I don’t like walking into a room without any light—pitch black. I’ll fully and carefully caress the walls around my entry point searching for the light switch that makes navigating the perils of the room possible. And if children have been in there before me, I know there are toys and kid structures lurking that either I will hurt or which will hurt me.
If I have to go forward without illumination, then I take on the “I am a shuffling ninja!” posture. I slide my feet as if ice skating, wary of damaging plastic figures and cars, yet extend my arms as if Kato from the Pink Panther films was about to attack.
Yes, I am Peter Sellers when the lights are out. Frankly, even when they’re on.
The truth is that everyday is like walking into a dark room of unknown danger, and there’s never enough light, never enough understanding or ninja skill to avoid pain. However, there is one thing, one amazing, better-than-anything-ever-invented piece of reality that you and I do get: God’s love. That keeps and enables us through it all.
In the last 24 hours here’s what I have encountered: a woman who is enduring the pain of having recently lost a twin in childbirth. She will always wonder “Why me?” On the way home from a church gathering I passed by a five car accident, and saw the pain of a woman holding her face with blood-stained hands. And she wonders, “Why me?” And just now I saw on the news that an amazing, one of a kind, rookie pitcher for the Washington Nationals, who came to the team right out of high school, has just torn his shoulder and will require immediate surgery, keeping him out of baseball for 12-18 months, perhaps ending his flash-in-the-pan career. You know he has to wonder, “Why me?”
We know that we will all meet with pain and stunned questioning throughout our days—there is no escaping it. Work as hard as we can, pray as hard as we might, and “Why me?” events will break through anyway. What will get you and me through is God’s love. While a good attitude, a solid support group, and decent health care help in times of trouble, it has been and always will beknowing God’s love that makes noble conquerers out of victims.
Love is famously described in 1 Corinthians 13: love is patient and kind, it doesn’t envy or boast, it isn’t proud or rude, it isn’t self-seeking or easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, it doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth, and it always protects, trusts, hopes and perserveres—it never fails. But that’s not what we’re supposed to do—here’s how Christians should behave—it’s what love is. And love, God’s love, is best seen and known in Romans 8. That’s the passage which describes what keeps us and makes us spectacular in the “Why me?” events of our days.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)
Look, there’s a lot about sorrow and suffering in the New Testament, some of which comes with the specific purpose that Jesus’ life—His loves and desires and feelings and abilities—may be revealed in us and through us. (2 Corinthians 4:7-12) That’s an amazing and incredibly honorable fact of our days in this age. Really! But what keeps us secure and noble as we face death and are considered by some as “sheep to be slaughtered,” is knowing and trusting God’s love for us—and knowing it for yourself.
Wanting to know His love is the best desire and prize of my life. It shapes my days, channels my efforts and focuses my hopes in the midst of uncertain and dangerous times. God’s love—for me and for you—is my favorite effect of having Him living in me. Frankly, I wish that after God made His home in me in 1980, His entrance meant I could figure out and avoid all of the ugly and painful pitfalls of life. I often attempted to employ angels and God Himself toward making my days worthy of a video memorial—“Ralph Harris: A Man Admired By God.”
That’s not happening.
What is happening is that I am growing in the joy and grace and purpose of God’s love for me. And God’s love always affects the people who know it best. It won’t be hidden, it won’t be denied, it won’t fail.
And for this shuffling ninja, God’s love is the way forward.