The love of God has been something that I have wrestled with much for the past two years since the death of Hannah. As such, I have wrestled with the understanding that is prevalent within the Church in the West, namely, that the sign of God’s love and favor upon a person is displayed by their life unfolding as the person desires and prays for. I such a place the love of God feels like pulling flower petals asking if He loves me or if He loves me not. This is something that I have always understood to be something akin to a theology of ‘prosperity-gospel lite’ and yet, I have come to be in the middle of it I am wrestling with the love of God towards me. I have read over and again the words of C.S. Lewis, “We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accept it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” And it is now for me through the clouds of my suffering that I am trying to look through in hope of seeing the sun of God’s love.
Through this season I have found two primary ways to expand, and at times to even have, a working and relational knowledge of God’s love for and towards me. The first lay within the meditation on the laments of Scripture. Through the Psalms and the lament of Jeremiah, I have found words that resound with my own soul, yet unlike so many of my own cries, these portions of Holy Writ lead me away from the depression and doubt that can come so easily to me. In allowing these inspired words to be a guide to me I have been able to cry out with Jeremiah, even in the darkest of times, “But this I call to mind…” Or pray with the psalmist “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation’…Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in His salvation” when I lack any words of my own.
This has led to the second way in which I have been able to trust and rest in God’s love. And that is an understanding of what my salvation means. I can remember speaking with someone on a graveyard bench looking out on Hannah’s grave and being asked, “How can you still believe that God loves you after all of this?” I answered that if all I considered when wrestling with such a question was my 32 years on the celestial rock I would bellow out that He does not. Yet as a Christian, I am not allowed to have those parameters when considering such a great question. I must hold in my mind, as best I can, the working of God in eternity past when He predestined me to become His though I have often shown myself to be an enemy and traitor to the White Throne. It must then move past where I sit now to the promise that I shall be raised again on the last day, the day when Christ finally is allowed to destroy His last enemy, where I shall be given a new body that shall never know the suffering of the broken world and I shall be free from the pain of so often being pulled towards false gods and drinking from poisoned cisterns.
It is this second thing which has kept me in the love of God, and has kept me in a place where I am able to say with any sincerity that I love Him. To come back to the text of this meditation, it is through this looking forward to the promised hope of Home that I have been able to know and believe the love of God for and towards me. In this life, it can often seem as if God loves me less than He loves others, and that is on the days that He loves me at all. Yet, when I am able to center myself and focus upon the truth that in this life I am not but a sojourner traveling through a land that is not mine I can rest in the love of my King. For though I stand now on the stormy banks of Jordan I know that I shall arrive to Canaan’s fair and happy land where my beloved lies and there I shall dwell in that elder place than Eden and will be welcomed into that taller town than Rome.
So often, it is the shortsightedness that we all share that causes us to doubt the love that God has for us. It is what so often causes me to do so. When we forget that this life is but a vapor, that our lives are like the wildflowers that shoot up in the spring only to wilt in the summer sun. There are seasons in which the love of God is clear and apparent in this life, seasons to be treasured and thankful for. Yet we are all a single phone call from the worst day of our lives…even on the best day of our lives. As such, any hope anchored in this life will eventually break and leave us adrift in the storms of life. It is the anchor of eternity which holds us to the love of God. For that is the scope of such love. A love that sees us now seated before the Throne of Grace, a love that elected us to be set apart when all of our sins were still future sins, a love that saw us at our worst and called us to a place higher than the angels who have never known the rebellion that comes to us so easily, a love that has sealed us for the fulfillment of our salvation in a city where God shall dwell with us uncovered by the darkness which hid Him on Sinai.
So no matter how dark the days, we are promised a future where there shall be no need of sun or moon for God Himself shall be our light. Not because of how good we have been, in fact I think that most of those who believe such a thing has anything to do with this shall never see that light, but such light with be due to love unmerited. Such love that knows no bounds, a love that shall lead us to understand all those things which keep us up at night and lead us to soak our sheets in tears at night. A love which will fully and forever heal all the wounds we now try to pretend are not as bad as they actually are. A love who will sit with us until we know fully as we are fully known and make everything sad become untrue.