Trusting the Unseen
Whether you're the spoiler or the one being spoiled, it's a day for chocolate covered strawberries, flowers, and a thoughtful card.
Or maybe, this holiday is more accurately marked with rolled eyes for you.
Regardless of the romance or lack thereof - berries, flowers, thoughtfulness. I'm here for it any day of the year!
One of the kindest, most endearing Valentine gestures I've witnessed was between my sweet friend (then-roommate), Peyton, and her younger brother. Although she's in Nashville now, I think of her often.
For one, I can't help but think of her when I watch an episode of The Office. We shared many nights bonding over her homemade kettle corn (so good!) and watching Michael burn his foot for the smell of morning bacon, Dwight yell at Jim, Stanley roll his eyes, and Jim and Pam fall in love. (Rolling of eyes and falling in love - apparently, it's not just a Valentine thing...)
If you spend any time with Peyton (even just a few moments), you'll see she cares. A lot. She is intentional in her friendships. One reason for this is because she knows what it feels like to lose someone close to her.
Maybe you do, too. Although I may not know your story, my heart breaks with you.
A few years before Peyton and I became roommates, she lost her dad to cancer. It's hard to lose a parent at any age, let alone early in life.
I can't imagine.
The bond it created between her and her brothers was evident this particular Valentine's Day. I walked into the kitchen and to my surprise, Peyton offered me a chocolate covered strawberry.
As you know, the answer to an offer like that is always a resounding "Yes!"
Taking a bite, I notice the fancy packaging and know she didn't make these herself. Turns out her younger brother came to visit from Stillwater and made a special trip to the busiest mall in town to get her a present for Valentine's Day. Not just anything associated with the obnoxious theme, he intentionally chose a gift that her dad used to get for her.
Chocolate covered strawberries.
It absolutely melted my heart.
(To my dismay, he was a younger brother, y'all... thoughtfulness like that will bring a girl to one knee regardless of how old fashioned she may be!)
We all receive love differently.
Wouldn't it be nice if we all received love the same way?
Wouldn't it be nice if love was a one-size fits all?
It would take so much of the guessing and questions out of it.
But, it would also take the thoughtfulness out of it.
There would be no need to spend time with others and understand what they like or what makes them feel special or what leaves them feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside.
Yeah, it's a really good thing God made us all different. Love isn't one layer deep. There's dimension and depth to love, so much so we can't fully explain love.
And this is because God is love and God isn't one layer deep. He is far more complex than our minds could ever begin to comprehend.
Loving others well requires us to set aside our needs and choose to meet their needs first. Dr. Gary Chapman provides insight on the various love languages and even has an online quiz to help you discover the way or ways you feel most loved.
It helps us be intentional in speaking others' love languages rather than assuming they feel loved the way we prefer to show it.
Although I have two dominant ways I feel loved, I actually score fairly high across the board. I think this is because my true love language is thoughtfulness.
It doesn't matter if we're spending quality time together or I'm being shown love by serving or words of affirmation or receiving gifts or a hug, back rub or foot massage - the thoughtfulness behind the gesture always speaks the loudest.
It just feels so good to know you were on someone's mind. Out of all the things they could have been thinking about, they were thinking about you.
Since this is such a strong emotion for us, the opposite is equally as strong.
We don't want to not be thought about.
We don't want to be forgotten.
And sometimes when God is not showing up the way we expect, this fear of being forgotten - not being cared for - comes blaring into our minds and begins to take root in our hearts if we're not careful.
We may slip into the lie that God is not thoughtful toward us or even thoughtful of us.
The One You Love
If someone were to say, "The one you love," who immediately comes to mind for you?
Maybe it's your spouse or your significant other.
Maybe it's your mother or your father.
Maybe a grandparent.
Maybe a son or daughter.
Maybe another relative, or a friend who may not be a relative by blood but over the years has proven to be a relative by choice.
Although the relationship may vary, the pool of "ones we love" is relatively small. We may have a lot of people in our circle, but if someone were to say "the one you love," our hearts are immediately drawn to a specific person.
