For the past couple of months, we’ve been talking about spiritual stuckness, releasing unhelpful spiritual habits and embracing those that will grow our relationships with God, the world, and each other. Well, nothing like a whack on the noggin from the unpredictable and unwelcome to shake us out of our complacency and into, into what?
I suppose “into what” is the operative phrase here, because my suspicion is that every one of us has uttered something like “what’s happening to this world,” “what should we do,” or “what do we need” over the past couple of weeks. Whether from fear or anxiety or pain, or from love, hope, and the deep desire to be of service, COVID has forced all of us to ask what’s coming next and if it’s possible to be prepared when it does.
Regardless of what we believe concerning spiritual things, whether we believe God is ultimately running this show and that nothing happens without His permission, provision, and protection in place, or in the collective ability of people of good will to lessen the burden of crisis on those least equipped to bear it, COVID and its continuing consequences present a direct challenge to our faith and faithfulness.
I happen to believe both of these things. I feel the presence of God with me every day as I pray, counsel, and move through the typically more (but increasingly less) mundane tasks of life. I draw strength and peace knowing that none of this took God by surprise or gave Him a minute’s anxiety. I am never alone even when socially isolated, and “because I have made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, my dwelling place, no evil shall befall me, nor any plague come near my dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over me, to keep me in all my ways” (Psalm 91:9-11; sic).
But just the same, I believe one of God’s favorite ways of easing our pain and fear is by using the hands and voices and hearts of our fellow human beings. As individuals and communities alike, we are here to love one another, to be the places in this world where Divine Love can connect to human need. We have been so dearly and perfectly loved by God, created for God’s Holy Spirit to do good works and wonders through us. It should be a no-brainer for us to let that love flow to others, right?
And yet, it often takes a crisis like the one we now face to bring this truth into full relief: Love one another as I have loved you!
I have heard/read quite a few people asking, “Where is the love of God when people are sick and dying and broke and vulnerable?” It makes me sad to see this question asked, for it means that somewhere, a professed child of God is failing to honor the Father’s request: Love one another as I have loved you, and do it now!
God’s love is where it has always been: in the minds and hearts of those who allow Divine Love and Grace to dwell within them and work through them.
Perhaps it is hard for some of us to reach out and love others because we can’t see how God could possibly love us to begin with. Although I have been there and have empathy for anyone who has trouble feeling God’s love, what we feel has nothing to do with how God loves us. God loves us because it is His nature to do so. Love is who God is, not merely what He does. If you find it difficult to believe this, ask God to let you see just how deeply you are loved! The signs you need most will come.
You may experience the Love of God as an answered prayer, a comforting hymn, joyous sense of belonging. But the Love that is God dwells is all that He created. The smell of lilacs, the beauty of green hills and budding trees, the cry of a cardinal, the sparkle of sunlight on a cool lake all point us back to the One who gave us these gifts. A child learning to be kind, a blissful dance, a heartfelt poem, a constant friendship remind us that God made us to share His gift of love in ways as varied as we are.
Know, without a shadow of doubt, that God loves you with an endless love, the Love in which His very being consists. But none of us knows God’s love in the specific ways that we do by accident. We have each come to know God’s love as we do because the contours of our lives have been different, requiring God to express Himself to us in varied and wondrous ways. We now know that language and can express it to others. Thus, our experiences of God suit us to be His hands, voice, and heart for others who find themselves where we have been.
The current crisis is no different. There are people around you, physically and virtually, that only you can help because you’re the only one who can understand their fears and anxieties.
Share the love of God with those He puts in your path precisely as you have experienced it. Even when the world seems to be falling apart, trust that the Love of God, the Love that IS God, is the same as it ever was and ever will be. Believe that God’s love will hold you safe and secure regardless of how rough the seas or how wildly the boat is shaking. Have faith that there is nothing you can’t endure when the Spirit of God, the Love of God, is enduring in you.
Then share that faith in the matchless Love that is God with the world just outside your door, on your Facebook page, or in your living room. May God bless us, every one!