Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…Love never fails…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-8,13 NIV
It’s in the darkest of nights that my heart has learned how to see the goodness of God.
Jesus talks about how anybody can love those who are good to them – but it takes revelation to love those you term as enemies.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
– Luke 6:32-38 NIV
Consider for a moment that the same applies to our relationship with God. When circumstances in life seem to infer that God is not for us – that He is our enemy – it is then our love for Him is tested for every ounce of its validity.
Anyone can love God when His goodness is apparent and overflowing in their life. When everything is working out just like they want it to and there’s not a trial in sight. But when life hits you so hard you don’t even know which way is up?
There are people who walk away from God never to return. I can’t afford to lay blame or judgment at their feet. I’ve seen enough as a Christian to know that it takes supernatural grace to keep any of us standing.
There are those who stay but get stuck on the thing that breaks them. I’m not talking about taking some time to catch your breath after you’ve gotten the wind knocked out of you. I mean seasons and seasons of trying to stand on the same sinking sand never realizing that the ground they’re on will never be stable enough to hold them; never aware that the shaking has nothing to do with their own stability and everything to do with the ground they’re on; never knowing that they need to move forward to stable ground if they are to stand strong again.
Then there are those who, like Job, find a way to weep, wail, crawl, whatever it takes, through the fire only to find that it leads them right back to a God who they thought they knew all along but have just discovered they’ve barely scratched the surface of who He is.
There are seasons of life that will cost you everything you have and everything you didn’t even know you have to love God. Seasons where you will have to wrestle with everything you thought was sure and certain in your faith. Seasons where you need to decide what your relationship with God is worth to you because it will be directly linked to what you are willing to pay as the price to abide with Him.
Salvation is free but discipleship is not. There is a cross we must all bear as followers of Christ by virtue of living in a world full of trials and tribulations. We’re not doing anyone any favours by making it seem like Christianity is easy, when the truth is, it’s not. Far from it.
Faith must be lived out. Your faith will be tested. Again and again. This is not to scare you but to prepare you. Christ Himself made it clear that we would experience troubles in this world. But in the same breath, He also gave a fundamental context for our sorrows that we must never forget – He has already overcome the world.
There is no trouble that finds you that He has no victory over. It is in this truth that our victory lies hidden in even as we battle with the whys and what ifs and the could haves and the maybes. It is this truth I have seen time and again.
In the dark nights I have learned how to wrestle with the truth of who God is and the difficult reality of what life is in that instance. It’s in the darkest of nights that I’ve learned to see God and myself in a whole new light. It’s in the darkest of nights that my heart has learned how to irrevocably trust in the goodness of God, even when I don’t understand.
Should you find yourself in a dark night, know this. God can take your anger and grief, your disappointment and frustration. Especially that which is directed at Him. Let Him have it for it is far too great a burden for you to bear alone.
The days may be long, the nights even longer. Everything in you may want to give up. That is when you must remember the One who preceded your pain and overcame your sorrow long before you walked into it.
Hang in there. Out of the ashes, the greatest love between you and God will rise again. It may not look like anything you expected it to. But what a breathtaking sight it will be to behold.
I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
– Psalm 30 NIV