Suffering by Loving is not a Mistake

Several years ago, one of my daughters called me late one evening, distressed that in the last year, she had three friends whose fathers had died. She shared that, through this experience, she was even more grateful that we were alive and healthy and appreciated the privilege of sharing our lives together. Nonetheless, she was fearful of what can and will eventually happen –death does come. Death does come for all of us, sometimes after suffering and pain and at other times as sudden as a gust of wind or a crashing wave. We know not when our time will come. As hard as it was for me to hear the anguish in her voice that day, I cried tears of joy after I hung up the phone, not because she told us how much she loved us but because she seemed at peace with articulating that love. In those few minutes, her love overcame her fear of death, and mine as well.

Alienation, despair, confusion, and the fear of death is part of the formula of a life of faith. Our faith is rooted in a belief that God offers something better than we can manufacture or create ourselves – love. Our life of faith includes moments and even more lengthy seasons of doubt, even to the point of total disbelief. We ask, “God, I trusted you, how could you allow this to happen to me or my loved one?” And when God is silent and as God’s silence and stillness continues without resolution or observed response, our tests of faith lengthen and grow.

During these times, we often realize a sense of insignificance; we act as if we are suddenly alone in our anxious and fearful moments. We second guess our heart, wondering if our chosen path of suffering by loving , suffering because we have loved, was a mistake. And often in a moment of total despair, we draw despondent conclusions and say something like, “I should have never loved in the first place, it wasn’t worth it.” This is where we are dead wrong.

The greatest gift that God has given us as human beings is to love and be loved. A life of faith is built upon the knowledge of love, of receiving and sharing this fascinating and empowering emotion. Love is our human ability to convey an intangible gift to another being. And more significantly, when someone bestows this intangible gift upon us, translating it into tangible and measurable meaning gives us the ability to carry on, even when we find ourselves in a dark place.

We find God in the empowering moment when we receive and give love. We cannot manufacture or create it on our own; it is something that we have been given, plain and simple. We cannot express love to its fullest extent but we come closest when we realize how much God loves us, that God would give His only Son that we might live. If we adopt a theology to explain our tragedies and disappointments separate from realizing the depth of God’s love, we become distracted often to the point of blindness, no longer able to recognize the peace God solely offers. Love is the spiritual experience that theology cannot touch. God’s love is what makes our lives worth living, not the illusionary love that we humans think we can manufacture on our own separate from God. God has shown us through Jesus’ love that life is worth living and love is worth giving, even unto death.

The promise of God’s love did not end with Jesus on the cross. If that were true, we would most likely not be aware of Jesus of Nazareth today; he would have been just another person who was crucified by the Romans. The promise of hope and the gift of God’s eternal love is truth because of what happened on resurrection morning; there were only three days of fear and despair. I try to imagine what it was like to have witnessed that moment that changed the world and made us whole again. This is the love that can make and keep us whole. I pray for your wholeness. Call someone and share God’s love today, tell them that you love them because God loved you first and allow for God to soothe your own fears and despair; I thank God for those who have called me. TCGB

Previously Published in the Greenville Advocate

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