Unrest is thick today. It has been for months now. Everyone I talk with feels it. The atmosphere is tense; no words are necessary. For some the tension looks like pit-of-the-stomach anxiety; for some it’s outlined with jagged edges of anger. Personally, I’m bumping into my lifelong nemesis – depression. It hasn’t overcome me, but I feel it lurking in shadows.
So I do all the things I know are good to do in an effort to fend off the underlying feeling of hopelessness: Pray, listen to encouraging podcasts, read the Bible, go to church (finally in person again!), share with my husband and other trusted friends, get outside in creation, exercise, take vitamins, listen to music, remember what is true. And it all helps. A little.
But just as with most things in life, there is no sure-fire formula. Oh how I wish things of the soul were as simple as 2+2=4! I wish that filling my head with what I know is true would always result in a heart and emotions that feel what is true. This disconnect often furthers my frustration. I should know better so therefore I should feel better. As if there’s not enough to be frustrated about in the world right now!
All this has hindered me from writing anything to post on my blog for the past several months. I want to offer you something – some bit of hope or wisdom or advice – as you too navigate these murky times. But I’ve been lost and confused myself. Nothing to give.
I can’t offer you medical advice about masks and viruses and vaccines. My understanding and answers for the current race struggles are incomplete. I can’t offer you a job or, once again, even hospitality!
But, I HAVE received something I want to pass along to you.
One message has quietly woven itself through the sermons, books, songs, conversations, and thoughts I’ve had of late. It’s a message that has brought me to tears nearly every time I let it sink into my heart. It is the message of God’s great love. The message of my identity as one beloved by God.
It’s a simple message and one that’s often cliche, (think bumper-stickers and posters declaring ‘Smile, God loves you’). As if that should just magically make everything better. But it doesn’t. But, then again, it does.
We still live in this messed up world of heartache and downright evil.
Love Himself hasn’t retreated, even though I would choose to escape if I could.
Love Himself is enduring hatred and rejection, even though I want run and hide.
Love Himself is patiently longing for more souls to be swept up into His reality – even though I want to say ‘enough’ and unleash my righteous indignation.
Love Himself is offering His all to any who will receive.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father … that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man … that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.Ephesians 3:14-19
It is no small thing, this love the Apostle Paul writes about. A love that surpasses understanding. Maybe that’s why we, I, brush it off so cavalierly sometimes: God’s love is beyond our comprehension. These moments of tears I’ve been experiencing when I hear the message of God’s love are surely an answer to this prayer of Paul’s two thousand years ago. In those moments the Holy Spirit is making known in the depths of my heart what is true about God’s vast love for me. What peace and comfort such moments bring!
I don’t have a formula for how you can have this experience too, but what I can offer is an echo of Paul’s prayer for you ~
Lord, we need your love. Our ideas of love are so skewed and lacking that hearing that You love us almost carries no meaning. But our lack doesn’t change the truth, and depth and height of Your unknowable love for us. You are able to do abundantly more than we ask, so I ask You, Father, help us understand the unfathomable greatness and life-changing permeation of Your love. Help us to receive and rest in You alone so we can face this fallen world with assurance and hope. Amen.
Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.
Frederick M. Lehman
God’s love for you and me is not an underhanded love; He doesn’t use it to manipulate us into doing this or that. He never threatens to remove it, no matter how vehemently we refuse it. Deeper than the foundation of a skyscraper, His love is rooted in our souls.