March 7, 2016

Jesus loves me, this I know

Yesterday a friend suggested that I was too worried about the situation that is distressing me. She said, “Let it go.” She had the right idea, yet letting go, at least for me, requires a foundation. On what basis can I drop the problem?

It can be taken to Jesus, which I was already doing, but the burden would not leave me. It can be pushed aside by busyness, likely to produce ulcers. It can be dismissed as unimportant, which would calcify my heart. Nothing was giving me comfort. Maybe wanting comfort is selfish? Maybe this is a burden that God wants me to carry so that I will keep praying?

Today’s devotional verses and thoughts give me encouragement and something that lightens the load . . . 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:35–37)

Chambers says that while nothing can wedge in between the love of God and His people, things can mess up my fellowship with God. When that happens, it is almost always related to the original lie of the serpent in Eden. In essence, he suggested to Eve that God didn’t love her and didn’t want the best for her.

That lie hangs itself on my burden. The enemy suggests to me that God’s love isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. He isn’t interested in His people, His plans are more important than our feelings . . . yada, yada. Thinking this way puts dread in my heart for the future of someone I love — when I should have hopeful expectation.

For that person, for myself, the foundation of our faith is the unmerited love of God exhibited on the Cross of Calvary. We don’t deserve it and we cannot earn it. Love is the very nature of God. He is the reason we are more than conquerors, no matter what comes at us. The fact is that we would not even realize that we are victorious against these things unless they made their overthrow attempts. It is in facing overwhelming odds that we find out the power of God’s love to give us victory.

 . . . The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5–7)

How can there be peace, even joy, in difficult distresses? Successful risk-takers know it. Those who jump on a wild horse and ride the beast know the joy of it. Surfers who ride that gigantic wave through to the end also know the joy of it. It makes sense that staying in a safe place means not knowing or realizing that the peace of God is possible even in the midst of tribulation, distress, persecution, and danger.

Chambers says we should not fight to remove our distresses — because in Christ we are more than conquerors in those distresses, not in spite of them, but in the middle, in the experience. I do not know the joy of the Lord in spite of burdens, but because of them. Paul said, “. . . In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.” (2 Corinthians 7:4)

After saying, “Let it go,” my friend said that the same God that loves me and wants what is best for me also loves the person I’m concerned about and wants the best for that person. In essence, she was saying that I need to pray, but more than prayer, I also must remember that God loves us. His love cannot be altered or removed in the experiences of life, monotonous or horrendous, ease or trials, nor when the devil says otherwise.

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