I will never forget when God changed the way I viewed people…flawed people…people who hurt me.
It had been a long, hard journey with our youngest daughter who was suffering with chronic daily pain. Her discomfort was so severe that she had to drop out of High School. We made every attempt to home school when she could focus enough to read her lessons. It was hard to watch her vomit for hours and beg for silence in the dark just to cope with such severe discomfort. I did everything I knew to do! I took her to doctors, tried many medications and treatments, including several hospitalizations to break the pain syndrome, but none of the medical efforts relieved or lessened the intensity of her suffering.
After three years of watching her struggle with no cure in sight, I sat on the porch filling out disability papers to ensure we could continue her medical coverage under our policy. As I filled in the blanks on the medical form, the tears began to stream down my face ending in a frank conversation with God. I reminded God of my many days of fasting and prayer, my faithful devotional life since I was an early teen, my pursuit of medical help for my daughter, the prayer support of our church family and youth group, trips to special healing services all over the northeast and so much more. God waited patiently as I pled my case.
Then, God sweetly, and gently responded, “Ruth, do you think that my love for you is contingent upon how much you pray and read your Bible? Do you think that I love your daughter less than you do?” I was silent. I knew in my heart that God’s love wasn’t determined by our works, but in my head, and all through my life, I somehow got the idea I had to earn it to deserve it.
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38a NLT
I felt God’s unconditional and unmeasurable love wash over me. To know I was loved because I was God’s creation, and that He gave His life for me – not because I deserved it – but because he first loved me, was freeing! God spoke to me so clearly, “I love your daughter just as much as I love you, and I can take better care of her than you can.” It was then that I was able lay down my daughter at the feet of Jesus and surrendered her future into His tender care.
“For I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him…” 2 Timothy 1:12 NLT
I could trust God to guard, protect and watch over my daughter. This was one of the most difficult, yet freeing acts of surrender I have ever done. But, God wasn’t finished with me yet! He was teaching me something more! How many know, God is always teaching us more. It wasn’t just about God’s unconditional love for me or my daughter, but God proceeded to ask me to love others in the same way He was loving me!
“You mean I must love those that said my daughter was sick because she committed some secret sin?”
“You mean I am to love people who have hurt my family by the things they have said or done?”
Yes, that was exactly what God was asking of me!
The overwhelming love I was experiencing from God, knowing I didn’t earn it or deserve it, continued to speak louder than my offenses. In fact, God helped me to see the actions and words of people as expressions of their own personal journey of pain. Their conduct was not about me or my family, but in reality, it was an outward sign of an inward conflict that had never been addressed or healed. The same way God loved me, He wanted me to love others.
That doesn’t mean He expected me to be unwise or allow abusive behavior. But, it truly did change the way I viewed the people around me, and I was able to pray for them with genuine compassion. God also helped both my husband and I to be more transparent which allowed them the freedom to open up.
The beautiful outcome was that God not only healed our daughter of the chronic pain, but He used this time of physical testing, to call forth a worship ministry of healing in our daughter. She has a level of compassion that can only come through suffering. God also changed the way I saw myself and the people I was called to serve. It is true, that people will sometimes say and do hurtful things. But, we can choose how we respond and how we view them. We have watched many wounded people find help and emotional healing because we began loving them like Jesus did.
“We love each other because He loved us first.” 1 John 4:19 NLT
If you are struggling to love others, will you pray with me today…
I am hurting by what so-and-so has said, or done to me, or my family. It is painful to experience that kind of abuse, and I confess to you that my heart is struggling. But I know how much you love me, that you have pardoned my sin, my actions that wounded you, and yet, you love me and gave yourself for me. Help me to understand their pain, to have compassion and to love them as you do. Also, you promised wisdom if we ask. I don’t know how to reach them, or help them, but you do. Let my response, my prayers, and my life, be an example of your unconditional love that will break down every barrier to wholeness the enemy has devised to separate.
Thank you for never giving up on me,