Recently I met a refugee family who has demonstrated love in a way that goes beyond the usual experience in North America. They come from a country where it is illegal to change religions or influence anyone to change religions. When approached by two young men who were looking for an understanding of God, a Christian man gave them Bibles to read. After they read about the God who loved us so much that he let his son die and overcome death so that if we believe in him we will have eternal life, they chose to follow the God of love. They found new life in Christ.
The consequences of assisting at the birth of this new life were dire for this man and his wife and children. They faced serious death threats. Even after they fled to another country, they were incarcerated, the mother and the children for a short time and the father for five years.
Conditions in that prison were appalling. The father endured great stress. The mother and children knew great hardship as well living without him in the home. And yet everyone in the family says their love for God grew most during this time as they experienced his faithfulness and provision. They are truly beautiful people, and the love of God shines through tears as they tell their story.
Today I thought about the way love takes the risk of birth. My granddaughter asked me if childbirth hurts.
“It does,” I told her, “But the reward is so great that most women who have given birth once choose to give birth again because they know the joy of seeing new life and that love is greater than pain.”
My mother nearly died giving birth to me. I heard the story many times. The physical consequences for her lasted a lifetime. And yet she chose to give birth to my brother even when a doctor warned she could face problems again. She did it out of love for someone who would not understand the significance of her willingness to suffer for him until many years later.
As I think about it, I realize that the greatest force in the universe is love. It was love that motivated Jesus to suffer, die, and overcome death. It was love that sent my new friend to those men knowing that he could suffer and even die for doing so. It was love that sent my mother to the delivery room for the second time knowing she could suffer like the first time, or even die.
It is love whenever someone is willing to extend themselves beyond a low-risk comfort zone to make it possible for new life to begin and grow. Only the love of God is strong enough to overcome the fear of suffering or even death and cause a person to know they are loved even in the middle of severe trials. We can love because God loved us and gave us first mortal life, then the opportunity for eternal life through Jesus Christ.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV)
Creative Meditations for Lent, Word prompt: Love