Do you know how much God loves you? I mean, I know you’ve probably heard a preacher or someone tell you that, or have heard the song, “Jesus Loves Me,” but do you really know, deep down in your heart how loved you are?
I’m still amazed whenever I read or think about or realize how much God loves me. Even after all of the times I’ve messed up, or gotten angry and turned my back on Him, or the years when I lived in addiction – He never stopped loving me, or thought of me as less than anyone else.
I grew up being taught the notion that I was “lucky” if I could find a man who would help me out with the kids or the house, and that it was my job to take care of my husband. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not some hardcore feminazi or anything like that, and my husband and I love each other dearly. I am, by the way, blessed with a husband who is a good father, and we make a great team helping one another out.
But, why was I expected to take care of my husband, when and if I got married, but I was supposed to consider myself “lucky” if he helped take care of me and the kids? I guess the notion I walked away with was that as a woman I was lower on the priority list. My family didn’t attend church, or speak much about Biblical principles, so when I came to know Christ, and began studying His Word, I was amazed and continue to be amazed at how much He loves us. All of us.
The more I read the Word, the more I realize I’m not alone in the way I felt back then. Women in the Jewish culture were regarded much the same way. This wasn’t the way God intended, but was how the culture viewed women in society at that time. I think of many other cultures today around the world where women or minorities in that society are treated as second-class citizens based solely on their gender or ethnicity.
Yet, when we come to the story of the woman at the well in John 4, Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water.
The story continues in verse 9: “Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink”, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
He is telling her that He is not looking at gender or race, but that He is able to refresh and revive her soul. He breaks down those racial and gender barriers to look at who she is as a person. He knows that she is missing something in her life, as later in the exchange, as they get to talking more, He acknowledges that she has had five husbands, and that the man she is currently living with is not her husband.
He doesn’t say this to condemn her, but to point out her need for salvation. He also comes right out and tells her at the end of the chapter that He is the Messiah she has been looking for. How many of us indeed have tried to fill a void in our lives, with food, alcohol, drugs, relationships, work, things, etc.? Do you know that Jesus can fill the God-shaped void in your heart?
Even after I became a Christian, it was easy for me to fall back on tangible things and people rather than putting my full trust in God. For a long time, I didn’t. I trusted alcohol to take away the pain, or the boredom, or for confidence to mask my insecurities. But I found that after awhile, it turned on me and became my worst enemy, threatening to destroy all that I held dear. I realized that only God could give me the joy, the sense of purpose, the security and the comfort that I was always looking for.
We see again God’s great love and mercy in John 21. Peter had not too long ago denied Jesus three times, and was probably still feeling guilty, even though by this time Jesus has risen from the dead and is again spending time with His disciples.
“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’
He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’
He said to Him, ‘Feed my lambs’ (John 21:15).”
Jesus goes on to ask Peter this question two more times, responding each time with “Tend my sheep,” or “Feed my sheep.” At one point in the passage (v 17), it states that Peter is “grieved” because the Lord keeps asking him this question. It’s hard for us to know what he was thinking here, but I’d guess that Peter was probably feeling ashamed, thinking that the Lord had a good reason to believe Peter didn’t love Him.
I think this passage is a good example of the Lord’s mercy. I believe that just as Peter denied Jesus three times, He is giving Peter the chance three times to tell Him that He loves Him. And He is letting Peter know that He still wants Peter to preach His Word, that He still wants to use him in ministry.
I just love this story, because it shows that God wants to use us too, no matter how badly we may have blown it in the past. In His hands, even our most embarrassing mistakes can be a great testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives.
Jesus loved all of us enough to die for us – men, women, old, young, every race and nationality. He simply says to all of us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).”
“Father, I thank You today that You loved me enough to die for me, and that You’ve promised You’ll never leave me or give up on me. I thank You that You still want to use me and my life for Your glory. Please be with each person reading this, and help him or her to know just how much You love them too. Help me to be a good steward of the time and blessings that You have given me. Help me to be a good wife and mom, too, Lord, that I won’t be selfish with my time or love toward my family, but that I will be the woman You created me to be, and that I will serve those I love out of a pure heart. I thank You that Your love for me doesn’t depend on how well I perform, and that I’m not graded on a curve. You know me inside and out, and because of Your faithfulness, I can always depend on You. Show me the way in which I should walk today, and may I give You the glory. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”