Several years ago, I had this thought cross through my mind, “why does it matter that God loves me?” I’d been hearing it my entire life, “God loves you!”. I’d been singing it since before I could walk, “Jesus loves me this I know”, and yet never had I really stopped and pondered the significance of such a weighty, wonderful, and truly miraculous statement; God loves you.
Somewhere along the way it had become just another cliché, back pocket phrase I was told I should tell people when they’re feeling down and discouraged. It was so familiar and yet so foreign. So customary and yet so confounding. What did God’s love have anything to do with my day-to-day existence, let alone my struggles and questions and sorrows and pains? What peace would the truth of being loved bring? What hope does telling someone, “Jesus loves you”, produce? These questions shot back and forth in my head for days and on the other side of them came a comfort that continues to sustain and uphold, a comfort that has carried me through life’s deep valleys, a comfort that is surely only possible because of love.
Due to our sinful nature, no matter how hard we try, our love can never be wholly, consistently, and unwaveringly unconditional. Maybe on a really really good day we love unconditionally but every day? Do you know yourself? That’s not happening. This is not so with God. He is able to perfectly love us with a love not subject to conditions. His love is free from limits, free from pay backs, free from ‘if you…then I wills’. God’s love comes from him, is sustained by him, and is complete in himself. We are not needed for him to love. For some, those words are discouraging. For myself, those words were the freedom I’d been searching for my whole life. His love for me is not dependent on me. What comfort.
In 1 John it says, “God is love”. His love then is not merely an act of benevolence towards his creation, nor is it something he only feels; it’s who he is. Wrap your head around that one. And he, being love, is moved to action. 2,000 years ago, we saw his love unfold when he sent his son for our salvation, and it has continued to pour down through the centuries as we are rescued from our tombs of despair and striving and hostility and self-loathing and depression and pride and fear and sin. Sometimes his action or lack of action feels little like love but, we would do ourselves good to remember that he sees the whole picture while we see only one pixel. His love is continually acting on our behalf, even when we feel like it’s not. What comfort.
As those questions ran to-and-fro in my head, I kept coming back again and again to the who of the statement, not the what. Now don’t get me wrong, love is a good thing. If there’s anybody who’s a sucker for a good love story, it’s this girl right here. Heck, I was sitting on my couch just the other night, watching Cheaper by the Dozen 2, crying when the oldest daughter has a baby boy and in response to the question about his name, she tells her dad, Tom Baker, “I think we’re gonna go with Tom” because my gosh I could FEEL the love in the room. Love is good but, we all know that being loved by a stranger and being loved by your mother are two very different things. So, love matters but the one loving matters even more. And to think, the Creator of all the universe loves us. The one who with just a word, set the stars in motion. The one who, if He so chose, could stop the sun from rising. The one who knows no beginning and will never know an end. This God loves me. What comfort.
This God who loves is not some distant, authoritative king up on his throne, unconcerned with the affairs of his subjects. Nor is He a detached creator, having made all that is and now remains unassociated with his creation. He is God; holy and majestic and powerful and mighty and wonderful and good. And he loves. He loves because he is love. He loves in a way unfathomable to our finite minds. He loved us enough to make a way for us to know and experience and be caught up in his love. In his son, Jesus, he gave us the proof of the extent to which he will go to show us his love. So, are you hurting today? Are you anxious? Are you doubting? Are you tired? Are you broken? Are you grieving? Are you weary? Are you worried? Are you longing? Are you hopeless? Are you afraid? Are you restless? Are you confused? Would you rest in his love today? Would you contemplate and meditate on the truth of his love? Would you trust that his love can bring to life what is dead in you?
God loves you. What comfort.