Okay, so if someone were to say "the one you love is sick," what would you do?
Correction - pardon my typo, it's more a question of what would you NOT do?!
It's a drop and go. We drop whatever it is we're doing - we make no excuses - and we go to see them, to be with them, to comfort them.
Have you ever prayed for something and you know in your heart God is able to make this something right, but for some reason, it seems He's not doing it?
Or, even more, it seems He's not doing anything?
I'm a connector. When I'm going through hard times, it helps me to know someone has felt my pain.
Although it may not be our first thought, the Bible is a great place to look. If I can find someone in the New Testament who has felt the way I do now, I can see how Jesus responded to them and be comforted.
Two friends of Jesus, sisters named Mary and Martha, come to Him saying,
“Lord, the one you love is sick.” - John 11:3
Hearing this, He immediately knows who they are speaking of, yet His response is not what we expect.
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. - John 11:4-5
At first glance, it's not what He did but what He didn't do.
I would expect Jesus to say, "Lazarus! My close friend, Lazarus! Bring me to him at once!"
But He doesn't.
I would expect Jesus to become emotional, visibly affected by the news of His dear friend suffering.
But He doesn't.
He remains calm. (After all, He is God in flesh and knew this would happen.) He reassures them with something they don't want to hear and don't understand.
When we're distraught and desperate, we want certain answers. Let's not confuse this with certainty. Jesus gave them certainty, but He did not give them the certain answers they were after.
Often, it's the same for us. We're given certainty, but because it's not the certain answers we were expecting to receive, we are confused, angry and even feel forgotten.
We doubt His goodness. And our circumstances seem to justify this in us.
We want full disclosure. So did the sisters.
I'm sure Mary and Martha were angry with Jesus' response and even felt abandoned by Him. Jesus says, "This sickness will not end in death."
They might be thinking He's speaking of heaven here. Sure, Lazarus will not die; he will live for eternity in heaven.
Although that's a beautiful promise, it's simply not what they came for. They came to have Jesus intervene now! They came to have Jesus prolong their brother's life on earth. It did not make sense to them.
But, there's something - well, three things really - in His response we need to pay attention to. In order to see this, we're going to work backwards.
First being (when I say "first," you know I really mean last), we know Jesus loved them. They were not strangers nor were they acquaintances; there was more here. There's relationship and an emotional connection between Jesus and this family.
And we need to remember this, too, when we find ourselves in unexpected situations. What if His response is not a lack of love but motivated by His love for us?
How could God's love for you be the reason for His response to you in this?
Second being (stuck in the middle regardless), this is not a lack of response but a seemingly delayed response. The reason for this seemingly delayed response is so God can be glorified, not man.
Sometimes God will not act right away because it would be too easy to dismiss the miracle as an earthly happenstance. God is not going to share His glory. He also uses these difficult times in our lives to teach us to trust Him and grow our faith.
We have to trust what He says is true even when when we don't see it.
If you're trusting God and walking in faith yet experiencing a seemingly delayed response in your life, rest assured it's not that God is not there or He doesn't care.
It's quite the opposite.
He cares for you so much, He wants to reveal His glory through you and this situation you are in.
Third being (and yes, we know I really mean first), what will not end in death? The sickness.
Sometimes God gives us a very plain, reassuring answer, but in our grieving, we overlook the promise because it's not what we expected to hear.
Maybe it's time we start expecting the unexpected with God.
We know if it's not good, He's not done.
Let's bring this to remembrance today as we ask ourselves, "Where are we putting our trust?"
This love cannot be stopped by death or hell itself. With a resume like that, we can be certain - even when we're not receiving certain answers - His love is the safest place for us to be and the strongest hand for us to hold.
Let us find strength seeing God's character from scripture. May we find joy as we call upon the name of Jesus and peace knowing His response to us is motivated by love because He is love.
May we rest knowing we are the apple, the center-most part, of His eye. He has not and will not forget us or leave us here forever.
He is good.
That is certain even when our circumstances are anything but.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!