Life is complicated and sometimes confusing. We might not be feeling good about ourselves or we are going through some challenging circumstances. We might even feel some guilt or shame for something we did. It doesn’t look hopeful. And we don’t feel we have much faith.
Paul wrote In I Corinthians 13:8, now abides faith, hope and charity, but the greatest of these is charity. In this verse charity means the Love of God. And in this text – it also means our love for God. A few years ago, as a church staff member, I counseled many sincere parishioners who struggled with guilt, doubt, and discouragement. At the close of the counseling sessions, I frequently asked a question that went something like, I know you feel you have little hope, and your faith is low, but I must ask, can you honestly say that you love God? Virtually without fail, the answer was yes – I love God. I asked this question because I wanted those who were going through difficult times to be assured that their relationship with God was still in tact and they were not forsaken. And that although their faith and hope might wane at any given moment their love for God and His love for them will never fail! I knew that if they could hang on to this they would eventually find new pathways of hope and faith.
As people of faith, we have not always pleased God, but we know we love God. The Scripture sums up this contradiction between pleasing God and loving God; that the the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. This is one of the realities of being human and normal. We fail more than we should. And more often than we want. Yet, our love for God is always the same. The love of God never fails even though we fail. We also, lose hope and faith when things get tough or go wrong. Yet, we find comfort knowing that we love God and God loves us. Faith and hope may fail but our love for God and His love for us – never fails!
I have been working at being a Christian for many decades. There has been some red-letter successes and equally disturbing failures for me. Most of my progress has been incremental, and surprisingly slower than I have wanted and expected. Yet, I am happy with how far I have come, but I also have along way to go to be as pleasing to God as I want to be. These days I catch myself praying something like this: “There are so many times I have not been what I should have been, nor have things worked out for me as I wanted, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that – I love You – and You love me. At times my faith has been low and I have not trusted You the way I should have. But I know I love you no matter what. And I know You love me no matter what…” At least for me, there is much comfort and assurance in knowing that love never fails!
Joseph C. Hutchison