As I write this a very good friend of mine is struggling with wave after wave of hard news. Her husband has been laid off from a job he held for 27 years, she had a suspicious mammogram, their home AC has gone out, and they had to put down a family pet. No tragedies, yet, but plenty of hard stuff—the stuff that makes you ask “Why, God?” or “Are You there, God? Do You notice these things? Do You care?”
“In the world of pain there is a need for love, a real, real need for love… Love your brother… a need of love, a need of heart.” These words, translated from the famous song by the Colombian singer Juanes, paint a picture of humanity’s universal need for love.1 “Everybody needs love” rang out another song from the sixties.2 And with the countless social conflicts, outbreaks of violence, cries of outrage, the scourge of the pandemic, along with the “viruses” of selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-service and other diseases of our times, what we need most is love.
Charity, an Activated reader for many years, had a well-paying job in the banking industry. She had recently finished her second master’s degree from a prestigious international university. She had then given birth to a set of twins, a boy and a girl. But rather than being elated, Charity was gazing tearfully through the glass of the incubator, gazing at the little form of her sleeping son.
After 21 years of marriage, I discovered a new way of keeping the spark of love alive.
A little while ago I went out with another woman.
It was really my wife’s idea.
“I know that you love her,” she said one day, taking me by surprise.
About six years ago we moved to a new neighborhood. Since arriving, we’ve tried to be friendly with our neighbors and show kindness. We greet them with a smile, ask how they are, and several times we prepared pizza and delivered it to them as a sign of friendship. We thought we were doing well in showing our neighbors we care. But then we met Nilda.
There is a story about two brothers who enlisted in the army during World War I and were assigned to the same unit. They were soon sent to the frontline trenches. In WWI trench warfare, each side dug a network of trenches along the frontline of their territory, then laid siege to the other side’s trenches. From time to time, one side or the other launched an offensive to try to break through the enemy’s lines.
When it comes to the environment and climate change, it’s easy to mentally block out the topic entirely and decide that there’s nothing we can do about it—or foist the responsibility on someone else, relieving ourselves of the obligation. But God gave us the responsibility to take care of His creation, not just out of duty, but out of love for Him and His creatures. “The Lord God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.”1 That’s the main factor that has motivated me to be more ecologically mindful.
When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount,1 one of the most quoted orations of all time, He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
So what is a peacemaker? A peacemaker is someone who comes into a situation that is stressful, angry, or disturbed and creates peace. This is hard and requires courage.
John sighed as he pushed his cart forward in the queue and glanced at his phone’s clock for the third time. 40 minutes already! How long can this take? A technical issue had developed in several of the supermarket’s tills, and the store’s customers were directed to queue in front of the only one that still worked. And I only have a few items, he thought, I don’t know if I can still make it to the appointment in time. The afternoon traffic will get worse—
Have you ever experienced some particular problem or pain that surprised you by how debilitating it was? Perhaps it was a sore toe or an earache that outwardly seemed small, but it made your day a major struggle. Then along comes someone who says, “I get infections in my ear all the time, and it’s uncomfortable but I don’t let it bother me. You just need to stay positive and keep going.” Well, though we do need to strive to “give thanks in all circumstances,”1 trying to keep your head above water may be difficult for you at these times.