My husband got a new hat. One that he’d been wanting for years and had never decided to spend for the luxury of it. I was especially thrilled to be with him when he saw it, and even more charmed when he agreed to purchase it. I’m not sure which of us wanted him to have it more. Now, when he wears it, we both grin like two children who have won golden tickets. Since his diagnosis, which carries an uncertain prognosis and no small measure of discomfort, we are more inclined to slip into God’s merciful embrace and enjoy the moments.
There is nothing quite so delightful as knowing the joy of someone you love. There is nothing quite so painful as knowing the pain of someone you love. These are the heights and depths of living and caring in community, and a willingness to experience both and everything in between is evidence of a good heart. When you love beyond yourself, you are touching the heart of heaven.
Real love – God love – can be uncomfortable to the selfish and prideful heart. It stretches and pokes and reveals stuff. It requires mercy and forgiveness, patience and humility. It also is the greatest, most holy purpose to which we are called. It is the fragrance of life and the source of all joy.
I believe there is an enlarging of capacity for living that suffering with love can facilitate, as though it carves out more room for the stuff of life. It’s a bit of a mystery how that happens, and I’m not sure it really needs to be unraveled. It is rather counterintuitive and maybe upside down in terms of logic. One simply needs to let go of everything in order to gain anything.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: that a person will lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NASB) This laying down of life covers everything from giving up your seat on the bus to throwing yourself in harm’s way to save someone else. We have opportunities every day to prefer another’s interests, to hold our tongue, to be perceived in the wrong, to die to our own selfish desires. We also have opportunities to share love and joy and gratitude and hope and peace. When we know that God is the giver of Life, we get to watch Him do it. We are His witnesses, after all.
“Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4 NASB) Here, Paul the apostle, is indicating that the earnestness of the love of the Christians in Philippi is something that completes his own joy. May we also eagerly love one another with the love of God unto complete joy.
Until next week, beloved, love earnestly and experience joy.