When I read of the tragic death of the Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden fame, who took his own life last week after a life-long struggle with depression, I was deeply and humbly thankful for the message I have believed, one that has preserved my life with hope through it all. My temperament is that of a melancholy, tending to sadness, often living at arm’s length from the world around me. One of the worst eras of my life included a bout of depression in my middle 40’s that was as painful as any physical ailment. But, I do not choose to live in the dark. We do not get to choose all the circumstances in our life but we are privileged to choose the way we see our story.
The profound proclamation, so familiar, yet radical in all the implications that come from it, is this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17, NIV) We are not abandoned, we are not alone; we are loved. This is the word we are invited to accept, to believe, to live. The cruelty of the world, the seemingly meaningless violence like that of a hate-filled young man in Manchester, England who blew himself to Hell and ended the earthly journey of 22 more people, the banality of pain and suffering that sometimes overtakes us would argue against the declaration of God’s love. Yet, I choose to believe!
The Sovereign God could end our freedom, suspend our will, and banish evil but could we then know real love? We would be robots, pre-programmed. Ever seen one of those cute dolls that has recorded phrases of affection stored in memory? When you press a button, the doll ‘speaks’ but the words are really without meaning for it has no freedom to choose the sentiment. God created us, gave us this world, and set us free – to love, to hate, to build, to destroy. Seeing the mess that humanity was making of it all, He came to the world, Love Incarnate, and showed us the depth of His love by enduring terrible pain on our behalf. And, then He invited us to join Him in the struggle against evil, even while assuring us that we are His, beloved by covenant. That’s my story!
Like the ancient sufferer, Job, I say “God might kill me, but I have no other hope. I am going to argue my case with him. But this is what will save me—I am not godless. If I were, I could not stand before him.” (Job 13:15-16, NLT) Hard words? Perhaps, but honest. To turn from God, to become my own deity, is to become hopeless, a life without meaning other than whatever passing pleasure I might find. So, I see beauty in Creation, experience the love of friend and brother, open my heart in worship – and the Spirit whispers – “you are His own, the child of your Abba!”
What story do you choose to live – the godless one or the God-centered one?
Do you rage against the evil and pain that is real, like one who helplessly screams at the hurricane’s winds; or do you offer worship from a humble and faithful heart for the love He has proffered in His Son? Sometimes my faith is battered, my hope tattered, my life to all appearance shattered – and yet I trust Him for in Him there is life.
This is the word from the Word. Grab onto it. Write in your mind, engrave it in your heart.“With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” (Romans 8:31-39, The Message)
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)
You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sov’reign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine
Joel Houston | Matt Crocker | Salomon Ligthelm
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