And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.(Romans 5:5-8 NLT)
Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not. C.S. Lewis
The first time I remember reading Romans Chapter 5, verse 8 brought tears to my eyes. Prior to coming to real faith in Christ, I was addicted to alcohol and drugs. I had lost jobs and most of my friends. My body was suffering badly from the effects of my addictions. Then I discovered that God would forgive me, clean me up, and free me from my obsession. Somehow, when I read these verses, it dawned on my that he did all of this while I was still living in my cesspool. In fact, I was aggressively anti-God. I cursed Him, blamed Him for my failures, even denied His existence. Yet Christ died for me. It gave me just a tiny glimmer of the kind of love God has for me. It changed me.
The big lesson here is not just that God loves me, but that He loved me when I was unlovely. His love for me is not a result of anything in me. Unlike human love, He is not attracted by physical beauty or strength. Intelligence and wit do not move Him. He extended to me an offer of forgiveness, purchased at a terrible price, for reasons that are seated in Him, not in me. He loves me as I am just because of who He is. Mind-boggling. My behavior does not affect His love for me.
A few months after this, I experienced a physical healing in response to prayer. I was thrilled! Then some of my Christian friends began to tell me that God doesn’t always heal. In fact, they indicated that God sometimes would make me sick, even allow me to die, in order to teach me, or somehow give Him glory by my suffering. I didn’t believe it. It seemed obvious to me that the God who went to all the trouble to reach out to a mess like me, forgive my sin, see me safely through withdrawals, save my job, restore my mental capacity, and heal my damaged liver would have better sense than to then kill me with cancer or some other horror. About the time I might be of some use to somebody and of service to God, why would He decide to just up and kill me? God is not dumb, malicious, or capricious. He is love.
You see, the love of God, that love that defines who He is, is the motivation for reaching out to save sinners. It’s that same love that moves Him to provide the means of physical health. He makes me whole because He loves me. It’s not because of me. I am no great prize now, and I certainly wasn’t then. Neither are you. Fortunately, that’s not the ground of your healing. The hope that doesn’t disappoint is based on a love that offered Jesus Christ while you were still cursing God and living like the devil. That love doesn’t change. Knowing that God loves you that much may not heal you but knowing it and believing it will surely move you in that direction. Take a minute to chew on this:
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? (Romans 8:31-32 NLT)
Don’t just read it. Take time to answer the questions. Do it out loud. God is for you. Jesus died for you when you were a sinner. He has taken care of the biggest possible need: salvation. He is not holding back on anything else. If Jesus died for me, then why would He hold back something as simple as my healing? That’s not how love operates. The source from which healing flows is the love of God.
NEXT STEP: It’s time to push forward to let God give you a personal revelation of His love for you. Not just a mental acknowledgment of the idea of sacrificial love, but one of those inside moments when you know it with all your being. For the next week, use Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 as a template to pray for yourself daily:
I pray that from Your glorious, unlimited resources You will empower me with inner strength through Your Spirit. Christ will make His home in my heart as I trust in Him. My roots will grow down into God’s love and keep me strong. And may I have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Your love is. May I experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then I will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.(Ephesians 3:16-19 NLT adapted)