Saturday, December 27, 2014

Love Hurts

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

It seems to be widely accepted that love is a good feeling between two people that makes both parties feel good, and that if those good feelings turn bad consistently, then they have “fallen out of love.”  This ignores an important truth that we don’t want to accept:  love hurts.  I am not referring only to grief at the loss of one you have loved, but of the everyday “betrayals,” if you will.  Love is when we esteem the other person more than ourselves, and we often fall a bit short of that as our focus turns inward upon ourselves more than the other person.  We place our own selves on the throne of our heart rather than Christ, and subsequently, others.  We sin against one another and against God.

No human can have a relationship without sinning against the one with whom they have the relationship… except that One did.  True love does exist, and it exists in the person of Jesus Christ.  He is the only human to have never sinned, and will be the only one until His second coming, when His children “…will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4ff)

Christ, in His true love, unceasingly forgave those around Him.  Ultimately, He paid the price for all of His children’s sins, that we might have fellowship with Him.  We, too, in our love for one another, must forgive those we love of the sins committed against us - even should it be the “…seventy times seven” that Christ speaks of in Matthew 18:22.  Else we are not loving the other person - esteeming them higher than ourselves - and nor can we partake of the joyous part of love.  

When we wallow in the part of love that hurts because of sin, then we have become discontent.  It is not that we have “fallen out of love,” but that we have decided - have chosen - to put ourselves higher than the other person.  Christ always gives the option of repentance of this, even though the rest of mankind often finds this more difficult than they care to accept.

Love from God - His perfect love that casts out fear (1 John 4:18) - can even hurt, because we are sinful.  “Whom the Lord loves, He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:12)  Reproof, or discipline, hurts.  Yet God does it because He loves us.  We don’t want to hurt, and I, at least, can idolize that desire.  I lose sight of God and His love.  I lose sight of His grace.

Yes, even Pain, and the fact that love hurts, are gifts of His grace.  If His love didn’t hurt - if He didn’t reprove us - we wouldn’t grow in our sinful environment.  If we humans didn’t hurt one another in our sins, we wouldn’t recognize the filth of our sins.  Christ’s light shines all the brighter amid the background of our evil.  Christ’s love can surpass that evil in us, though.  He gives us the choice every time a loved one sins against us to forgive.  It can hurt to forgive, too… but it is also healing.

Yes, love hurts, and we hurt… but it will not always be so.  Christ will return, and when He does, He will call His own to Himself and “He who began a good work in you” (Philippians 1:6b) will complete His perfection in you.

I am thankful that love hurts now, in God’s wisdom.  I am thankful to be able to see my sin.  I am thankful for God’s grace and mercy on me, a sinner, whom He is perfecting until He returns.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Ephesians 2:11-13
“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

As I studied in Ephesians and read this passage, I find myself tremendously thankful for God’s grace of adoption.  As a “gentile” (not of the people of Israel), I would not be accepted as one of God’s people, but for the fact that Christ came and extended His sacrifice to even the gentiles.  I would be completely without hope but for that ultimate example of unmerited favor.

A little earlier in the passage, in Ephesians 2:8-9, it says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  This passage is part of the “therefore” mentioned in the quote at the beginning of this post.  I am so thankful that His grace is unreliant upon me, but rather is based upon His unchanging character.  I am His - forever.  May I, as His adopted child, reflect His glory and grace.

Monday, December 8, 2014


James 1:2-4
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Both today and yesterday were high-pain days.  I came toward the end of my work day (made it through!) and found myself analyzing my serenity.  I realized that I was content, and started to delve for the reason in order to repeat the feat.  Here is what I discovered.

I woke in the morning with the same pain I had gone to bed with, and I couldn’t reapply lavender oil to relax the hurting areas, or I wouldn’t be able to work.  (The second application doesn’t usually work as well anyway.)  Instead of thinking about the pain, though, I thought about my husband’s desire to not rush in the mornings.  I wanted to serve him and help keep his morning smooth.  So I roused myself and made my way to the bathroom to begin my day.

