The Upper Room devotional reflection for Thursday, June 2, 2022 comes to us from Enric Ainsa i Puig of Aragon, Spain
9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. John 15:9-17 NIV
A few months ago, my wife and I were at a restaurant with another couple, and we were able to talk with them about our faith. The wife told us that she did not have a relationship with God, and she did not want to have one because she had experienced the tragic deaths of her father and her brother in a car accident years ago. She did not understand how there could be a God, given the pain she and her mother felt from those losses. In that moment, I only knew to tell her that I could not imagine the pain they felt but that as a father of two children, I could perceive the depth of their loss.
Days later, during my prayer time, I kept asking myself, What answer could I give to that woman and her mother about who God is? I felt God telling me that God is not rigid and indifferent. God endures the pain and death of people much like we do. And I wished I could have explained that truth to the woman. Because to me, God’s act of love in sacrificing his son for our sins and the pain of that loss means that God understands and stands with us in our grief. And perhaps the experience of such a painful loss that woman and her mother suffered could help them understand our loving God more deeply.
As our nation mourns so many violent, senseless deaths in our schools, in other public places, and in war zones around the world, many of us – including this pastor -- are wondering where God might be in all this horror. I believe that is important to remember that, as Pastor Anthony preached Sunday morning, followers of Christ are “Lambs Among Wolves”. Further, he said, “Jesus was a radical agent of transformation, who sought to bring balance to a world unbalanced by the prevalence of sin.
As followers of Christ, we are called to be radical agents of change and transformation in order to take steps to make our world better for those who follow us. We are tasked to advocate for the marginalized and mobilize in collaborative efforts to change the incivility of our civic reality. Yes, we are sent out into the world as lambs among wolves, but not as prey for predators. Rather, we are sent as beacons of the grace and power of the Good Shepherd. We are lambs among wolves, to be beacon of hope and healing.” I invite you to consider ways in which we can become “beacons of hope and healing” together as witnesses for Christ in our world.
God of Love, help us to understand and remain deeply aware of your love for us so we can share your hope with those who are suffering. In your son Jesus’ name. Amen.
--Enric Ainsa i Puig
To Show God’s Love through Listening
Thought for the Day:
Even through suffering, I will remember God’s Love.
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIV)