Love Feast or Pity-Party?
By Andrea Herzer
“May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5
Have you ever had someone criticize you in such a way that their words felt like arrows leveled straight to your heart? It can hurt deeply. Recently, during a visit with a person I dearly love, a few unkind comments were made towards me. These unseen arrows flew straight out of an angry spirit and hit their mark.
I was wounded, but I carefully examined the harm by rehashing the hurtful comments in my mind. This only began a path toward further discouragement, and soon my wound felt beyond repair. I needed a basic and necessary tool for wound-healing: a clear light to examine it under.I needed God’s Word, “a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105). Only then could I treat it by applying a healing salve.
The wonderful thing about God’s Word is that it is both a light and a salve. When we apply it to our lives — and our wounds — we receive healing.
When I prayed about the issue, the following scripture came to mind: “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). I knew I needed this, so I asked for it by saying “Lord, please direct my heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” Instead of allowing my wounded heart to direct my thoughts, I allowed God to direct my heart that my thoughts could follow. I began to meditate on the “wide and long and high and deep” love that God has for me in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:18)
God’s love in Christ is abundant and all-sufficient! The Greek word used for love in today’s verse is agapēn, related to the word agapé, and it represents a love that shows benevolence, generosity and helpfulness to the needy and suffering. I certainly needed this kind of love, as feelings of rejection and pain had led to ruminating thoughts that caused me to suffer. But when I plaster the walls of my mind with thoughts about the harm done to me, I do not create a mindset of healing. This type of thinking only creates a well-decorated pity-party!
God loves us too much to leave us alone in a pity-party of our own making. He invites us to a different kind of party; He invites us to a love feast! Did you know that agapé, in its plural form, is used in relation to the term “love feasts” in the New Testament? These were the feasts that took place in the early church before the celebration of Communion. Instead of having a pity-party I can choose to direct my heart into the love-feast that God has provided for me. You can, too! God’s love is enough for your need; His love is always generous and well-meaning towards you. Feast on what He says about you in His Word; He loved you so much that “He gave His one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Let God bring healing to your pain as you feast your thoughts on His love for you.
As you read this, you might be thinking, “But I have been hurt so many times! Remembering God’s love for me in the face of people’s rejection won’t bring comfort.” You may feel that you need a person who can relate to your pain and suffering; only then will you feel comforted. You need a person who “was despised and rejected — a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3) . May God direct your wounded heart straight into the perseverance of Jesus Christ, who was also rejected by those he loved. The Greek word for perseverance used in today’s verse is hupomone. It is one of my favorite words in the Bible, aside from the name of Jesus. This word means more than just perseverance; it implies remaining under difficult situations or challenges while patiently and steadfastly enduring them. Jesus Christ suffered this way for us, leaving us an example so we can follow in his steps. (See 1 Peter 2:21-24)
Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Remember that because of the joy that awaited him, he endured the cross! Think of all that Jesus endured from those who hurt him, and follow his example, so you will not become weary and give up. (See Hebrews 12:1-3) When you are hurt, may you avoid harmful thoughts and bitterness by going straight to the light of His Word. It is my hope and prayer that your heart will always be directed to the healing comfort of God’s generous love and to the patient endurance of Jesus Christ.
Having spent the past two decades enduring life with multiple illnesses, including Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Andrea Herzer is intimately acquainted with the hardships that accompany debilitating health issues. She writes devotionals on her Facebook Group (Abundant Life for Abundant Illness) to help others find the pathway to living a life that overflows with the riches of God’s sustaining love even in the midst of pain and suffering. Andrea is currently completing her first devotional book, The Way Through Illness.
For More Great Resources for Women, Visit iBelieve's Faith Channel.