To Be?

“To be, or not to be, that is the question.”  It is one of the most famous quotes known to mankind.  In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, we find one of life’s leering questions.

When life becomes difficult or even desperate, sometimes, even death can become enticing.  But, then, one is left wondering, what is death like?  What comes after death?  Which is worse?  Which is the better choice to live a life of pain and agony or to end life and chance death and what comes after?

Have you ever been that desperate?  Has death ever seemed enticing in the midst of your suffering?

John 16:23 says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

This might be hard to hear if one is in the midst of tribulation.  If one is bitter, they may turn away from God.  There pain builds up walls that even keep out truth and they become prisoners in their own prisons.  To them, a glimpse of freedom becomes a lost cause.  Darkness creeps in and takes over.  Depression, lies, offense, loneliness, and despair can take over…

if one lets it.

You see?  This is the key.

(Let me pause here and say that depression is a serious medical condition and if you are struggling with any type of depression please seek out medical help and speak with your doctor).

Do you allow yourself to let Christ rise up in you, allowing Him to overcome the world?  Or, do you allow the world to overcome you?

It’s the difference in the small choices we make.  Do you let a depressive thought take hold by festering on it?  Do you seek out truth or just choose to believe in a feeling that could be based on a lie?  Do you take offense to what others around you do or say when they really sought no harm to begin with?  Do you choose to withdraw instead of getting involved?  Do you recoil in hopelessness?  Or do you choose to hope?

There is a hope.  One great hope.

Romans 5:3-5 says, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

There is hope.  Our current sufferings will not be able to match the glory that is to be revealed to us.  (Paraphrased from Romans 8:18)

One of my most favorite pieces of writings is the popular poem titled “Footprints in the Sand.”  It is a beautiful picture of how God loves us, even in our most trying times, when we doubt His great love, and don’t feel His presence.

He is there.

Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

John 16:23 says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

(Again, depression and thoughts of suicide are serious medical condition and should be shared with your doctor immediately). 

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LOVE

Love.

Is it an emotion or a choice?
Is it fleeting or everlasting?

We are born crying for it and we die hoping we lived a life full of it.

Love.

It is what makes the world go round.  The lack of it makes us go to war.  When it is present and in one of its purest forms it is witnessed in the eyes of a newborn’s mother.

Love.

It is what we live for.  Die for.  We break our backs trying to earn it.  We break hearts when we fail to give it.

Love.

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  No other commandment is greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31

“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” John 15:12

“This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:17

It is the root of the Christian faith.  Out of love the gospel flows forth with more passion than any romance novel could imitate.  Out of love the Son of Man became flesh and bore our sin and shame, suffered and died.  Yet on the 3rd day He conquered sin and the grave and rose to life, victorious.  Love not only covers our sins but it wipes them from the fabric of history.  They are gone as far as the east is from the west. Gone.

Love frees us.  It revives us.  Love breathes life into us.

What is love?  “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13

I don’t die a physical death but I choose to lay down my selfish life and choose to live the life Christ wants to live in and through me.  That life is one full of love, incomprehensible for the human mind to grasp entirely.   Yet, it is a love chosen for me.   It is the love that will fulfill me.  This love is from God and He pours it out endlessly to His creation, His people.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

God’s love saves us, heals us, comforts us, encourages us, grows us, challenges us, calls us, moves us… all to transform us into the likeness of Christ so that we may be one with Him in spirit and in truth.

We all were created by God to do one thing above everything else.  We were all created to be loved by God and to love each other as He first loved us. We are made worthy of His love because of Christ’s death and resurrection.  We are worthy when we accept him as savior.  We are worthy because we are heirs to His throne, His kingdom.

Each of us knows that longing deep within ourselves to be accepted, valued, wanted and loved.  That longing cannot be satisfied with anything else or by anyone else.

One love will fulfill you.  One love will satisfy you. One love will give you everlasting life.  One love brings salvation.  One love delivers freedom.  One love is the true love. That is the love that comes from the one true God maker of heaven and earth.  That love is God’s love.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8

When you seek truth you will find it.  When you find truth it will set you free.
Set me free?
Am I not free?  We are all slaves to something.  Each of us has been lost in our own way.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3

I am so relieved that there is a God, a Creator.  I am so relieved that I am not god, that I, a person of mess, dysfunction, awkwardness and ignorance, am not that god.  What a relief to rest in the love, for good to conquer evil.  Everyone can find life, freedom and rest in the arms of a loving Father.  His love is perfect in every way and he will never leave us or forsake us.