The Love of God
What do you think about when you consider the love of God? Do you think of it in general terms, theologically, or personally? I’ve had people tell me that they believe God is love, but they don’t believe He can love them. There is just something in their lives that is not worthy of His love—as if there is anything in the universe that is stronger than God, or stronger than His love—still, that is what they feel.
People also struggle because they equate God’s love with human love, but human love is so variable, and often is self-centered, not other-centered. Whereas God’s love is His nature, and therefore does not ebb and flow, nor is it dependent on the object of His love, it is solely bound up in who He is. Therefore, the fact that we do not always sense God’s love at the same intensity is more about our changeableness than about His love.
Think of it this way: God’s love is like an endless waterfall. It cascades down on us continually. There are times when we withdraw ourselves from that flow, but it does not stop the flow, just our experience of it. Of course there are many holes in any analogy of something as transcendent as the love of God, but the fact remains that His love in incessant, so our “experience” is not the sum total of the reality of the love of God.
Scripture is replete with information about the love of God, but it is often information that we receive technically without applying it personally. For many years I believed that God loved me, for the reason that He said so, and His word is true. The attitude was more like some form of legal contract. God promised to love, and has a special love for those who believe in Him. Since I believed in Him, in order to keep His word, He then had to love me. Cut and dried. Legally binding. Covenantal. But very cold and business like.
But that’s not the love of God. His love is passionate, and lavish, and costly; still, it is something that we struggle to grasp and experience. Paul realized this and thus it inspired His prayer that the Ephesians would be able to grasp this love that was beyond understanding. This is because it is not natural; it is supernatural. It cannot be fully grasped with our minds; it must be discerned and experienced in our spirits. And I believe that Paul addresses a key ingredient in our quest to know and experience this love of God more fully: prayer.
I’m currently engaged in a study of the love of God, looking at Scriptures and reading what others have to say about this precious gift. Currently I have a notecard with 60 different facets of God’s love, drawn from the Scripture into which I’m delving. But these wonderful truths will remain merely “facts about God’s love,” unless we apply them in some way to our lives.
Recently I was writing to a friend who is going through some very tough times, and I knew it must be hard to hang onto the love of God in the midst of these struggles. I hoped to encourage her by writing some of these truths about God’s love for us in the form of a prayer of thanksgiving. By thanking God for the truth of His love toward us, we are acknowledging that we really believe these facts are directed toward us in a personal way. While the facets of God’s love which will appear in this prayer are not exhaustive, I hope that they will encourage each of us to embrace the reality of just how loved we are by our loving Lord.
Lord, I know that You SO loved the world, but thank You that You also SO loved me. Thank You that Your love is beyond imagining, but also personal—for me. Thank You that Your love means that You listen to me, and You see me, no matter if those in the world around me seem not to care. Thank You that Your love for me is not shaken by my moods or by my failure, but is constant and unchanging as You are, steadfast and firm. Thank You that Your love is who You are, yet it accepts me as I am, and meets me where I am. Thank You, too, that Your holy love never leaves me where I am, but redeems, cleanses, grows, and draws me nearer to You.
Thank You that Your love sees my pain and doesn’t turn away, rather moves toward me to embrace and support me with Your compassion. Thank You that Your love for me is there consistently, and is not wavering, whether or not I can feel it. Thank You that Your love for me is as consistent and unfailing as Your Word, for Your Word says that You have loved me with an everlasting love, and have drawn me with cords of lovingkindness.
Thank You that You love me just as You love Your Son—as mind-blowing as that is! Thank You that Your love for me is compassionate, kind and gentle. Thank You for the many ways You reveal and demonstrate Your love to me. Thank You for how Your love reaches out to me, pursues me, and draws me into union with Yourself. Thank You that Your love caused You to identify with me, becoming human so you could know my weakness and frailty. Thank You that You demonstrated the greatest love, that You would give up Your life so I could be with You eternally.
I’ve not even scratched the surface of the many facets of God’s passionate, persevering, preserving and perfect love, but you get the idea. Let me encourage you to pray this out loud regularly, and to add to it anything you discern about God’s love as you read Scripture. I loved to hear how this changes your ability to experience God’s love personally in your own life.