For God so loved the world… (v. 16).
One of the most heartbreaking experiences of my pastoral ministry was watching a child suffer with cancer. She was an exceptional young girl: beautiful, bright, full of life, and talented beyond her years. A loving God and the existence of childhood cancer seem contradictory.
Our church prayed for this child without ceasing as she underwent one treatment after another. I often found myself pleading with the Almighty: Please, God, cure her of this disease. Please don’t allow her to die.
I had this young friend in mind as I attended an evening worship service at the CBF General Assembly one summer. When the choir sang John Stainer’s anthem “God So Loved the World,” tears flooded my eyes. As I listened to this well-known verse lifted in song, a peace suddenly came over me. Through the music, I was able to hear this well-known Scripture in a fresh way. God loves this suffering child far more than I could ever imagine.
After visiting with her family on the day she died, I drove back to the church. Once in the parking lot, I stayed seated in my car, crying uncontrollably. When I finally looked up, I noticed a beautiful butterfly dancing around the azalea bushes outside the church office. In that instant I realized that this beloved child was at that moment as beautiful, bright, and full of life as she had ever been. How do I know? Because God so loved the world.
What life experience has caused you to doubt God’s love? What experience led you to affirm it?
Holy God, we can never thank you enough for your overwhelming, unrelenting love for us. Thank you, Jesus, thank you. Amen.