Sara and I are set to arrive home today from our seven-week trip across the middle part of the United States. This trip has been remarkable and challenging in so many ways, but in all, well worth it. We’ve shared the ups and downs with our podcast audience in the last few weeks and won’t reiterate them here. Sara joins me for the podcast coming up this Friday.
One of the things we’ve been doing during our long driving days is to discuss putting a book together with our story of the last year and a half. We hope to encourage people who navigate some dark waters to find Jesus there and let him reverse the effects of the trauma or sin that has overwhelmed them.
To help with our recollection, we began to listen to our original seven Redeeming Love podcasts, where Sara and I tell that story close to the time those events unfolded. It’s been a bit surreal to hear us talk about events that shaped our lives in ways we could not have foreseen and now enjoying the fruit of all that pain and the joy that has come of it.
In the first, I tell a story that I had forgotten. It was in the earliest days when my agony was almost unbearable. My friend Luis saw me at my lowest, in those moments of hopelessness where I had no thought Sara would return, and I would somehow have to craft a life without her. Though God had seemingly promised me otherwise, the visible evidence was overwhelmingly against that happening. He sat with me through many tears and painful silences.
One morning, he came to my house, deeply touched by a dream he had the night before. In the dream, he sat on a park bench with Jesus, asking Jesus if he could take my pain away. “I could,” Jesus responded. “but I can’t take his pain away without taking his love away.”
I was blown away when he told me. I have never wanted to embrace pain or love more than I did at that moment. I wanted both. I wanted to love Sara deeply and, simultaneously hold the agony of missing her as the circumstances would still unfold. Avoiding pain would not help me love her. And I discovered that God’s love is bigger than my most hopeless moments and can hold me in the midst of them.
If there were ever a prayer I am glad God did not answer, it would be the one. I wouldn’t have volunteered to give up my love to save me that pain. Today, it makes me wonder how many prayers I have offered to God that, had he answered, would have had unforeseeable consequences. When we pray for things we want, we are often clueless about the harm doing so might cause for ourselves or others.
It also appears we are saying goodbye to our beloved golden retriever, Abby, after nearly thirteen years of enjoying her presence in our family. It will hurt deeply when she leaves us, but the depth of pain only testifies to the extent of love we have for her. I wouldn’t have skipped those thirteen years not to feel the grief that will come with her passing. I will embrace that grief as a testimony of the love and life we have shared.
Love is a pain. But knowing it is even sweetens the pain it causes. And having God’s comfort inside that pain makes the unbearable bearable.
C.S. Lewis said, “If you love deeply, you’re going to get hurt badly. But it’s still worth it.”
That it is.
A reminder: Chapter 5 will be the focus of our next gathering of the He Loves Me Book Discussion, which will take place this Saturday, October 28, at 11 a.m. Pacific Time. You can find the link for this conversation on the Group Page on Facebook, or if you are not a member of Facebook, you can write me for a link. The conversations are held and recorded on Zoom. We stream them live on my Facebook Author Page for those who don’t want to be in the Zoom discussion, and you’ll find our previous conversations there.