One thing everyone needs, whether they realize it or not, is to be loved. Many of us, as children, learned that little song, Jesus Loves Me. The song opens with the words “Jesus love me, ths I know, for the Bible tells me so.” At some point in my life, probably in my 20s, I began to wonder if Jesus really loved me. Because I didn’t feel loved by Jesus. Neither did I feel unloved by Jesus. It wasn’t good enough to tell me that I should just believe I was loved by Jesus because the Bible told me so. When I aked Joan to become my wife, it wan’t because somebody told me that she loved me. it was because I actually experienced her love for me. The problem I was having with “Jesus loves me”, was that I wasn’t feeling or experiencing His love.
That’s not unusual. Since the early years of Christianity, this has happened to the greatest spiritual leaders. Sometimes it still happens to me. There are times when I just don’t feel a sense of the love of Jesus. I believe it happens to all of us from time to time. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, sooner or later it will; you can count on it. It’s called the “dark night of the soul”. That’s the bad news.
Here’s the good news. There’s something else you can count on. Even before you knew anything about Him, Jesus always loved you. Jesus will always love you. Jesus loves you now. even if you can’t feel His love and presence. The good news is also that because of His eternal love for you, and everyone, you can have the hope that sooner or later, you will again (or for the first time) experience His love for you. How will that hope be fulfilled? It might be through the pages of the Bible. It might be through the silent voice of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Jesus) within you. It might be through circumstances or events you experience or become aware of. It might be through a combination of any of these.But most of the time, the way I have experienced the fulfillment of the hope that I will again have a sense of “Jesus love me” has been through the words and acts of other people who God has placed in my life.
Here’s a personal example. Recently I spent five Sundays as the substitute preacher at Magnolia Road United Methodist Church, where I had served as a retired part-time pastor for four years, until mid-2010. I was asked to do this by their present pastor, since she had experienced a temporary physical disability. I knew from their comments to me, that the people of this little church appreciated that I was helping them in this way. But on the Monday morning after my last Sunday as their substitute preacher, I looked at the incoming e-mail list on my computer. There I saw a notification that the church had posted an entry on their Facebook page, which mentioned my name. I read the post, which thanked me by name for “dedicated service and help”. It concluded with the words “WE LOVE YOU”. I understood these words, which were there for the world to see, were inspired by God, for me to see. This led me to realize that my serving as their substitute preacher was not just for their benefit, but for mine. I believe God knew I needed a reminder that “Jesus loves me”, so that I could in turn hold on to the hope that He would give me all the grace I needed to make the right decisions about responsibilities I understood God had planned for me during the rest of this year. I believe that God was giving me the hope I needed through the people of that church.
Whenever I experience the love of Jesus, by whatever means, it makes me feel good. It tells me that in some small way I am of value to God and to the world. But the experience of being loved by Jesus does more than that. It also gives me hope. It gives me hope that nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39b) . And with the love of Jesus I can do all things that God calls me to be and do with my life on this earth (Phil.4:13). And that I will one day experience the love of Jesus face to face – for eternity. I am thankful that God has placed many people in my life who have helped me experience the love of Jesus. I also know that in their words and actions toward me, God is reminding me that He intends me to do the same with others, since we all need love, and there is no greater love than the love of Jesus.
Even during those times when I don’t feel the love of Jesus, I have no doubt that “Jesus loves me”. And since I know that, without a doubt, I also have no doubt that His love includes His grace. That is, everything I need to understand and fulfill the hope He has that Patty and I will give a sense of hope to you and anyone who logs on to this web-site (Ray of Hope Ministries) and reads this blog (Today’s Enlightenment – Sharing God’s Love with a Ray of Hope.
Grace and peace,
Thanks for your attention. We look forward to hearing your comments about our web-site. We also invite you to send us stories of your experiences and observations of present hopes and hope fulfilled, so we can spread them around the world via this web-site. This is one way we can all join together to help keep hope alive.
May God be with you,
Patty and Ray