Loving When It’s Not Easy – Encouragement Café – January 22

Loving When It’s Not Easy
 By Savannah Parvu

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven… Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV)

As children of Christ we are called to love one another. Jesus commands us in John 13:34-35 to love one another. He says,

As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (NIV)

Does that mean that we only love some people? No, it means that we are to love everyone. Jesus didn’t pick and choose who He loved. He loved everyone.

There are people in our lives that we love with all our heart. These people may be our spouses, children, friends, parents, siblings, etc… The people that we are closest to are the easiest to love.  We love them and care for them and want them in our lives. 

What about the people that aren’t so easy to love? What about the people that have caused us a great deal of harm and that always mistreat and degrade us? Are we supposed to love them? 

The answer is, Yes! 

Jesus tells us in the book of Matthew that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you. When we are hurt by someone, loving them is not an easy thing to do, but it’s what we are called to do. 

They need to be shown the love of Christ just like the person that we love most. Your loving them may be what it takes for them to see that Christ loves them and they are truly loved.

Take some time today to think about the people in your life. Are there people in your life that you do not love, maybe someone that has hurt you, a broken relationship? Pray about ways that you can show those people how much God loves them. Love them and pray for them.

Dear God, thank You so much for loving us. You love us so much that You died on the cross for our sins and for that I am forever grateful. None of us deserve Your love, but You give it to us anyway. Help us to love others in the way that You would have us to love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

© 2021 by Savannah Parvu.  All rights reserved.

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Do You Want Me? by Park York I rise early on this Friday, as I do every day, to prepare coffee and mix a protein shake. The television news plays quietly in the corner. Flossie, my wife, is still asleep. Sometime after eight, she begins floating out of slumber. I bring the shake to her bedside, put the straw in her mouth, and give her cheek a little pat as she begins to drink. Slowly the liquid recedes. I sit there holding the glass, thinking about the past eight years. At first, she asked only an occasional incoherent or irrelevant question; otherwise she was normal. I tried for two years to find out what was wrong. She grew agitated, restless, defensive; she was constantly tired and unable to hold a conversation. At last, a neurologist diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. He said he wasn’t sure—a firm diagnosis could come only from examining brain tissue after death. There is no known cause for this malady. And no known cure. I enrolled Flossie in a day care center for adults. But she kept wandering off the property. We medicated her to keep her calm. Perhaps from receiving too much of one drug, she suffered a violent seizure that left her immeasurably worse: lethargic, incontinent, and unable to speak clearly or care for herself. My anguish gradually became resignation. I gave up all plans of retirement travel, recreation, visits to see grandchildren—the golden era older people dream about. The years have passed, and my days have become routine, demanding, lonely, seemingly without accomplishment to measure. Flossie has gradually dropped in strength and weight, from 125 pounds to 86. I take some time to work with a support group and to attend church, but the daily needs keep me feeding, bathing, diapering, changing beds, cleaning house, fixing meals, dressing and undressing her, and doing whatever else a nurse and homemaker does, morning to night. Occasionally, a word bubbles up from the muddled processes of Flossie’s diseased brain. Sometimes relevant, sometimes the name of a family member, or the name of an object. Just a single word. On this Friday morning, after she finishes her shake, I give her some apple juice, then massage her arms and caress her forehead and cheeks. Most of the time her eyes are closed, but today she looks up at me, and suddenly her mouth forms four words in a row. “Do you want me?” Perfect enunciation, softly spoken. I want to jump for joy. “Of course I want you, Flossie!” I say, hugging and kissing her. And so, after months of total silence, she has put together the most sincere question a human being can ask. She speaks, in a way, for people everywhere: those shackled by sin, addiction, hunger, thirst, mental illness, physical pain—frightened, enervated people afraid of the answer, but desperate enough to frame the question anyway. And, Flossie, I can answer you even more specifically. It may be difficult for you to understand what’s happening. That’s why I’m here, to minister God’s love to you, to bring you wholeness, comfort, and release. Mine are the hands God uses to do His work, just as He uses others’ hands in other places. In spite of our shortcomings, we strive to make people free, well, and happy, blessing them with hope for the future while bringing protein shakes every morning. Looking ahead… Unlike so many people today, this gentleman who so gently cared for his wife clearly understood the meaning of commitment. As her mind and body deteriorated with no hope for a cure, he willingly abandoned the hopes and dreams he had worked to achieve. She needed him desperately, and he would be there for her, even though she could give nothing back—not even a rational “thank you.” This, in all its magnificence— and sorrow—is the meaning of love. No doubt you have dreams of your own for the rest of your married life. Just remember that God may have other plans that depend on your unswerving commitment to each other—no matter what. – James C Dobson From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved. “Do You Want Me?” by Park York. Taken from the June 1989 issue of the Christian Herald. Reprinted by permission of the Christian Herald.

Power and Powerlessness – Daughters of Promise – January 22


And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’  Luke 4:5-8

If I’m struck with a disease no one can cure, I feel powerless. If I’m trapped in a loveless marriage, I feel powerless. If I’m languishing under a mountain of debt and there is no way to repay it, I feel powerless.

Powerlessness drives me to edge of utter despair. Feeling powerless is not a sin but what I choose to believe next determines whether faith will live or die.

Was Jesus struck with the temptation to feel powerless? I suspect the answer is yes when I consider that a wilderness is not something anyone can control. Jesus was powerless against a place with no water, no food, and no shelter. Powerlessness was another one of Satan’s attacks against Jesus. Just as Satan wanted Him to feed Himself prematurely by turning stones to bread, He also wanted Jesus to assume power and authority prematurely so there would be no need to go to the cross. But Jesus knew that suffering comes before glory.

Was He tempted to ease the pain of powerlessness by taking Satan’s bait? If He was tempted in every way that we are, I believe the answer is yes. But He understood that the avenue to this premature authority would mean satanic worship. Jesus, once again, saw through the lure, chose suffering, and quoted scripture to silence His tempter. He served the enemy legal papers by reminding him that there is only one God to worship.

Many never pray until they feel powerless. There is only One who is mighty to save when all else fails. Waiting for His salvation is the hard part. We never know if God’s saving hand will be immediate or deferred. We know that in some cases, our own glory also comes after suffering.

In whatever ways you are tempted to give up waiting on God today to go for some man-made, Satan-endorsed, remedy….stop. Your way of coping simply might be to stop hoping and to succumb to numbing despair. But those who hope in God will never be put to shame. Each of us could benefit by looking into the face of what traps us today to declare the following ~ “I am small and powerless but I rest in the hands of my powerful God. Never have I been safer. Never have I had a greater panorama of options.”

I don’t need to see. You look over the top of my cage and plan my victory. Amen

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