One of my friends asked:

“How do you truly love and trust again when you feel like everyone you have ever loved has hurt you?”

This question is so real and raw that I felt compelled to begin with it.

When God was beginning our faith-family, he gave me some statements that later formed our vision and values.

One of those statements was “everything begins and ends with the gospel.”

This question beautifully illustrates how powerfully true that God-given precept is.

Being a Jesus-follower is often painful, but it seems that in times of deep pain, his grace and the supernatural nature of our relationship with him is clearly manifest.

Jesus loved his disciples (his friends) well, and yet in the moments leading up to his profound pain and extreme anguish, all but one of them had completely abandoned him. Perhaps his friends’ treachery was on his mind when Jesus cried out “forgive them, for they know not what they do” in addition to his beautiful forgiveness of the brutal crowd.

After his resurrection, we see Jesus seeking to communicate forgiveness to those friends who had wounded him most deeply. We even see him seeking out Peter (who had explicitly denied Christ) to restore him to ministry.

The foundation for all this was love. Real, authentic, unconditional love; in God’s economy love is something that you give—regardless of what you get.

This seems extremely idealistic (and it is); truthfully, it goes against everything that we are by nature.  Ultimately, the only way to achieve this new-life love is to trade in our life for his. We see his life overpower ours, area by area, as we are sanctified—changed into his likeness.

We can only trust others when our trust isn’t in them at all. We trust our sovereign, good, and living God. We must re-learn that Jesus hasn’t failed us and he is still worthy of our trust. We learn to recognize that when those closest to us break our trust, we are walking down the pain-filled but joy-filled path of Christ-likeness. If our ultimate good is more God, then the pain that provides closer relationship with him and deeper dependence upon him is a gift rather than a curse.

Through supernatural union with God, we find real security and we find ourselves fully satisfied.

We no longer find ourselves putting the weight of our ultimate security and satisfaction on the shoulders of those around us who simply can’t bear the strain. We are then free to enjoy each other as gifts from God, rather than destroying one another; setting each other up for failure as “little-g” gods.

There will be people in your life who don’t understand this. They will want you to trust in them as you trust in God—don’t do it.

On the other hand, you may feel prone to draw back from the trust necessary to engage in honest relationships and authentic community; don’t believe the lie that you are doing this because you find all that you need in God. God says that you need community. Trusting him will free you to open your life to others and allow them to experience Jesus’ love flowing through you!

(Note for clarity: I’ve had the privilege of watching this hope-filled work of God work itself out in many lives. I’ve seen people forgive abandonment, treachery, and abuse. I’ve seen people find real love even for those who have hurt them deeply. In our sin-cursed world, this doesn’t mean that they needed to put themselves back into the relationships that had proved abusive. Nor did it mean that they couldn’t ask God and our human government for justice. God’s work did translate into beautiful freedom and amazing openness in those who learned to trust in God fully again.)