For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
This passage is perhaps the most recognized verse in the entire Bible. In one verse, it seemingly summarizes God’s love for us, what He has done for us, and how we can love Him to live with him for eternity. That’s a lot to put into just one verse. Knowing how much is in this verse is a good reminder that scripture is indeed “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
In the U.S., we have been celebrating Independence Day this week. We have been celebrating freedom from a tyrannical government that we overthrew 237 years ago, freeing us from overbearing kings of the past. We remember the many men who fought to provide us with the ability to worship as we wish, to speak freely, and the opportunity to pursue happiness. It’s a near-constant celebration as July 4 and the following weekend are filled with fireworks and other events to celebrate such a glorious occasion.
However, it is interesting that we don’t think of the hard times the soldiers went through in the Revolutionary War. The tendency is simply to remember that America won the war. We forget that we almost lost the war multiple times until the French came along our side as a result of the Battle of Saratoga in the fall of 1777, arguably the turning point of the war. Even as our friends came along side of us, there was still a long battle ahead. Later that year, and into the beginning of 1778, George Washington and his troops suffered through a harsh winter at Valley Forge. Many of the men didn’t have boots, most didn’t have warm clothes, the new American government didn’t have money to pay the soldiers, and almost all went hungry. It was a desperate time as many soldiers began to dessert their posts. One soldier put it this way: “half the army are naked, and almost the whole army go barefoot.” It was a dismal scene.
Think about what life was like before Christ arrived. The world was a place without morality, without truth, without hope; only the faith of the God of Abraham. Then, Christ was born and hope was restored as Emmanuel was now in the world. Just over 30 years later, when Jesus died on the cross, those that did not understand God’s plan once again began to weep while they watched Jesus die as they had forgotten that God was all powerful, all loving. In fact, the greatest sorrow of all. . .seeing our Savior die on the cross was in fact the largest gift ever given to mankind.
As we walk through life and suffer tragedies, it is important to try to remember that God always has a plan. We often don’t see it, but it is always there. George Washington later wrote this in a letter to Governor Clinton about the soldiers at Valley Forge, “As naked and as starving as they are, we cannot enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldier.” In their sufferings, admiration was found; and admiration, brought hope that this brood of American blood could finish a seemingly impossible war. While it still took many more years to win the Revolutionary War, that is exactly what happened.
The same is true with our walk with Christ. We will suffer like Him. There will be afflictions that we don’t understand. There will be trials and tribulations that seem impossible. But, as God has a plan for everything, He will use all these things to bring about hope and goodness in one way or another. And, it will align with our eternal hope because God gave His one and only son, and whoever believes in Him shall not perish; but have eternal life. I pray that you and I remember that this isn’t just hope as it was before Christ walked this Earth. But, for you and me, it is a promise that has been fulfilled. May we remember God’s love for all of us as we walk through the trials and tribulations that have been placed in our lives.