What’s the hardest thing to believe in all scripture? I think it’s the promise of God’s unfailing love for us. St. Paul wrote that nothing “can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.”1 We hear the affirmation “God loves you.” Yet there’s a difference between hearing and believing.
The struggle comes from various directions. Perhaps we assume God is too distant to care. Or maybe we think we’re unlovable. Or we expect to “feel” loved by God, but the emotion is absentee. Most troubling of all is the suggestion that we’ve got a lot of real-life evidence weighing against the claim of pervasive Divine Compassion.
- How can you say God loves me when I lose my job?
- When my child suffers?
- When my spouse dies?
- How can a loving God tolerate tornadoes, pandemics, wars, and starvation?
- How am I supposed to locate the love of God in the debris of a world filled with such trauma?
Divine Compassion? Where’s the evidence?
- Maybe look to springtime: new life invading the earth, sprouting a thousand greens adorned with wildflowers.
- See God’s love in majestic mountains, beautiful trees, sunsets of gold.
- In the joy of a forever lover.
- In the hopefulness of a child’s birth.
- In Sunday Communion.
Richard Rohr, the contemplative Franciscan, speaks of something that happened to him while on a personal retreat at a Kentucky abbey. Walking down a trail, he came across a recluse — a hermit’s hermit — who surprisingly stopped and spoke. “Richard,” he said, “you get chances to preach and I don’t. When you’re . . . preaching, just tell the people one thing. God is not ‘out there.’”2
Of course God is “out there” — and everywhere else. But the recluse’s plea points to the more important truth: that God is within.
This Holy Week we may ponder the love of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter morning. That’s all very helpful. But the sacred rituals point to the reality that God’s love is not dwelling in some theoretical space or distant place: God’s love is within.
You are created in God’s image: you are in God, and God is in you, loving you endlessly, completely. Perhaps you can sense it. Maybe not. No matter.
Leap into the absurdity of faith:
- Keep remembering the Divine Presence.
- Keep repeating the reality of “God in me, loving endlessly.”
- Keep opening up to the possibility of Divine Compassion as a secret Spring within the soul.
Maybe this Holy Week can clear away some debris clogging the Spring. Perhaps the fingers of your soul can feel a trickle of cool water on the ground of your spirit. Maybe catch what bubbles up in your hand, take a swallow, drinking in the Living Water.
Let go of loneliness and fear. Open afresh to Divine Life within: to the truth of God alive in you, loving you endlessly, no matter what.
* Photograph by Michael Behrens at Unsplash.
2Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs, (Crossroad Publishing, 2003), p. 118.
2 thoughts on “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places”
You always write comforting words. Thank you.