Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? — 1 Corinthians 15:55
We can bear a sadness that enriches the tapestry of our lives woven with its imperfections of beauty. ~ Stasi
Welcome to our final week of the Unwavering: Living with Defiant Joy Online Bible Study!
It’s all about love.
Love is not an accident. It’s a choice. Some people talking about falling in love when really it’s an intentional jump. One that if you’ve lived and loved long enough, can be a daunting one to make, right?
Because, let’s face it, love is hard. It is painful. It’s risky and we eventually learn to expect grievous losses and also cruel betrayals from those we chose to love.
Our hearts stretch to the bursting point in profound loss, don’t they? They expand almost beyond bearing. It is a sorrow that our Father knows well. It is a suffering that our Jesus would not spare us from. It a pain that is born from loving. ~ Stasi
We wish it weren’t this way, but everyone who loves will someday stand before a casket. Everyone who loves will someday face disloyalty. Everyone who loves will be hurt. Especially in this broken place. We are made for much, much more than this world so often and plentifully offers. Everyone knows this deep in their hearts which is why we ache. The Bible is a treasure trove of instruction about how to be responsible with our hearts and how to not be foolish in our choices.
There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having the form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. — 2 Timothy 3:1-5
People can be great, right? And then, people can also be… not great. But, we can stem some of the pain of living in a world full of self-lovers instead of others-lovers by being wise in what we choose. And being wise in what we do not choose. It’s for the sake of our hearts, which Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard above all else because everything we do flows from it.
As Christians must remember that no matter what, we are loved. In the face of the chasmic loss of a loved one or human failure to be faithful, we mustn’t forget that we are so deeply loved.
Nothing and no one could ever change the deepest truth of the universe… and that is that you are held as the treasure of God’s heart. ~ Stasi
It has to be ok to be sad sometimes. Because we so often are. And, of course we are! We are constantly surrounded by the tell-tale signs of a fallen world. ~ Stasi
Being loved by God is the balm of the sadness we face.
If we don’t remember how wild and wide His love is, we can blaze right past grief and tears (totally appropriate) and grow cynical, bitter, and fatalistic (not healthy). We can shut down, and batten down the hatches, a lock up tight, and never allow our hearts to deeply feel again or jump in again to forge a new friendship or community in which our souls can thrive and flourish! No! Jesus is with us walking through every winding, thorny turn and His call, His example, is to love. And be loved.
We’re meant to live in community. In close proximity to others. And with a few, even more intimately. ~ Stasi
Here’s the good news. Really, it’s great news: No matter what we’ve experienced in our pasts, no matter how much messed up people have messed up our hearts, and even in the healing of bereavement, there are so many mature, Christ-like, fun, and wonderful people to team up with in friendship, become a “framily”, and do life together in a joyful and safe community of believers! This is fantastic news!
We’re built for love, to love and be loved, to enjoy loving and being loved, to rejoice in our wonderful, sometimes messy, beautiful, joyful love relationships and precious, loving friendships.
Remember, you are already outrageously, wholly, fully, wildly loved by God. Yes, He will let you be hurt for the sake of love, but that’s not the end of the story. And, the joy of love that lasts and grows your heart and strengthens your faith will be worth it!
Failure and defeat, sorrow and pain, loss and decay do not and will not have the final word. We will overcome. And, when we proclaim that in the midst of despair, we have overcome already. ~ Stasi
This week in your study:
- Watch the video for session one on our study home page or live with other participants … Take notes in your study guide on pages 99-101.
- Go through the study questions with your group or on your own on pages 102-107.
- Read Chapters 11-12 in Defiant Joy.
- Enjoy your personal study this week on pages 108-117.
- Come to the watch party on Monday at 8pm CST.
- Join the conversations in our private Facebook group!
Scriptures this Week
1 Corinthians 15:55
Prayer for the Week
Jesus, we love You. Thank You, God, that loss and sorrow do not have the final word. Thank You that in You we will overcome. When we choose to live with joy we look more like You and we love those around us better. Help us to live wisely, to love wholeheartedly, and to honor You in the way that we love others and lay our lives down for them. Thank You for loving us, Jesus. We love You. Amen.