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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Faith? Good. Hope? Good. Love? The Greatest.

It's a been a rough week, people. 

I've heard so very many heartbreaking prayer requests this week.  As believers, we seek comfort in praying and we seek comfort in scripture.  I gotta tell you though, this week, comfort has been hard to find. Weeks like this can leave a gal who has way too many words floating around in her head in search of more words - better words - words that will bring wisdom, words that will bring explanation, words that will bring understanding.   And it can leave her coming up empty.

Writing helps me sort things out most of the time.  I started to write yesterday.  I started to write last night.  I started to write this morning.  I clicked the computer closed again and again.  The sorting wasn't happening.  Too many questions of what to say, how to say it, what to do, how to help.  And no answers.

As I drove around yesterday, my Ipod shuffled to a song by Third Day.

"Give me something that I can believe and then I'll share it with the world for everyone to see.
Take away the darkness, all the pain and sadness.  I know it's You that put this light inside of me.
I believe in faith that's strong and I believe in hope that carries on. I believe these things and more.
But most of all, most of all, I believe in love."

I know the basis of this song to be 1 Corinthians 13 which I've heard countless times in my life.  Mostly, it's read at weddings, so I associate it with joy and romantic love.  I've thought of it as a happy, celebratory verse for exciting, hopeful occasions.  This has not been a verse I would think to ponder during a week when I am praying for a disappointed young student, a devastated grieving wife and a nation terrorized by evil.

Guess what?  I didn't get that verse at all.

I think perhaps it is the perfect verse to study when we are faced with tragedy.  We, who profess assurance in our beliefs?  We, who search after God in the study of the Bible?  We, who believe in hope and peace which transcends understanding?  We want to believe that our faith and our hope will be easily accessible when we are trying to comfort a friend, trying to make sense of inexplicable evil, trying to urge a child not to give up on his dream.  But sometimes, frankly, faith and hope are not so easy to find.  Even for this card-carrying-totally-in-the-tank-for-Jesus Christian woman, those two can be elusive at times.  They might not be lost, but they might be buried deep when we face the darkness and pain of the grieving.  So then, what are we to do?

What do we think when that young man who has scratched and clawed his way through classes in pursuit of a certain school has his dreams postponed again?  Do we pull from Jeremiah, reciting:  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."?

Maybe.  Faith in His plan?  Sure, that's good.

What do we say to a young wife whose family is crushed by sudden loss?  Do we pull from Thessalonians relaying that "we do not grieve as those who have no hope."?

Maybe.  The hope of eternal life?  Sure, that's good.

What do we make of a nation terrorized on one of its most beautiful days in one of its most beloved cities?  Do we throw out Romans 5:3 pleading our people to "rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character and character, hope."?

Maybe.  Perseverance?  Character?  Sure, those are good.

Faith.  Hope.  Good.

But, love?  Love is greater. 

Maybe, at least in the beginning of sorting through the muck, we don't have to be wise.  We don't have to show how strong is our faith.  We don't have to profess our hope.  We have to remember that which is greater.

He FIRST loved us.  First, we just love.

It's freeing actually.  When we look into the eyes of raw pain, love isn't only the greatest to give, it might be all we have to give.  It is most certainly, the easiest.  It comes the most naturally in times of tragedy.  It might not seem like enough. We'll feel we need to do more:  bake a casserole, send flowers, donate money, write our representative, quote ourselves silly with the Bible.  But what if we just can't do that at first? 

If we have to muddle through one day or even one minute at time, we can just start with love.  I think that the more just plain, ol' love we give, the more faith and hope will just bubble up with it.  Love will be enough.  It has to be.  That's why He said it. 

Faith, hope, love.  All good.  But, the greatest of these is love.

Just love.

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