As I stood watching my son doing what he likely thought was nothing much at all, I was truly awed and proud. He had been up with his 8 month old at 2 am, then proceeded to feed his very sick dog 3 doses of medicine, all of which he did in such a calm and loving way that my mama heart overflowed with love for him.
As I lay in bed that night, I thanked God for my son and for each of my four children. I prayed for their strength and protection, as well as for their spouses and significant others, for my grandson, for all the young people I know, my family and friends, as they all have so much on their plates at times. As I did this, I thought to myself, if I love my children, my family, my friends, this much, imagine how much love God feels for each of us. How often must he look down on us, as we go about the seemingly mundane, the incredibly hard, or the beautifully joyous times in our lives, and say, “Oh, dear child, I love you so, hang in there,” just like I did when watching my son for a few brief moments, and just like I have with each of my children at some point in their lives.
God’s word tells us over and over how much he loves us. 1 John 3:1 says, “See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children.” (NLT)
The Message version of the Bible says it this way:
“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it –we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are.” (MSG)
I like that last version particularly for the emphasis on saying “That’s who we really are.” It’s so important that we know this every day, that we identify first as a son or daughter of God, because the world is going to shout very loudly to distract us from this truth. We will hear so many messages of how we are to look, act, think, be, that we are pulled away from the truth of who we are as God’s uniquely created child. This may be why God tells of his love for us in the Bible 310 times, noted 131 times in the Old Testament and 179 times in the New Testament. Like me, telling my own children I love them in nearly every text message I send, God can’t help but tell us this truth. He doesn’t want us to forget it.
If we truly let all parts of 1 John 3:1 soak in – the marvelous love God has for us, combined with who we are, above anything else – the almighty God’s child, we should feel incredibly deep peace and strength. But often I think we hear the words “God loves you” and we don’t let it truly sink in. Maybe that’s because we don’t see him physically present with us, or because we feel distant from him, or because we don’t really understand what his love is like. But that moment watching my own child in the middle of the night somehow made me feel a surge of love from God, and it’s my hope that I hang onto that spark and help others feel it too.
Lately there are a lot of hard and terrible things happening in our world. It’s easy for me to be overwhelmed by it all, to pay little notice to the really good things, to feel helpless, discouraged, to wonder how things might get better. If I look at the Bible, I’m reminded that hard times are not a new thing, that there has always been evil in the world, but we are promised that evil does not have the final word. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” He says this right before praying for all of us, saying in John 16:23, “I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
I hope we can all pray and work toward this unity, knowing and sharing the full love of God that prevails over all. I hope you will hear and feel God’s love in the world today more than you hear or feel the darkness of the world. I hope you know that “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
When I am hearing negative thoughts or noticing sad things more than I’m feeling God’s hope, it helps me to stop and give more attention to the things of God. Aside from being in his word, I can simply look around me and see him. God creates a world of beauty for us to see his love in nature and in other people. When I witnessed my son holding his child in the middle of the night and tending to his sick dog, I saw love in action. When I see anyone helping another, being kind to someone, I see God’s love in action. When I experience anything in God’s creation, I am experiencing his love because he created all these things - a sunflower, the sound of wind in the trees, warm sun on my face, laughter from those I love. I can take these for granted or I can thank God for these beautiful gifts, realizing he gives me these things out of love and he wants me to know his love.
Romans 12:21 says, “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” By focusing on God’s goodness, I then want to give that goodness back to others. I hope that’s what these words have done today. I hope and pray you know God’s love above all else and pray you feel his presence with you today and every day.
Journaling or Action for this week:
Where are you seeing God's goodness and love - in nature, in others, in His word? Write these down, draw or paint them, and let these be a prayer of thanks to God and a reminder of how much you are loved.