to pay the penalty for our sins once and for all. It is through that decision that we can come to God and experience his love.
“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” —Matt. 22:37–39
Love God. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. To love God is to keep his commandments. To love God with a genuine love is to abhor evil and hold fast to what is good. To know God is to receive his love. When you or a loved one are going through a difficult time or have been diagnosed with a debilitating, long-term or potentially fatal disease, when you are in the midst of utter darkness, the most important thing needed is an overwhelming sense of love and compassion from God, from family and from friends.
In support of those who are struggling, it’s imperative to make an effort to spend time with them. Hold their hand, rub their back or read a book to them. It’s minimizing stress and giving encouragement. It’s bringing a small gift or sending a card. It’s making a telephone call regularly when you cannot be there personally. Love will help you or your loved one fight through the battle. It is more than merely saying the words; it is putting emotions into action.
LEAD IN LOVE
Now is the time for everyone in the family to come together. Someone needs to lead the way, especially when there is division. Take that step. Make those calls. Tell family members to let bygones be bygones. There is no time for selfishness, pride or a need to be proven right from old disputes. Proof is in your actions, not your words. Surround your loved one with great love. Love can keep you moving forward and not giving up.
I once sat by the hospital bed of a man who had been very ill for a number of years. He was determined to fight because he had a wife and four beautiful children whom he wanted to take care of. He suffered greatly but could not let go of life. The love he had for his family was stronger than the disease that racked his body. His precious wife looked into his eyes and told him she and the children would be fine and that he could go be with Jesus. He gently nodded, took his last breath, and entered the gates of heaven. Love expressed at those moments creates treasures that will impact everyone involved. These lingering moments of joy will resound long after a loved one is gone. We surrounded his hospital bed and sang beautiful old hymns of praise. A servant had gone home.
Excerpted from Hidden Treasures: Finding Hope at the End of Life’s Journey. Copyright © 2018 by Abingdon Press. All rights reserved.