Later on, we pulled into my in-laws’ driveway (where we make our breakfast) and I found myself thanking the Lord for its steep incline, because it made getting out of the car less painful.  On our carpool to my work, I told my husband it should be “Take Your Wife to Work Day,” because I wanted to spend more time with him.  Yet I was content to go to work - if a little unsure as to whether or not I could last the whole day.  While at work, I also found myself thankful that the postwoman delivered my mail direct to my door (due to the Lord’s timing of a large package), which saved me the pain of rising from my chair to head to the mailbox.

Why was I content?  I truly desired not to hurt, and to spend more time with my husband.  These desires certainly weren’t being met.  However, the Truth that stuck with me was that God’s plan for me today was for it to be a high-pain day, and for me to go to work.  I couldn’t avoid the one (especially with no meds due to the pregnancy), and it was my responsibility to at least give the other (work) a shot.  So if the Lord was willing to allow it in my life, then I could rest in His promise that it would be for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28-29).  God would use this circumstance toward His purpose to make me more like Christ.

Not only this, but I could rest in the promise that His grace is sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Not only was the Lord using the circumstance to make me more like Him (for my good and His glory), but He would give me the grace and His power to actually be more like Him.  This is how He builds our endurance, as mentioned in James 1:2-4.  I also realized that I had work to do, and took that work one step at a time, remembering Colossians 3:23-24:  “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”

So why was I content?  In the face of these Truths, I was able to surrender my desires to God’s will.  I didn’t bury them, but neither did I dwell on them.  I surrendered them to His perfect will.  Yes, I would rather not hurt, and yes, I would rather spend more time with my husband, but God’s plan for me was different today, and I am content to rest in His superior knowledge of what is best for me.  My focus wasn’t so much on myself, my pain, and my desires, but on serving others, on what God was doing in my life, and His power to see His will done.

My contentment resulted from my surrender.  In that humble place, it was far easier to focus on Christ and His work - to be aware and thankful for what He was doing, instead of bitter at what I was not receiving, or that things were “not going my way.”  I thank God for surrender - both for its existence, and for His power to be able to do so.  May I take advantage of this gift of grace more often.

Have you fully surrendered your desires to God’s will?  Is there a particular desire you have trouble letting go of?  Is there something - maybe even something good - that you’re willing to sacrifice your obedience to God in order to get?  Look up the passages I mentioned, and write down something God has provided you in the midst of your circumstance despite a desire.  Look for what the Lord might be teaching you through these Scriptures. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Unceasing Prayer

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”


I wonder at Your love.  I am struck by the magnitude of what You have done for us, even as we essentially spit back at You, holding ourselves as idols, rather than ascribing You the glory that You deserve.  I run to Your loving arms in weakness, only to turn back, say, “Thanks for the refill!” and sever my line to You.  I run back into the world with my own agenda, following my own desires.  Help me to recognize my self-focus - my pride - more clearly.  The moment I take my eyes off of you, I place them on myself or some other idol.  

Thank You that when I pray to You, it helps me to not only practice Your presence, but also to keep my eyes upon You.  I may pray with my own selfish desires, but You provide even for that, in “translating,” if you will, through Your Holy Spirit.  Your Holy Spirit takes my selfish prayers and relates to You what I really need.  (Romans 8:26)  Thank You, too, for Answering those Prayers.

Thank You, Lord, for the grace that You bestow upon Your children in the gift of the ability to pray without ceasing.  You are always there listening, and always working on behalf of our good and Your glory (Romans 8:28).  Thank You for this invaluable tool to help us keep our focus on You.  Help me to use it, Lord, truly unceasingly.  I don’t take advantage nearly often enough, and yet it is a part of Your will for me - yet another tool You have graced us with to help us follow You.

Teach me to look first to Your will, to check in with You, to dialogue with You, to check my thinking constantly against Your Word.  To always be thinking of You, to always be praying to You.  In moments of victory and moments of weakness; in difficult and contented times, let my focus and my hope be ever fixed upon You.

In Jesus’ Name, amen.