We love each other because he loved us first. - 1 John 4:19 NLT
I’ve seen my fair share of trials and suffering in life. I’ve often questioned why I had to go through whatever I was dealing with and wondered what good would come of it. In almost all of these situations, I’ve seen outward fruit: someone learning from what I went through, others coming to know Jesus because of a conversation started after my mother passed away, and more of Jesus’ character developed in me. I like to think I’ve always had a loving and caring personality, but I don’t think I really knew what it meant to love and care for someone until I experienced love in some of my darkest moments. In January of 2016, I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder. This diagnosis came after a long battle with depression and a suicide attempt. I was in a dark hole that I couldn’t see myself getting out of. I certainly wasn’t loving myself. Through others loving me unconditionally in that time of suffering (and several other times of suffering since), I was able to see and learn what the love of Jesus was really like. Now, I’m not going to claim to be a perfect Christian by any means - and I certainly have times where I fail to love and care for others as I should - but I’d like to think that, because of the suffering I have endured, I can show others the loving and caring heart of Jesus through my words and actions. I think it takes going through a really hard season of life to understand just how important it is for someone to feel loved. At least, that’s what it took for me. Jesus exemplifies an unending, unconditional type of love. His love knows no boundaries and does not waver on whether or not you’re “having a good day." And that’s the way I try to love others. Because I’ve known Jesus’ love in my darkest moments, I can show that same love to others. And so can you. Take heart in this, friends: if you let Him, Jesus will grow you through your suffering to look more and more like Him in your actions if you let Him. He will give you His heart for others because you’ve seen His heart for you. And after all, it should be our desire as Christians to have our lives look more like Jesus’ life each day - in every good day and bad day, every season of life, He can and will give you His heart so you can do so. We love each other because He first loved us. In the dark, in the light, I encourage you to love like He loves. Reflection 1. Think about a time in your life where you were suffering through whatever circumstance. How did/does knowing Jesus’ love help you through that? 2. How have you learned to love others because of something you’ve experienced in life? Prayer Jesus, thank You for loving me, especially when I couldn’t love myself or felt like I least deserved it. And thank You for putting people in my life to show me Your love in my times of suffering and trials. Would You give me Your heart for others? Would You allow me to show others Your love as others have shown it to me? Your unconditional love knows no boundaries and I thank You for that, Jesus. I pray that others will be able to see You through me in their times of suffering as I have. I love You, Jesus. Amen.
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