This is Love – not that we chose God, but that He chose us, not because of our accomplishments or our virtue, not because of how hard we tried or how good we looked in our efforts, not because of our worthiness or suitability, but because of His grace.
This is Love – that He chose us in the midst of our failure; that He chose me in the middle of my sin, in the depths of my helplessness, in the darkest hour of my falling and failing, and chose that as what and who He wanted to redeem.
This is Love – that no matter how I sin, fail, cause pain to myself and others, and no matter how I succeed, triumph, or live rightly to try and make God proud of or pleased with me, His love remains the same.
Now here is the question… Do I really believe this? Do I really believe that God’s love for me remains the same, even when I trample it?
YES! I really believe that no matter what I do, God’s love for me will remain the same. When I sin, when I fail, when I turn to my own way and cause pain to myself and others, His active love for me is unchanged. His love springs from the divine will of His character, and thus does not waver. However, when I do those things, I CAN, and often DO, grieve His heart.
“Let the thief no longer steal… Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths… And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Eph. 4:28-31)
GREEK: “Lupeite” = “To make sad or sorrowful, to afflict with sorrow.”
“For he said, ‘Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely.’ And he became their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit” (Isa. 63:8-10a)
HEBREW: “Awtsab” = “To worry, pain, anger, displease, grieve, hurt”
Some commentators seem to say that God does not feel pain or sorrow as we do, but only offense at His holiness. Frankly, I don’t believe them. We have so many examples both in the narrative and prophetic accounts of Scripture that speak to God’s capacity to feel deeply, that to imagine a God unable to feel pain as we imagine seems to remove Him to the cold, distant lengths of plain Deism, rather than draw Him close as the jealous lover He claims to be.
No, my God loves fully, and hurts deeply when I fail Him, but His love remains with His children even, and especially, in the midst of their failure and despair.
Do I realize how freeing this is? In a world that SCREAMS at me to earn my keep, to prove my worth, to work for love and acceptance, I am held close in the embrace of nail-scarred hands, drawn up to the pierced side of a wounded God who spent all He had to make a way for me, His child, to come home. He paved the road with His own body, painted the signposts with His own blood, and waits for me, every day, to come home again.
Come home, my soul, and be redeemed again. “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:22-23)